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Working in the police

Police officer standing outside police car, speaking into a radio.Find out what's required to join the police and how to apply.

Becoming a police officer

Job requirements

You don't need any particular qualifications to join the police, but you will have to complete written tests as part of your application.

You'll need to be able to demonstrate good physical and mental health, physical fitness and eyesight. Although there used to be height requirements, these have been abolished.

You won't be able to join the police if you have received a caution in the last five years, or committed a violent crime or public order offence. Other than this, a criminal record won't necessarily prevent you from joining. Your financial situation will also be checked. This is because people with serious debts or other major financial problems may be more vulnerable to corruption. You also can't have any offensive or very prominent tattoos.

The specific requirements will depend on the police force you apply to, so check with them before you apply. Wherever you apply, it will be very useful to have relevant experience working with people in the community. You may also have to complete a specific training course known as the Certificate in Knowledge of Policing (CKP).

How to apply

Each police force runs its own recruitment, so you'll need to check with the force you want apply to for instructions. Places are often very limited, and as a result many forces will recruit new officers from their Special Constables and other existing staff, so you may not be able to apply directly.

Some forces offer graduate schemes or fast-track entry for people with certain qualifications.

You can only apply to one police force at a time, and if you are not successful, you won't be able to apply again for six months.

If you want to specialize in a particular area, such as counter-terrorism or the CID, you'll need to become a police constable first and then apply to specialize.

Other police roles

Community Support Officers

Community Support Officers (CSOs) do similar work to police officers, but don't have police powers. The requirements and application process are very similar to those for police officers.

Special constables

Special constables are volunteer police officers. They have the same powers as regular police officers, but work fewer shifts and are unpaid. The requirements and application process are similar to those for regular officers.

Volunteering as a special constable is likely to boost your chances of getting a job as a police officer.

Civilian roles

If you want to work for the police but don't want to be a police officer, there are many other jobs available, from administrative roles to specialist investigator positions.

These roles will normally be advertised on the police force's website, and can be applied for like any other job.

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