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About this blog

I am a serving S/Sgt with a Home Office force in England & Wales with approx 3 years experience under my belt. I know when I was applying/in training I spent quite a lot of time reading the various 'what i did on duty' threads on PS.com so thought I'd give something back and contribute myself. I will try and write up as many interesting shifts as possible, giving you an insight into being a Special in general and also some specific to being a supervisor. Bear in mind I'm no author so take them as they come! To protect my own anonymity and out of respect for those involved I will of course not be posting any dates, specific places, names or details of any ongoing investigations. As such, if you recognise any of the incidents I post, please consider these points before you divulge or add to what I have posted. As a disclaimer, times are always an estimate as posts may be from duties that took place a significant amount of time ago. All incidents are written from best memory and, as such, specifics may differ from any original & official accounts.

I am also currently in the recruitment process for a Staff job with BTP. While I highly doubt I will be able to post anything from this job due to operational info, I may make one or two posts if I can.

Hope you enjoy


Entries in this blog


Hello all,

As many of the posts on this forum relate to recruitment, I thought I'd make a blog entry about my experiences as an SC interviewer in my force. Hopefully this will be useful to those of you who are thinking about applying or currently waiting for your assessment centres, specifically those applying as an SC. I have been on both sides of the table for SC interviews, I remember mine well & remember the feeling of being sat in the waiting room, flinching every time the door opened dreading the time they'd call my name but also wishing it was over and done with; I remember being in the interview room, the sense of panic when the questions differ from what you've prepared for and I remember the nervous next few days waiting for an email saying yes or no. Now I'm on the other side of the desk, it's all too easy to say "don't be nervous", "be yourself" or any other cliche line but hopefully by reading this blog post you'll be able to avoid some little mistakes which unfortunately lead to people failing.

Please bear in mind, my experiences relate to interviewing Special Constables in one force. While some points may be applicable in other areas, things will vary by force and will differ for PC applicants. My points will relate to general pros & cons I've found to be relatively common which trip people up, this is not a "how to pass" or "secret guide to..." & I'll not be discussing specific questions/criteria you may be assessed on. Any advice given is not scripture & therefore if you go on to use it, you do so at your own risk.


1) Know what you've applied for! - Sounds simple, right? You'd be surprised! You wouldn't go to a 'normal' job interview if you didn't know what the job was & what you'd be doing, and just because this is voluntary (for you SCs), that doesn't change. I've interviewed people who claim to have done loads of research, who have friends/family in the job, been Police Cadets, but then don't know that SCs have identical powers to regular officers, can arrest/search people, the hours commitment or even what sort of general work the police do! This is an easy way to fail! If you want to be a Special Constable, how do you expect me to pass you if you don't even know what a Special Constable is?! DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!! I can't state that enough! Whatever the force, you will most likely be sent a load of material before your assessment, read it, read it & read it again! Have a look at your forces website, specifically the Specials page if that's what you're applying for, and find out as much as you can about them. By all means speak to friends & family in the job, use these forums & wikipedia or whatever, but always go with what the official websites/material say.

2) Know your "drivers"! - I don't mean Lewis Hamilton or Jenson Button, I mean 'competencies' or essentially the criteria you are being assessed against. The specifics of these will vary by force but I'd be surprised if you weren't sent some kind of framework/criteria prior to your interview, which outlined what you be asked about or what you will need to demonstrate in your interview & throughout your career. This is another thing to read and read again as getting to know these will make your interview less of shock. In my force, all our questions are based around these drivers meaning if you know them inside out, none of the questions I ask should seem odd. Often drivers/competencies will involve several different aspects, be prepared to be holistic about it but potentially really specific about one aspect too. The best way to describe this is "trees" (bear with me!): Say I want to interview you about trees. I could ask a general question about them & cover the all basics of trees, or I could ask you specifically about the roots, the trunk, the branches, the leaves & so on. Now, you may have seen you were going to be interviewed about trees so you've prepared a nice overview answer but, you don't know much about their roots specifically. Turns out my question is about the roots, I don't want to hear your prepared general answer or about the branches. I only care for the roots. Make sense? Don't make this mistake. Make sure you know about & are comfortable with ALL aspects of the criteria because you don't know how specific my question is going to be. 

3) Think about your examples! - The vast majority of police assessment centres are "competency based". This means I'll be asking you to prove to me that you meet the specific criteria. To do this, I don't need general, wishy-washy answers about how you feel about something, who you are as a person or how you think you'd deal with certain situations.  I need you to give me specific examples of when/how you have done something that meets ALL the points of the questions. I emphasise "all" because if I ask the question to tell me a time when you've successfully done XYZ, I want to hear "a time" i.e one example, when "you've" i.e. I don't care what other people did, "successfully" i.e. you may have done XYZ but if it didn't work don't use it, "done XYZ" i.e not just X or not just Y, I want to see all three. Think about these before the day and get them right. Often people will use the wrong examples for the wrong criteria and try desperately to make them fit & will then use another example for a different question which would have covered the previous criteria perfectly. I will not correct you & cannot use the answer to one question as evidence for another (unless you use the same example for both questions which is acceptable in some forces). I have to go with the specific answer you gave so it's worth getting right.

