Special Constable says unique role can help Federation create positive change

Dr Ben Johns is a clinical scientist - but outside of his day job, he then dedicates 20 hours a week to volunteering as a Special Constable with South Wales Police. Here, we caught up with Ben, as we discovered more about the role and how he is committed to shining a light on Specials via social media.

“Special Constables have been trying to join the Federation for decades, but in some ways, the hard work has only started since we actually did so a couple of years ago,” said Ben. “I think we are still figuring out how to take full advantage of this change in legislation.”

Ben is referring to 2022 when Special Constables became members of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW).

The 31-year-old, who is training to become a consultant microbiologist in the NHS with Public Health Wales, first joined as a Special back in 2015.

Support my community

“I am very committed to both of my roles. I may earn a living from being in a lab, but like any regular officer, I see what I do on the street as an opportunity to support my community up close,” he said.

Commendable as they may be, these numbers do raise the question of whether Ben is familiar with the idea of a work-life balance.

“I honestly feel fine with the amount of downtime I have,” he laughed. “I have a husband at home and I can often go out with friends multiple times a week.

“I find it quite easy to switch off, and that’s where it’s probably important to remember my life dictates that I can – and have to – switch off from police matters more easily than a regular officer.”


Special Constable Ben Johns.


In what is undoubtedly still a busy schedule, nevertheless, Ben still finds time to regularly post about his role as a Special on social media. His personal Twitter/X account (@DrBenJohns) is active with updates on work including patrols, training courses and event appearances.

With over 1,800 followers, he believes a visible online presence is an essential way of highlighting the Special Constabulary’s importance.

He continued: “I think social media is just part of the beat now. It’s a way of engaging with the community a step further but it also means people are seeing that it is possible for someone with a completely separate day job to contribute to the Police Force.

“I’ve received comments criticising police work and sometimes I’ll reply, encouraging them to get involved and deliver the change they want to see. Even if they join the Ride-Along Scheme and come out on patrol with me.”

Effective public service

This is not a response made in retaliation, but a genuine invitation. As far as Ben is concerned, it is this principle of active citizenship that helps make an effective public service.

“I really identify with a quote I once saw stating that policing is far too important to be left to police alone. This is what necessitates the role of a Special Constable. We’re not here to replace regular officers, but to work alongside them,” added Ben, who explained that one of the biggest challenges facing Specials is that around 80 per cent go on to join the Force as regulars after their first 18 months volunteering.

“Of course, I believe there is a place for this pathway and I know there are Specials who go on to have wonderful full-time careers in policing,” he said. “But I believe the Special Constabulary mustn’t be seen merely as a stepping stone – it is designed to be a 30-year commitment.

“We perform such a unique role that will always be needed. We come from all different walks of life and can bring a fresh set of eyes to the Force in terms of how things are done.”

Union representatives

Ben added that this same idea of new perspectives, emerging from the likes of teaching, IT and government, can help the Federation too. For him, an ideal scenario would see Specials benefitting from the representation of PFEW, and in turn, offering support the other way.

He explained: “There are Specials who are even union representatives as part of their day jobs. We have skillsets from outside of policing that I’m sure could be of use to the Federation. It’s all about what the Federation can do for us and what we can do for the Federation.”

Paying tribute to the work of South Wales Police Federation he has witnessed since joining, Ben also looked to its future with a keen sense of optimism. 
He ended: “I have already become aware of the protection the Federation has given to Specials, especially on an individual basis, which I think can never receive too much appreciation.

“As our relationship grows, I am confident we can work together to create positive organisation-wide change across the Police Force.”

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