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Police officer: Salary and conditions

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  • Salaries vary between forces but the typical starting salary for police constables in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is £23,317 and £25,962 after initial training. In Scotland it's slightly higher, starting at £23,493 and rising to £26,223 after completing the initial training period.
  • The range of typical salaries after several years' experience is £36,519 to £41,040 for sergeant; £46,788 to £50,751 for inspector; and £51,789 to £53,919 for chief inspector.
  • London weighting up to around £6,500 and additional competency-related threshold payments are available for all ranks.
  • Depending on location, other benefits can include free London travel, flexible working and key worker living benefits.
  • Minimum 23 days' annual leave plus fully paid sick leave.
  • A police pension scheme is automatically provided but individuals may choose to make independent pension provision.
  • A working week is 37-40 hours, with an average of two rest days. Police officers provide a 24-hour public service and so unsocial hours, shift work and emergency call-outs are a regular feature of the job. Overtime may be available and is paid at a higher rate.
  • The daily working environment is variable. You may be in a patrol car, outside on the beat, at the station or attending court.
  • The environment can be physically demanding, potentially dangerous and at times deeply harrowing.
  • Officers within the Police Service of Northern Ireland are routinely armed.
  • The work is pressurised, with officers facing continual calls on their time and resources.
  • Work conditions may be influenced by regional factors such as local terrain and culture, and the size of the force.
  • Part-time working, job-sharing and flexible hours are available. Career breaks are possible after the probationary period.
  • The police service is keen to reflect the diversity of the communities it serves and welcomes job applications from women, ethnic minority groups and the LGBT community.
  • Job opportunities exist throughout the UK and transfers between forces are possible depending on the availability of positions and the suitability of the officer concerned.
  • Police officers are expected to adhere to a dress code and a uniform and equipment are provided.
  • On appointment, police officers become members of the Police Federation of England & Wales , the Scottish Police Federation (SPF)  or the Police Federation for Northern Ireland , which act in matters of police welfare and pay and provide a range of ancillary benefits.
  • Police officers are not permitted to join a trade union.
  • Police constables and sergeants usually retire after 35 years of service or on reaching the age of 60. Various compulsory retirement ages apply for higher ranks (65 for those above chief inspector).
  • Police officers are governed by a code of conduct both on and off duty.
  • Travel away from home is rare but being away from home overnight may be common because of shift work.

Salary figures are intended as a guide only.

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Written by AGCAS editors
January 2014

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