Special Constable Selection Process

The Special Constabulary is an effective means in which local communities can be represented within the police service. As a fully trained volunteer with police powers, you can add real value by supporting the regular police service.

It's important that our Special Constables are of the same standard as that expected of our regular officers. Public satisfaction, public confidence and community engagement are all critical aspects of the service delivery of Police Scotland.

The national selection process for Special Constables reflects the importance of ensuring that our Special Constabulary continues to consolidate its status as a reliable, trusted and integrated part of Police Scotland's strategic and operational deployment plans.  

The selection process can be broken down into the following stages:

Application Form

To comply with the requirements under the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into effect on 25th May 2018 we have now amended our police officer and special constable application forms and reviewed how we collect your personal data. This means that from 25 May 2018 you must submit the new Special Constable application form.

It is really important that you complete all the sections of the forms fully and honestly, so you will need to spend a bit of time preparing this. You must disclose all the material information requested in each section. Don't be tempted to leave things out as this can result in your application being rejected. If you are not sure about anything, please contact us and we will provide you with some guidance.

In our How to Apply - Special Constables section you can download the application form which you can save and complete on your own computer and then either email or post to us.

Please be aware that it will take more than a first class stamp to post the form. Forms with incorrect postage may not be delivered.

On receipt, your application form is assessed to ensure that you meet the entrance criteria and that you have provided relevant responses and information to all the questions. If your application meets the required standard you will be invited to sit the Police Standard Entrance Test (SET) - unless you have previously passed the SET in which case you will not have to sit this stage again.


The public is entitled to expect that Police Scotland will only recruit people who demonstrate the highest standards of professional conduct, honesty and integrity.

In order to ascertain suitability a wide range of police systems will be checked. Convictions, warnings or other adverse information will not in every case prevent appointment.

Completion of the vetting form is no longer required at the application stage.

You will be required to complete the Vetting Form after you have progressed beyond the interview stage. The relevant forms will be issued to you by the recruitment team at the time.  Your completed vetting form and all vetting decisions are managed by the Police Scotland Vetting Unit.

The Vetting Unit will also want to know whether any of your close family or associates are involved in criminal activity and they will therefore search for any criminal convictions or cautions recorded against them. You must advise them that these enquiries will be made.

You should be aware that ALL vetting decisions are made at the latter stages of the recruitment process. 

Standard Entrance Test

The test is made up of three papers. There are three different versions of the test, therefore all applicants are allowed to sit the Standard Entrance Test (SET) a maximum of three times. The test covers:

  • language
  • numbers
  • information handling

To help you get ready for the test, we've created sample papers for you to practice. To find them, scroll down to the bottom of this page where there is a list of PDF documents you can download.

Candidates with Specific Learning Difficulties     

We are committed to making our selection process and facilities as accessible as possible for all applicants and employees.

If you have or think you have a specific learning difficulty such as dyslexia you can contact recruitment on 01355 566350 for guidance on how we can help you. 

If you would like to know more about dyslexia visit Dyslexia Scotwest at www.dyslexiasw.com.

Fitness Assessment 

The national recruitment and selection process is aligned to that used for the recruitment of Probationer Officers so includes a mandatory fitness assessment which is the same as that used for the recruitment of police officers. The assessment will require you to undertake a Multi Stage Fitness Test (MSFT) in accordance with the standards outlined in the relevant Police Service National Fitness Standard document at the bottom of the How To Apply page. 

The assessment measures cardiovascular fitness. This means the ability of your heart and lungs to provide sufficient oxygen to the working muscles to allow them to sustain a rhythmical activity involving large muscle groups (i.e. running, cycling, swimming) for an extended period of time.

All candidates must reach level 5.4 to achieve a pass.

For training purposes, you may find the attached MSFT training video and downloads of use. You should measure out a level, 15-metre long training space in order to utilise these downloads fully.

  1. Bleep Test - Intro
  2. Bleep Test - Get Ready
  3. The Bleep Test

NB The Bleep tests are in MP3 format and require an MP3 supported player (e.g Windows Media Player or Winamp)

Bleep Test Video

If you have any concerns about your ability to undertake the fitness assessment you should seek advice from your GP in the first instance.  Your Body Mass Index (BMI) must be between 18 -30 (inclusive). Please note your BMI will not be assessed until the medical stage which is towards the end of the selection process. 


If you pass the SET and the fitness assessment, you will be invited to attend a competency based panel interview with two members of the local recruiting team.

This is your opportunity to make the right impression. So preparing for your interview is really important.

Make sure you know what areas/competencies are likely to be covered at the interview and prepare some examples from your own experiences that demonstrate some of the relevant behavioral indicators. You should also do some web-based research and a lot of applicants find it really helpful to talk to some of our existing special constables and/or officers.

This is the first opportunity that we have to talk to you in person. The questions will cover the following areas and we'll ask you to give examples drawn from your own personal life experience that will enable the interviewers to assess your knowledge, skills and personal attributes: 

  • Effective communication
  • Personal effectiveness
  • Team work
  • Respect for diversity
  • Job knowledge
  • Personal awareness
  • Service delivery

Final Stages

The provisional offer of appointment is subject to the following final formal stages of the selection process being fully satisfied:

1. Being passed fit at the force medical, which includes BMI and eye-sight standards
d2. Satisfactory final employer reference being receive
3. All vetting checks being approved
4. Substance misuse results being clear
5. No new matter subsequently arising that throws doubt on the suitability of the candidate to undertake the role of a special constable.

Thereafter, you will be issued with a formal offer of appointment for the next available intake. There is normally a spring and an autumn intake for Special Constables each year, albeit this is subject to change.

It's really important that you notify your local Recruiting Department right away of any change that may affect your application immediately. This could include a change to any of your personal details such as change of address, getting married or changing jobs.

Should you become subject of a report to the Procurator Fiscal or should you be convicted of any offence, failure to disclose this information to the Recruiting Department at the time could have a detrimental effect on your application.


Related Documents

PDF files on this page require a PDF reader, such as the free Adobe Acrobat Reader (download).

If you would like this information in an alternative format or language - please phone us on 101 to discuss your needs.