Careers in Policing

Saturday, June 25, 2022

A career in policing can be really rewarding, both for you as an individual and also for the communities you’ll serve.

Becoming a police officer gives you the power to make your difference in the community. You’ll help reduce crime and provide a reassuring presence, making life safer and happier for the people you serve.

When you join the police, you’ll develop both personally and professionally. Through the training you receive, you’ll end up with skills for life that will serve you well as your career progresses.

REWARDS OF POLICING

Becoming a police officer gives you the power to make your difference in the community. You’ll help reduce crime and provide a reassuring presence, making life safer and happier for the people you serve.

When you join the police, you’ll develop both personally and professionally. Through the training you receive, you’ll end up with skills for life that will serve you well as your career progresses.

TRAINING

Being a police officer is both rewarding and challenging - you’ll sometimes need to operate outside of your comfort zone and handle difficult or complex situations. This means you’ll need to be able to think on your feet and work well with colleagues as part of an effective team. You’ll also need great people skills, remaining calm and patient with members of the public, particularly in stressful or volatile situations. 

The training you'll receive

To enable you to do your job safely and effectively, you’ll receive world-class training (both classroom-based and on the job) and mentoring, which will see you develop the skills and knowledge you need to be able to:

  • Apply investigative skills and intelligence to solving crimes
  • Deal with safety issues within the community
  • Ensure public order and safety while supporting major police operations
  • Develop an understanding of new technologies
  • Deliver national policing objectives at a community level

While each force manages its own training programme, you’ll typically have a mix of: 

  • Around 18 – 22 weeks classroom-based training – you’ll learn a lot about various aspects of policing, the law and procedures but don’t worry, it’s definitely not boring! It’s normally broken up by role plays and practical sessions. 
  • You’ll receive first aid and personal safety training.
  • You’ll also undertake a driving course to give you the on-the-road skills you need to do your job. 
  • You’ll then typically be assigned to a tutor and spend around three months as part of a response rota, developing your on-the-job skills and experience, from taking statements to diffusing tense situations and making your first arrest. 

And at every step, you’ll get lots of support from your tutors and the experienced colleagues you’ll be assigned to work with. 

How we're creating a diverse and inclusive police service

  • Recruitment and selection processes - all police recruitment processes are fair and based on merit. 
  • Positive Action - local forces have a range of initiatives underway to encourage people from all backgrounds to apply to join the police and support serving officers. Check out your chosen force's website to see what positive action initiatives they're running.
  • Faith considerations - police forces are supportive of all religions, making adjustments to give officers the time and freedom to practice their faith.

IS POLICING RIGHT FOR ME?

Starting a career in the police can be one of the best things you’ll ever do. You’ll be able to make a real difference in your community, reducing crimes and making people safer. But being a police officer isn’t for everyone – it’s one of the most challenging careers you can choose, being physically, mentally and emotionally demanding.

You should consider whether you can: 

  • Deal with the complex and sensitive cases, requiring clear reasoning and evidence gathering
  • Think on your feet – problem solving and responding to new challenges
  • Develop new skills as data and technology become ever more important to policing
  • Work well with colleagues as part of an effective team
  • Have great people skills, remaining calm and patient with members of the public, particularly in stressful or volatile situations
  • Handle traumatic situations and be able to communicate information sensitively
  • Be decisive and use your police powers appropriately
  • Give clear and accurate evidence in court
  • Work shifts, nights and weekends (including public holidays)
  • Be flexible about where you work - you might not work in your preferred location

You’ll receive training and support throughout your career to help you manage the demands of policing, but it’s important to be sure that becoming a police officer is right for you.

Do I need a degree to join the police?

No, there is a degree holder entry route but in most cases, you’ll need a minimum Level 3 qualification such as an A-Level or equivalent. This varies between different forces. The police force you apply to will clearly set out the specific criteria you need to meet on their website.

The application process

There are a number of different entry routes for joining the police, depending on your experience and educational qualifications. Find out which entry route could be the best one for you. 

We welcome applications from people of all backgrounds, cultures and experiences and you don’t need a degree to join. That’s why there are various ways to join the police.

What’s the best route for me?

Choose an option below for more detail on your entry route options:

The three-year Apprenticeship lets you earn while you learn. Some forces are still offering ‘Traditional Entry’ too.

Apprenticeship and Traditional Entry programmes

The two-year work-based Degree Holder and Detective Degree Holder Entry programmes both see you end up with a graduate diploma in Professional Policing Practice when you complete your probation. You could also apply to the Police Now graduate programme.

Degree Holder and Detective Degree Holder Entry programme

Studying for or completed the Professional Policing Degree?

Some forces offer a dedicated entry programme for graduates with the Degree in Professional Policing. 

Professional Policing Degree Holder

You can rejoin at your existing rank or potentially at a higher rank based on experience you’ve gained outside policing.

More about rejoining

Some forces have dedicated entry programmes for people who already volunteer. Even if your chosen force doesn’t, your commitment and experience will be valued.

More on joining as a paid officer

You don’t always need to join straight into paid roles. You can volunteer as a Special Constable, where you’ll undertake the same training as a regular paid Police Constable, while committing to a minimum of four hours a week. Find out more about what’s involved.