4) Avoid using "we"! - This is often seen if using examples of where you've worked in a group but is still pretty common during entire interviews. Even if the question is about teamwork, this is YOUR interview & I want to hear about specifically what YOU did, I don't care about anyone else. Using "we" doesn't do you any favours & can lead to you not actually answering the question & therefore losing marks. On that note...

5) Listen to & answer the question! - Again, sounds obvious but many, many people don't! If you don't hear or don't understand any part of the question, ask me to repeat it. I can do so as many times as you like & can even rephrase it if it doesn't make sense to you. Asking me to do this does not lose your marks & ensures you hit all the points you need to. The question is all I care about. Do not waffle, go off on a tangent, give me a load of corporate spiel or generalised answers, it won't do you any favours and won't get you any marks. You can say you're the pope, the dalai lama, mother teresa & superman all rolled into one, that's great... but it doesn't answer my question & is therefore of no use to me. If the question asks for a specific example, give me one. If it asks how you'd deal/have dealt with a specific scenario, do not deviate from that scenario because that's not what I asked. I appreciate it's a fine balance you need to strike, if you do not demonstrate what you've been asked (either by saying too much irrelevant stuff or simply not enough at all), I cannot prompt you other than asking to clarify the specific points of the question. 

6) Take your time! - Many of the above issues simply come from people panicking. Although I'll have a lot of recruits to interview & can't wait for you all day, there is no rush. Taking a bit of time to think about your answer before you speak will do you wonders & will avoid you blurting out whatever comes into your head that is vaguely related to the question! 

7) Don't talk about stuff you don't know! - You answering my questions impresses me, you don't need to try and talk "job" if you don't know what you're on about. Unless asked for (& certainly not in my force), I do not need you to quote legislation to me, talk about jurisdiction, the fact you know the difference between different types of police vehicles, what different ranks can/can't do etc etc. I'm not expecting you to be a police officer, I'm expecting you to answer my questions to show you have potential to become one. Often people will read stuff online that is simply wrong and quote it in an interview to impress me... it doesn't. Unless it's relevant I will not correct you, I'll just think you're a little bit silly ;)

8) Don't take your past for granted! - Have you been a cadet? Served in another force as a PCSO, Special or even Regular. That's great! I look forward to you smashing all the questions by having relevant examples to give. Please don't assume past policing experience is a golden ticket to getting in, it isn't! I have failed people who evidently have done no preparation after they assumed that because they can use acronyms, talk "job" to me & have had a warrant card in the past, that they'll get in. I take every recruit as they come. Yes, policing experience puts you at an advantage by a) probably having gone through a similar process already and b) it should give you excellent relevant examples to the questions I'll be asking but that's it. Unless you use that experience to demonstrate that & answer my questions, I cannot pass you. Don't be arrogant! 

9) Don't lie! - In many forces you are interviewed by serving officers... don't try and lie to police officers or even HR for that matter, it doesn't end well.  It's obvious and easily unravelled, if you do we can & will check! If you miss out & fail at the interview stage because you haven't provided satisfactory answers, you are welcome to try again. If you get found out for lying, you can forget any future career in the police on honesty & integrity grounds. Don't risk it!

10) Don't be disheartened! - If the worst happens & you fail at interview stage, that does not mean you are not suitable for the job. True, some people just simply don't cut it but in a lot of interviews that fail I find myself getting frustrated, not at you but for you. Much of want you're saying is great, but as per the points above, either you've not said it in the right place or not used it in the correct way to answer the very specific question you may be asked. If the force you're applying to does offer feedback, please take it on board, use the experience you've just had, review what you had planned & try again... please! I almost enjoy passing people who I see a second time more than I do first-timers!


Hopefully that all proves useful to someone! If you'd like to ask me any general questions about interviews, please do so below or PM me. As I've said above though, I cannot & will not give specifics about your assessment day.

Best of luck to those currently in the recruitment process!







Rank: Special Sgt

Length of Service: 3yrs 

Planned Hours: 1400-2300 (Late Turn)

Type of Shift: Response


1230: Arrive at the station early as have a fair amount of admin to do for my team and upcoming meetings/training days etc. Manage to locate the infamous station fork and have a bit of lunch as of course, no guarantee I'll be eating later. After all that, go and kit up & as there's a few other SCs on the same shift, go to the skippers office to let the late turn Sgt know we're out today & give all our details etc. Massive thanks from the Sgt as his team was short so he'll make good use of us

1400: Find the other SCs and head to the briefing room and meet the team, who I work with fairly regularly. Briefed by the Sgt and given our postings, all specials are in IRVs (Immediate Response Vehicles) so smiles all round - who doesn't like blue lights & fast cards ;)!  Introductions made with the PC I'm paired with as I've not worked with him before, he goes to book out his taser & I try and source us a vehicle. Early turn had a busy shift so vehicles are a bit thin on the ground at the station. 

