If you would like a challenging but rewarding career assisting and protecting the community then a job within the police force may appeal to you
As a police officer you'll work in partnership with the communities you serve to maintain law and order, protect members of the public and their property, prevent crime, reduce the fear of crime and improve the quality of life for all citizens. You'll use a range of technology to protect individuals, identify the perpetrators of crime and ensure successful prosecutions against those who break the law.
Key priorities for the 45 police forces in the UK include maintaining public order through combating organised crime, countering the threat of terrorism and acting against antisocial behaviour. Police officers work closely with members of the criminal justice system, social workers, schools, local businesses, health trusts, housing authorities, town planners and community groups. By doing this they are able to provide advice, education and assistance to those who want to reduce crime or have been affected by crime.
As a police officer you’ll need to:
Income figures are intended as a guide only.
Full-time police officers complete an average of 40 duty hours per week, in eight hour shifts. However, since they provide a 24-hour public service, unsocial hours, shift work and emergency call-outs are a regular feature of the job. Regular shifts are not usually longer than ten hours, but overtime may be available and is paid at a higher rate.
Part-time working, job-sharing and flexible hours are available. Career breaks are possible after the probationary period.
There are no formal educational requirements for entry to the police service; however consultations taking place may eventually result in new starters having to complete a practical degree/high-level apprenticeship before entering the profession. Currently, the profession is open to graduates, those with an HND qualification and non-graduates alike.
Recruitment and selection procedures are managed (using a nationally-agreed, competency-based framework) by police forces at a local level. The recruitment process will normally include the following steps:
Entry is open to British and Commonwealth citizens, EC/EEA citizens and foreign nationals who have no restrictions on their leave to remain in the UK.
Most of the training is done on the job, although you may find undertaking postgraduate study helpful for gaining promotion. Search postgraduate courses in police studies.
You will need to have:
Pre-entry experience is not essential, although it is advantageous to have some experience of working with individuals or groups in the community, such as sports coaching or working with local youth groups.
Other useful experience might be as a volunteer, such as in the Volunteer Police Cadets. The Metropolitan Police has its own specific site for London volunteers; see Metropolitan Police Volunteer Police Cadets. You can also volunteer to be a police community support officer (PCSO) or a special constable often referred to as a 'Special'.
Specials are volunteers who receive expenses and, after full training, have the same powers as a regular police constable. They are generally used to ensure public safety at major events or in combating city-centre crime and disorder. Positions are available throughout the UK.
When applying, it is important to be able to explain your reasons for choosing a career in the police force, and provide details of any contacts made within the service. You should be able to demonstrate knowledge of the local force, the area which it covers, its senior officers and its structure and key challenges. For more information, see Police Specials.
There are currently 45 police forces in the UK. With 43 in England and Wales and one single force in Scotland (Police Scotland) and Northern Ireland (Police Service of Northern Ireland). In Northern Ireland, chief constables report to local police authorities (known as the Policing Board (NIPB) in Northern Ireland), which are independent statutory bodies identifying the strategic direction of police services.
Other areas of employment include specialist forces, such as the:
Also the highly-competitive area of forensic police work:
Look for job vacancies at:
Recruitment agencies advertise roles for police officers who want to transfer services and for retired officers. See:
People with minor convictions and/or cautions are not automatically precluded from entry to the police service, although certain offences and conditions will make you ineligible, so check with your local force. Details of spent convictions, as defined by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, must be disclosed.
All probationary police constables in England and Wales undertake an extensive and professional training programme known as the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP), leading to the Level 3 Diploma in Policing (QCF), during their first two years of service.
Individual forces are responsible for the local implementation and delivery of the IPLDP and the emphasis is on local community involvement and a flexible timetable.
The IPLDP is divided into four training phases, which cover the completion of the diploma. The precise name and length of each phase varies slightly between forces, but the IPLDP curriculum is generally divided as follows:
In Scotland, the Probationer Training Programme lasts for 104 weeks. During the first 64 weeks, probationers are assessed both in the operational environment and academically at the Police Scotland College. The remaining time is served in force under continued supervision, followed by a Diploma in Police Service Leadership and Management, which takes a further 18 months.
In Northern Ireland, all new recruits must successfully complete around 25 hours of e-learning in the four weeks before starting at the training college. The initial 22-week Student Officer Training Programme (SOTP), based at Police College, Garnerville, leads to a two-year probation period, including ten weeks with a tutor constable, three weeks' driver training, training in public order and the use of firearms, and continual assessment including physical competency tests.
Police officers are required to undertake ongoing training, and emphasis is placed on regular supervision, guidance and support. All police constables must complete a two-year probationary period, after which there are a variety of career opportunities available.
The police force has a clearly defined rank structure for officers:
After successful completion of the probationary period, constables are eligible to apply to work in specialist units such as:
The Police High Potential Development Scheme (HPDS) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is designed to identify and develop the future leaders of the police service. Training and support are available to help individuals to move through the ranks into senior positions within the force. Promotion is not automatic and depends on the individual's own efforts.