Cyber Specials

Cyber Specials are how the UK government refers to volunteer police officers and Special Constables, with specialist computer skills[1] in the 2011 Cyber Security Strategy (in reference to the use of the term "specials"for volunteer police officers). NCA Specials are listed in Schedule 1 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013.

Since 2011 the Police Central e-Crime Unit has "developed a dedicated Cyber Specials process for cyber units fulfilling the requirements of independent patrolling status within a specialist command."[2] (?)

Despite reports in 2011 that "hundreds" would be recruited[3], in January 2015 it was announced that there would be an expansion to the NCA's pilot programme over the next three years to 80 volunteer "cyber specialists".[4] Reports suggest that by 2015 there were between 17 and 20 existing Cyber Specials.[5]

By 2017 there were at least 40 Cyber Specials in police forces across England and Wales, with at least 21 recruited since January 2015. By 2017 the NCA had 22 Specials whose area of expertise is cyber crime, 19 of those recruited since January 2015.[6].

There were renewed calls[7][8] for volunteers in January 2016 at the end of a consultation regarding the expansion of some police powers to volunteers[9] as part of a Policing and Crime Bill. "Cyber police volunteers" would differ from "specials" in that they would not have completed the full training expected of a police constable.

Volunteer ‘Cyber Specials’ are expected to be in place across police forces by March 2018[10].

In April 2016 Zac Goldsmith announced that, if elected London Mayor, he would recruit Cyber Specials "to police social media, forums and other websites in return for a 50% discount on their council tax."[11]

A page requesting Cyber Volunteers for Essex Police offers a chance to be added to a "national cyber volunteers database".[12]

See also


  1. New strategy to tackle cyber crime published, 2011-11-25
  2. Funding Application 2014/15 - Cyber Crime Unit, 2014-06-13, Mayor of London
  3. Police forces sign up civilian 'iPlods' to beat cyber crime, Standard, 2011-11-25
  4. Cybercrime Home Office written question, 2015-01-14
  5. PM seeks cyber-attack help from US, Press Association, 2015-01-11 - "A quadrupling of the number based at the NCA's National Cyber Crime Unit and a fivefold increase in those working in police forces and regional organised crime units around the country will bring the ranks of cyber specials up to a total of 80."
  6. Hansard, 2017-02-23
  7. Theresa May wants civilians to help police solve cybercrimes, Wired UK, 2016-01-20
  8. Project recruits specialist volunteers to support fight against cyber crime, Hampshire Police, 2016-01-20
  9. Reforming the powers of police staff and volunteers, GOV.UK
  10. The UK Cyber Security Strategy 2011-2016: annual report, April 2016, p.24
  11. Zac Goldsmith to recruit cyber army to monitor online extremists,, 2016-04-04
  12. Cyber Volunteers, Essex Police