1445: Manage to get a vehicle & head out. PC I was with was a great laugh & one of the best I'd worked with, incredibly proactive which was excellent & something I enjoy rather than sitting around just waiting for calls to come out. We head to one of the local council estates that's seen a rise in pretty much everything recently, burglary, theft, car crime, assaults/VWI's & general antisocial behaviour. Stopped & spoke to a few groups of well-known guys, weren't doing anything particular, just a quick chat & so they know we're out and about. Continue having a look around the less glamorous areas of our ground. 

1530: Immediate call (blue lights etc for the non-police amongst you) to an 'abandoned call' with child screaming & disturbance heard in the background. On scene and no sign of disturbance at the address, door answered by young girl covered head-to-toe in flour who'd been baking with her Mum, on seeing us the Mum almost broke down in tears before we even said anything as her husband was out and she assumed the worst... which was odd! Turned out her 8 year old son had a friend over, decided to play with the house phone and dialled 999 to see what would happen. Not sure if the kid or the Mum was more embarrassed but gave words of advice given to the kid about how/when to use 999 & tried to get across the seriousness of hoax calls while not putting him off calling 999 if he's genuinely in trouble. He got the message & left him with his Mum who I'm sure had a few more words! 

1545: Almost as soon as we left the last job, another immediate call, PI RTC (Personal Injury Road Traffic Collision) on the other end of the ground, ourselves along with several other units start making our way. Bus v Moped so you can imagine how that turned out...! As we were quite a way away, ambulance & fire (due to leaked fuel) were already on scene. Scene itself was being dealt with so we assisted with road closures and directing traffic until signs were brought by Traffic. Injured party taken off to hospital, scene handed over to Traffic and some PCSOs came to man the cordons so we could get back to calls. 

1645: 'Substantial' call (relatively serious but doesn't warrant an immediate response) to some young guys on a council estate throwing food from their tower block and nearly hitting passers by. While en route, get updated that they'd now thrown a knife down towards people so got upgraded to Immediate. Knives are one of the things that still really get the adrenaline running for me but we were on scene pretty quickly. Some young local kids come up to us as we pull in, who'd for some reason picked up the knife and tried to pass it through the car window to me, blade first! Quickly got told to put in on the floor & then spoke to them about what had happened, they pointed us up to the window where the suspects were last seen. The tower block had two sets of stairs on either side with a short corridor between them where the flats were. I went up one set of stairs & the PC the other, met up where the suspects had been seen but no evidence of anything there, knocked on a few flat doors of the floor we were on but no answer (quelle surprise). We then both walked to the stairs the PC had taken, to a strong smell of cannabis that wasn't there before and got stronger the higher we went. As we turned the corner to the last flight of stairs to the top floor, our two suspects were stood there having a spliff. Both then legged it through the corridor and began running down the other stairs I originally came up to begin with. I gave chase after them & the PC went down the stairs we were on to prevent them cutting across. Love a good foot chase but doing it down the almost-sprial stairs of a tower block was something else, got very dizzy very quickly. They had the head start on me but could hear them only a couple flights below me, ran nearly halfway down the block when I heard a loud bang on the floor below. Was convinced it was them slamming the door open and cutting across to the other set of stairs so legged it across the corridor, swung open the door to the other stairs & nearly collided with the PC :huh:!! He'd not heard anyone on that side of the building so was my mistake! Got to the ground floor and they were no where to be seen. The young kids outside pointed us in the direction they'd ran so got in the car and had a search for them but was a loss loss. Slightly disappointing but some you win and some you lose!

1730: See a moped appear to turn one way, see us behind him, then quickly turn the other way and ride off at speed. Run the VRM and registered keeper is one of our well known thieves/burglars. Signal for him to stop, fully expecting him to make a go for it but surprisingly he pulls over. Had a chat and he stated he was "just out for a ride" which we weren't very happy with. Ran all his details and checked moped over but everything checked out so he was good to go.

1800: Substantial call to theft from motor vehicle, a number plate stolen from a car. Turns out it wasn't recent and the owner rarely uses the car, hasn't used it for a few weeks and only noticed the number plate was missing today. Evidence on the car it had been forced off but no CCTV in the area and neither owner/neighbours had seen anything so just needed reporting. 

1900: Back to the station to book in the knife, put on intel report re the moped stop, crime report for number plate & have some refs. 

2000: Another vehicle stop after driver decided it'd be a good idea to go straight through a red light despite the marked police car right behind him! Not a very pleasant man, "shouldn't we be out catching murderers & rapists" etc etc. Ran checks & it turned out his insurance had expired too so seized his car, reported him for no insurance & the red light and took great delight in directing him to the nearest bus stop. 

2130: Recovery arrived to collect the vehicle. Just as we got back into the car, an immediate call came out literally just around the corner for a domestic in progress, on scene in seconds. Shan't go into details at this stage as case is still open but essentially as we arrive, the guy still assaulting wife! I arrest the guy for domestic GBH & take him to custody. PC remains with the victim and takes statements etc. Quite a nasty job & one that'll stay with me for a long time. Lots of writing required so the next few hours are spent dealing with the relevant paperwork but felt good to genuinely get the victim out of that situation.

0000: Book off, head home and try to get some sleep while replaying the last job over & over in my head.


Overall a decent shift. Who says Specials just do fetes and parades ;) haha

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