What qualifications do I need to join the Police?

If you want to work for the police you can now do so in a number of different roles:

• Police officers - where you will be really on the front line getting involved in the nitty gritty of police work - there are a range of levels once you have become a police officer for example sergeant and inspector.
• PCSOs or Police community support officers - where you will be in uniform but without the same police powers as the police officers. Nether the less you will still get involved in a wide range of issues and it can be a challenging and worthwhile career.
• Special constables are unpaid, yet trained volunteers who assist the police. You are asked to give 4 hours of your time a week and these roles are often taken by people who just want to help in the community and for one reason or another have the time to give.
• Other support roles - there are a wide range of support roles within the police and if you are interested in one of these it is advisable to check with your local force.

Pros
• A well respected job in the community
• A varied job - no two days will be the same
• Exciting and therefore rewarding - you will encounter all kinds of challenges
• The option to specialise in a particular field eg. firearms or child protection

Cons
• At times it can be a dangerous job
• You will be working long, unpredictable and unsociable hours
• Although you may be well liked by most people, there may be elements of the community who disliked the police

GCSEs and other qualifications required
You don't need any formal qualifications to join the police force, but depending on the force you are applying to you will have to pass a number of competency based tests and undertake a medical where your fitness will be tested and you will have to take a drug test. You will then have to undertake the police training programme.

It normally possible to join the police at different levels for example you may take a degree then join, and you will find that your promotion route is different.

How long will it take to get qualified?
Depending on the force you wish to join it could take 8 to 9 months from initial application to your start date. You will then have to undertake an initial training course which takes around 8 weeks. After this you will be on a two year probationary period which you will have to successfully complete.

The typical salary for a police office is £20,000 to around £55,000 for very senior levels.

Useful websites
Police recruitment site with a good list of frequently asked questions www.police-recruitment.co.uk
Police - Could You? site www.policecouldyou.co.uk/officers
A list of forces in the UK www.police.uk/forces