Police officers in the UK find their careers to be multi-faceted and highly rewarding. If you would like to become a UK police officer, you should know that you’re certainly not alone as thousands of people each year apply due to the many benefits this career offers. This is why it’s important that you have all the information you need to fully prepare yourself for the various stages in the process of selecting the most viable candidates to become police officers. Joining the police is not easy as many qualities are assessed during the selection process.
The process of recruiting police officers is handled by each individual police force even though there are national standards in place regarding police entrance testing. The Police Initial Recruitment Tests are standardised for police forces in England and Wales and very similar in Scotland. Here are some of the most important things to know about becoming a UK police officer.
Who is Eligible to Become a Police Officer
In order to apply to become a police officer, one must be at least 18 years of age. There is no top age limit to how old you can be to apply. But even though there is no ceiling put on how old one can be to apply, it is important to know that currently most UK police retire at around the age of 55 but this age will increase with recent changes to police pensions. Every new recruit is under probation for two years.
Anyone interested in becoming a police officer must be possess British citizenship, be a EC/EEA national or a Commonwealth citizen or foreign national who has no restrictions on their stay in the United Kingdom. All people applying will be vetted in the same manner before being accepted although foreign nationals and UK citizens living in another country typically have to wait some time for security and vetting clearance. It is important to note that people who’ve unsuccessfully applied previously to join the force must wait for a period of six months from the time they were told they were not accepted to apply again.
The Process Involved with Joining the Police Force in the UK
There are many elements to the police selection process which are all designed to evaluate whether or not you’re a good candidate to join the UK police force. These elements include:
The National Application Form
The first main test is to complete the national application form. This form must be completely filled in order for you to be considered. On this form, you will be asked to give specific examples of experiences you’ve had. It is very important to be very detailed with your examples as the information you provide will be used to help determine if you possess the personal qualities required to be a good police officer.
It is a good idea to get some police application help to ensure that you fill out your application correctly and completely. Unfortunately, each year many potential candidates who would make excellent police officers fail to completely fill out their police applications wherein they are automatically rejected.
The Assessment Centre
Those applicants who pass the application phase will be invited to the Police Assessment Centre. This is known as SEARCH which stands for.
Structured Entrance Assessment for Recruiting Constables Holistically
You will receive material in the mail prior to going to the centre that will tell you what you can expect while there. When at the Assessment Centre, you will undergo a combination of tests including:
- Tests that assess your ability to summarise information, spell and construct sentences correctly
- Tests that assess how well you can solve mathematical problems
- Tests that assess how well you can reason when given facts about specific events
In addition to these written tests, you also will role-play, complete a written exercise and have a face-to-face interview. It’s important to know that police interview techniques are designed to weed out candidates not deemed suitable to become police officers. Therefore it is important to relax during your face-to-face interview so you can effectively answer the questions posed to you and to give complete answers so you can be effectively evaluated.
Police Fitness Tests
There are two parts to the fitness tests and both must be passed successfully. The police fitness test is designed to assess whether you are physically able to work as a police officer. There are two parts to the fitness test: The strength test and the endurance test which is also referred to as the police bleep test or shuttle run.
While you do not have to be a world class athlete in order to pass the fitness tests, you do need to be in decent physical condition. The police are interested in no more than the minimum standard needed to ensure you can be an effective police officer. If you take the time to prepare before the fitness test, you should be able to pass. But if you do not pass the fitness test the first time, you can re-take the test later. However, you are only given three attempts and if you fail all three times, you cannot apply again for six months.
Offer of Appointment
References and security checks are conducted on those candidates who pass the police tests. If you have made it this far in the police selection process, you can expect that the references you provided with be contacted and that a thorough security check will be done on you. If you have been living outside the UK for any period of time, the security check can take longer than usual.
This is the basic information you should know about becoming a police officer in the UK. Because there are thousands of applicants each year, it is essential that you are fully prepared for every aspect of the selection process. If you feel you need some help on how to pass the police tests or any other aspect of the process to becoming a police officer, there are many resources available you can turn to for help.