§ Stephen Hesford
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps his Department is taking to support the recruitment of special constables. 
§ Ms Blears
We are determined to boost Special's numbers as a central component of our reform agenda geared towards re-energising volunteering within neighbourhood policing.878W
We launched a £2.5 million advertising campaign in February to raise the awareness about Specials and their voluntary work. There has been a significant increase in expressions of interest in the Specials with, for example, calls to the recruitment hotline leaping from around 60 in the week before the TV ad first aired, to over 1,800 in the week of the 23 February.
The campaign was also timed to coincide with the second annual "National special Weekend" held on the 28–29 February, with all 43 Forces in England and Wales working to raise Specials' profile and to focus on local recruitment and employer support initiatives.
These measures are part of a wider initiative to increase Specials Number and effectiveness, which has also seen all 43 police Forces awarded a share of £2.75 million "Capacity building" funding to help develop and improve Specials' recruitment, management and retention. We hope that by 2006/07 another 3,000 Specials will have been recruited through wider public awareness and better management and communication by Forces.