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How to become a police officer

police constable careers

So what does a police officer do?

Police constables, often referred to as police officers, serve the community. They aim to protect life and property, preserve order, prevent and investigate crime, and detect and prosecute offenders.

After training, police officers work as uniformed constables on the beat (either on foot or in a patrol car) or on police station duties, these would be working on the reception desk and dealing with the public, custodial duties and working in the communications room in two-way contact with officers on the beat.

Police officers undertake a range of tasks, including:

  • responding to calls for assistance from the public

  • making enquiries into crimes and offences and making arrests

  • interviewing witnesses and suspects, preparing crime reports and taking statements

  • searching for missing persons

  • giving evidence in court

  • attending accidents and fires

  • policing large public events, concerts and demonstrations

  • visiting schools to give talks.

 

What's the working environment like working as a police officer?

Police officers normally work 40 hours a week on a shift system which can include nights, with two rest days each week. Constables would usually be expected to work weekends and public holidays. Overtime is often available. You can apply to join the police force on a part-time basis.

Though it's often glamourised on TV, the job of a police officer isn't all chasing bad guys and going deep undercover. They have to do a lot of general 'peace keeping' in the community.

Police constables may spend much of their time outdoors, on foot, in a patrol car or on a motorcycle. Work indoors is in a police station, a court of law, or on private or business premises.

 

What does it take to become a police officer?

To be a police officer you should:

  • be honest, confident and socially aware, with a mature attitude

  • be able to weigh up a situation, react quickly and take positive action

  • be resilient and able to remain calm in sometimes life-threatening situations

  • have the ability to work alone or in a team and to communicate clearly

  • have courage initiative and common sense

  • be physically fit to deal with incidents and disturbances

  • be able to record details of incidents and arrests accurately

  • be firm, yet tactful and able to show tolerance and courtesy to the public

  • have the ability to be disciplined, and able to give and receive instructions.

 

Police career opportunities 

Police constables may have the opportunity to specialise in one of the many specific branches such as the traffic police, the fraud squad or underwater search units.

A High Potential Development Scheme (HDP) exists to enable talented members of police forces to take advantage of fast track promotion opportunities. Any serving officer can apply to join the scheme after serving the initial two years as a constable. It is particularly attractive to graduates as the selection process is fairly intensive and favours candidates with good educational achievements and strong leadership abilities.

 

Watch our video...

Jade and Oscar discuss what education is needed to become a police officer...

Further information

If you would like to know anything about police careers that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.
 

UK Police Portal
www.police.uk

Police Service Recruitment
www.policecouldyou.co.uk

Consensia Partnership
www.selectnip.org

Skills for Justice
9 Riverside Court
Don Road
Sheffield
S9 2TJ
Tel: 0114 261 1499
www.skillsforjustice.com

Courses to help you become a police officer