POLICE in Hertfordshire are supporting a new national newspaper campaign to boost police recruitment figures.o

The Could you Volunteer? campaign, which features two new adverts showing scenarios faced by the police on a daily basis, is aimed at recruiting special constables.

Special constables are volunteers from the local community who wear the same uniform and have the same powers as a standard police officer.

They play an active role in the community and carry out specific operations such as community safety patrols, visiting 'hotspot' areas which generate repeat complaints about anti-social behaviour and carrying out traffic management duties at large public events such as football matches.

Brian Cooper, 59, has been a special in Bishop's Stortford for 11 years, and is the divisional officer for the area, a role which is equal to that of a regular police inspector.

He said: "Regular police officers are under a great deal of pressure at the moment. Specials are very beneficial to the force because we're an extra resource the police have got, meaning that they can carry out operations that otherwise they could not without our support.

"Being a special is a wonderful opportunity if people are thinking of going into the force. You get the opportunity to learn a lot about yourself and gain a lot more confidence in yourself. You also get the chance to mix with people and get involved with things you would never dream of doing normally."

Hertfordshire Constabulary has 173 special constables with 22 currently operating in the east Herts area, but these figures are set to increase with 25 new recruits starting a training course this month.

The January intake is the highest the county's force has seen for ten years.

The county commandant for Hertfordshire's special constables, Peter Mould, said: "We're delighted with the increased recruitment levels, but we would like to see more people volunteering from across the county.

"Hertfordshire's special constables provide an invaluable service to the constabulary and local people. Last year they performed over 48,000 hours of service, most of which was front-line policing alongside their regular colleagues."

For more information, ring Hertfordshire Constabulary on 01923 472000, log onto www.herts-recruitment.police.uk, or ring the national campaign hotline on 0845 6083000.