n. A volunteer or part-time police constable, particularly in Britain.
But like everyone else in Britain, London’s Metropolitan Police Service is tightening its belt. Aspiring bobbies can still join the force — as long as they don’t expect to get paid…The announcement has drawn ridicule from both commentators and opposition politicians. "Do we really want to be policed by hobby bobbies?" harrumphed one headline.
Kent Police is looking for volunteer police officers — only days after it announced 500 of its paid officers could lose their jobs. The Special Constabulary in Kent is made up of 285 so-called "hobby bobbies" who police Kent for free and enjoy the same powers as normal police.
The same tendencies were apparent to responses to my own questions in 1975/1976 and it is interesting to reflect upon the labels applied to those in police community relations work: 'hobby bobbies', 'chocolate bobbies', to which another might be added that has only recently come to my ears: 'immunity constable'.
The use of the word bobby to refer to a British police constable, dates to at least 1844. The term is probably an allusion Sir Robert (so, "Bobby") Peel, who was the British Home Secretary when the Metropolitan Police Act was passed in 1828