A special role in the community

Brighouse Specials c1940
Brighouse Specials c1940

For many years I worked alongside members of the special constabulary at Brighouse. Men and women who gave up their time to help and support the local police in their work within the community.

Today, we still have special constables working in and around the Calderdale area that all still give up their free time to help with the policing of our local communities.

Surprisingly there are some people who have never heard of the special constabulary even though the role dates back several hundred years to Anglo Saxon times.

In 1673 King Charles II was alarmed by the threat of public disorder arising out of attempts to enforce religious conformity. He extended his duties ruling that any citizen might be sworn in as a temporary peace officer for a specific occasion, in particular when there was a threat of great disturbances.

In 1831 the government passed an act for amending the laws relative to the appointment of special constables. This act included many provisions, including a new power allowing local authorities to appoint special constables for the purpose of preserving the peace. Specials were granted all powers, authorities, advantages and immunities as any serving full-time constable. 

Before 1831, Specials were forced to give up their time with no recompense other than the thrill of providing a national service.

During the First World War the special constabulary continued to be volunteers and paid only their expenses. The duties of these wartime specials were to prevent German infiltrators from interfering with the nation’s water supply. 

Since those days they have continued to assist during many other important historic events, such as the General Strike of 1926 and the Second World War in 1939-1945.

Now in the 21st Century the special constabulary is still a closely integrated part of the modern day police service.  Today special constables provide hundreds of thousands of hours of additional policing each year, building a vital link to the communities they help to keep safe.

In this 1940 photograph we have 11 boys in blue who all did many hours of work during those dark years of World War Two.