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11 May 2012, 05:00
Heart's found out the number of special constables at Thames Valley Police has almost tripled in 4 years.
The force reached their goal after starting a big recruitment drive back in 2008 with numbers rising from 246 to 719 in 2012. They have another 700 applications waiting to be processed.
Specials undergo the same training as police officers with a total of 144 hours over 8 weekends.
Training officer Sergeant Sarah Cook said: "Since starting the double intake last September, we are training between 80 and 140 special constables every weekend in groups of about 40 per session. We do this alongside all the other training, including training for Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs)."
They're expected to do more than 16 hours of duty a month and have the same powers as regular officers.
They can make arrests and often help officers on Friday and Saturday nights.
Thames Valley Police has been actively recruiting to get inline with the number of specials at other forces.
Despite the Force needing to save more than £50 million between 2011 - 2015, Assistant Chief Constable Richard Bennett says they are not replacing full-time staff with volunteers,
"We're not actually looking to replace police officers. We've had a massive internal reorganisation over the last two years and we've actually put a 157 extra police officers in frontline roles to work alongside the 700 special constables.
"They're providing us with additional capacity if you like, but we're still committed to growing our regular officer strength as well."