FIVE extra bobbies will soon be pounding the streets of Congleton and Vale Royal.

A team of Special constables has joined the ranks of Cheshire Constabulary after completing a 15-week training course at the force's headquarters in Winsford.

Joanne Gilder, Sue Dickinson, Peter Boczan, Sarah Sharples and Craig Wardle will soon be out and about throughout the Division putting their skills to good use.

Each brings different skills and experience to the job, proving that no matter what a person's circumstances are they still have a lot to bring the role of a Special.

Weaverham mum Joanne, 25, is a retail assistant who enjoys keeping fit; postal worker Sue, 36, lives in Winnington and does self-de-fence in her spare time; Peter, a 39-year-old from Weaverham, works as a semi-skilled fitter at Airbus UK and enjoys music and films; teacher Sarah, 26, lives in Cranage and enjoys reading and playing electric guitar; and project manager Craig, 31, lives in Lostock Gralam and enjoys football and golf.

Divisional officer Adrian Dodd, who heads up the Specials in the area,said: 'Thenewofficersshould be more than pleased with themselves. The training programme they have completed is tough.

'It's similar in many ways to the training completed by regular police officers and it really puts officers through their paces.

'New recruits need to be committed from the word go and the new members have shown they are.'

The five recruits are equipped with all the powers regular police officers possess - they have power of arrest, they work on the beat, they can conduct breath tests and they can work undercover.

Mr Dodd added: 'The Specials really are an important part of the police force. They receive much of the same training as regular officers, they wear the same uniform and carry the same equipment.

'The main difference, of course, is the payment. Regular officers are full-time police officers.

'Most Specials do police work in their spare time in addition to a main job. Although they receive all their training, uniforms and equipment, they don't get a regular salary.

'That really is the only major difference. Specials can find themselves doing all the work that a regular officer does. Specials get a taste of life in lots of different police work. They also have the added bonus of flexibility.

'Someone who works awkward shifts can slot their police work in around them. Someone who has weekends free can put in a few hours then. There's nothing stopping Specials working as and when they can.'

There are currently 40 Specials working throughout Congleton and Vale Royal - with room for at least 30 more.

The most important traits of potential Special officers are honesty, integrity and confidence.

'We're after a degree of moral standard and personal regard,' said Mr Dodd. 'People that are confident, who'll converse well with others. People who just want to do their bit.' Could you become a Special constable? Specials volunteer at least four hours per week of their spare time and come from all walks of life.

To find out more about becoming a Special, visit or ring Specials co-ordinator Tina Shelton on 01244 614026 for further information and an application pack.