The Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner were at the University of Bradford yesterday helping to recruit students into the force.

West Yorkshire Police has announced a major recruitment drive to more than treble the number of Special Constables to 1,500 by May 2016.

A series of recruitment events are taking place as part of National Specials Weekend.

Chief Constable Mark Gilmore and Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson, along with Bradford divisional commander, Chief Superintendent Simon Atkin, helped to staff a recruitment stall at the university’s library yesterday to encourage students to enrol.

A new section of the force’s website has been created which includes a “mythbusting” videos of Specials in action, and an online application form.

It has 420 Special Constables who each volunteer a minimum of 16 hours of their time each month. Special Constables have the same powers and responsibility as full-time police officers but do not receive a salary, only expenses.

The force is keen to receive applications from under-represented groups.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: “Special Constables have a vital role to play within policing and it is essential we continue recruiting valuable members of the community who go on to develop into outstanding officers or who just want to make a difference within the community. The budget I recently approved included an amount set aside to ensure there will be proper support and training for those who apply.

“I have pledged to involve communities through volunteering opportunities and this recruitment campaign for Special Constables is an ideal opportunity for people from all walks of life and backgrounds to get involved.

“West Yorkshire Police needs to be representative of the people we serve and I will personally be out in communities encouraging people to become Specials.”

Mr Gilmore said: “Special Constables play a vital role in helping to keep our communities safe. Through preventing and investigating crime, tackling anti-social behaviour and reducing disorder, Specials provide a much appreciated active presence in all areas.

“We are proud of the work that we do with the diverse communities of West Yorkshire. Special Constables work for the benefit of the many communities we serve. That is why we are keen to recruit people from all walks of life and a range of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

“If you would like to become a Special Constable, to serve the public, learn new skills and challenge yourself, then we would like to hear from you.”