What Personal Qualities Do You Need To Become A Special Constable?

  • Time to Read: 7 min.

Becoming a Special Constable can be a great way of giving back to your local community, as well as gaining new skills and experience. But, what personal qualities do you need to become a special constable? And why are these qualities important? In this article, we will answer these questions. 

There are many personal qualities you will need to become a Special Constable. In order to determine which are the most important, we went out and asked our network of current and past Special Constables what they thought the most important qualities were, and why.

For more on the role of a Special Constable, check out our article which will cover everything you need to know about the role. 

Below is a list of the top qualities which were repeatedly cited as being important for Special Constables.

What Personal Qualities Do You Need To Become A Special Constable

List Of Qualities A Special Constable Needs

  • Communication Skills
  • Ability To Work As A Team
  • Quick Decision Making
  • Personal Resilience
  • Confidence
  • Work Well Under Pressure

Below, we will go into each of these in detail. Please remember that they should always be read in conjunction with the police Competency Value Framework (CVF).

The CVF set out clear expectations for everyone working in policing. They define relevant behaviours, competencies, and values which uphold the principles of the Code of Ethics.

These are the qualities that you are assessed against during your application process. Our list, although there is a lot of crossover, is more practical.

Communication Skills

Why Are Communication Skills Important for a Special Constable?

Communication skills are absolutely critical for any job, especially law enforcement. Whether you’re working alone or in a team, having good communication skills is vital to getting the job done right.

A police officer needs to be able to communicate effectively with members of the public, partner agencies, fellow officers, and their supervisors.

They also need to be able to listen carefully to what others are saying, and they should be able to convey their own thoughts clearly and concisely. This can be particularly important when dealing with dynamic, fast-paced scenarios when clear communication is key to success. 

Another factor here is all of the abbreviations which are used in policing, you need to make sure that you are speaking the same language.

These are all qualities that are necessary for success in any career field, but they’re particularly important for a Special Constable.

In addition to communicating effectively, a Special Constable also needs to be able to understand the laws governing what they are doing.

Special Constables need to be aware of the rules and regulations regarding everything from handling weapons, to dealing with suspects.

More importantly, they need to be able to explain these rules to others. All of these abilities are crucial for a Special Constable to succeed in his line of work.

Special Constables Need To Be Good Communicators

A Special Constable also needs to have excellent listening skills. They need to be able to hear what other people are saying, and understand what they are not saying. and they need to be able to interpret this.

In order to do this, they must pay close attention to details and nuances in speech. They also needs to ask follow-up questions to ensure that they understand exactly what someone else is trying to say.

If a Special Constable doesn’t have good listening skills, they may miss something important.

They could miss a vital bit of information that is essential to safeguarding a victim. Or he could misinterpret what somebody says, leading them to arrest the wrong person.

Sometimes, these questions may not be comfortable to ask. They could be very personal, or even go against your personal belief systems, but, non the less, you’ll have to be confident to communicate effectively.

Special Constables Must Have Excellent Written Communications Skills

Finally, a Special Constable needs to be adept at writing. They need to be capable of expressing ideas clearly and concisely in written reports.

As well as writing their own reports, Special Constables may be required to take statements from victims and witnesses.

A statement is somebodies account of what has happened. This will combine the questioning and listening skills we have discussed above, with written skills.

Statements are disclosable documents and may be used in court, so it information in them needs to be detailed and accurate.

These days, the majority of statements are written on laptops, therefore, if you have dyslexia or similar, there are computer programs to support you.

These are just a few examples of the many ways that a police officer needs to demonstrate excellent communication skills. They’re all part of the job description for a successful police officer.

Ability To Work As A Team

Teamwork is important for any job, but especially for jobs like law enforcement where safety is paramount.

Police officers are trained to work together, and they rely on each other to keep everyone safe. Special Constables need to be able to do the same.

This is potentially more challenging for Special Constables, as they will not necessarily always work with the same team, and not have the same working relationships with people.

The police need to hire individuals who are willing to put aside their differences and work together with others to solve problems, this is no different with Special Constables.

Quick Decision Making

Quick decision making is important for any type of law enforcement job.

Whether you’re working as a patrol officer, or detective, you need to be able to quickly assess situations and make decisions. This is no different for Special Constables.

This requires training and experience, but it’s also something that anyone can practice.

By learning how to make good decisions under pressure, you can improve your ability to handle stressful situations.

Not to scare anybody, but your decision making within policing can be life and death

Hopefully, for Special Constables, there will always be somebody you can ring for advice, however, if what you are dealing with is time critical, you may not have the time to call for advice.

Personal Resilience

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from adversity. It’s the ability to recover quickly from stressful situations and keep going. Personal resilience is something we all need to have in order to succeed in life.

We all face challenges and setbacks along our journeys. Sometimes these challenges are big and sometimes they’re small.

Regardless of the size, everyone needs to be able to deal with them effectively. Some people may struggle more than others, but anyone can improve their resilience by learning how to manage stress and cope with difficult situations.

As we are all well aware, not everybody is a fan of law enforcement. Even the people that call for your help may be verbally, or even physically abusive to you. You need to quickly learn that these comments or actions are not personal to you.

Furthermore, you may make mistakes, and as a result, you may be reprimanded, again, you need to use this as a learning experience, and not take it as an indication that you cannot do the job.

You are not expected to know everything, when you are only doing the role on a part time, voluntary basis

Challenging Inappropriate Behaviour

Your personal resilience may also be tested if you witness inappropriate behaviour which you need to challenge or report. This can be a real test of character to stand up to your colleagues in this way.

Confidence

Confidence is important for special constables because it shows that you’re ready to take on the role of a police officer.

If you lack confidence, you may feel like you’re not cut out for the job, and you could end up getting hurt or injured during training, or out on the street.

Or worse, you could feel like you have imposter syndrome, which may knock your confidence to perform the role.

On top of that, you may be afraid to ask for help if you need it, which could put you and others in danger.

When members of the public ask for support, they expect somebody to turn up who knows what they are doing. These victims may be scared, it’s your confidence that will give them confidence in your ability to support them.

Having confidence in yourself and your abilities will give you the courage to face any situation head-on, and it will help you succeed in becoming a special constable.

Work Well Under Pressure

Working well under pressure is important for special constables because it shows that you’re able to handle stressful situations and keep calm during emergencies. Please, be assured, you will deal with plenty of these.

Your colleagues and members of the public will need to see you doing this. If you’re panicking, they may panic too, which can be dangerous for everybody. 

Being able to remain cool under pressure is something that many employers look for when hiring Special Constables.

There you have it – our round-up of what personal qualities you need to be a special constable.

If you are still interested in becoming a special constable, why not check out our article on becoming a special constable.

Becoming A Special Constable Not For You?

If after reading this, you don’t think being a Special Constable at this time, why not have a look at becoming a police service volunteer?

From here you will be able to experience what it’s like working within policing. Then later you can maybe reassess whether becoming a member of Police Staff, Special Constable, PCSO, or Police Officer is for you.

Are you currently a Special Constable, or have you been one? If you have any personal qualities you think we’ve missed, please share them with us all in the comments below.

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