South Yorkshire Police has recruited more Special Constables than any other police force over a 12 month period, new figures have revealed.
Between March 2013 and March 2014 the force recruited 104 Specials - an increase of 34 per cent and more than any other force in England and Wales.
The force now has 443 Specials on its books.
They are unpaid volunteers with the same powers as regular officers.
Police chiefs claim they are ‘indistinguishable’ from their paid colleagues.
Superintendent Neil Thomas, of South Yorkshire Police, said: “The national figures are incredibly promising and it is great to see South Yorkshire leading the way in recruiting Specials.
“There appears to be a decline in numbers in many force areas, so I am very pleased to see our region bucking this trend and demonstrating that people in South Yorkshire are rising to the challenge of becoming a Special Constable.”
Chief Officer of the Special Constabulary, Stephen Merrett, said: “Special Constables are an invaluable resource to policing and we continue to accept applications from a wide variety of backgrounds and age groups.
“We want our Special Constabulary to reflect the communities we serve and I am thrilled so many women are giving up their time to assist in the policing of South Yorkshire.
“This year alone, the Specials have contributed 160,000 hours of policing to our region, which is phenomenal and an additional contribution of £2.5 million worth of policing.”
The force wants to employ 500 Special Constables to increase police visibility on South Yorkshire’s streets.
A recruitment event is being planned for next month.
Former Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright said he wanted 650 Special Constables in post by April 2015 when he was elected in 2012, in a bid to boost police numbers.
With Government funding cuts leading to the loss of police officer posts to save cash, police chiefs believe Specials can help fill the gap.
The Police Federation, which represents rank and file police officers, said last year that Specials were ‘beneficial’ to the police force and that they play a ‘very important’ role but should only ‘complement’ regular officers.
Specials receive training and help police community events as well as assisting officers with tasks including Automatic Number Plate Recognition operations and traffic patrols.
Special Constables should be between 18 and 65 years-old, be able to work a minimum of 16 hours a month and be living, working or studying in South Yorkshire.
Visit South Yorkshire Police or call 0114 2197000 to find out more about the role.
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