How To Become A Police Officer
Interested in training to become a police officer? Joining the police is a rewarding career as you get to serve the public and help to prevent and investigate crime. But the process of applying, being interviewed, and being cleared to join the police isn’t straightforward these days. In fact, there are several pitfalls and common problems experienced by applicants.
That’s why we’ve put together this short guide on how to become a police officer. We’ll go through the entry requirements and give you some tips on applying to joining the police service in England and Wales successfully.
Is a police officer the right job for you?
The first question you should ask yourself is whether being a police officer is the right job for you. In other words, are you a good fit in terms of your character and personality? The job of a police officer can be very demanding in physical, mental, and emotional terms. If you are the type of person who doesn’t handle stressful situations well, then the police may not be your best option.
What qualifications do I need to join the police service?
Police forces in England and Wales don’t specify any particular qualifications to join the police as a new recruit, but to maximise your chances of success upon application, you should aim to have a minimum of at least five good GCSE grades. Don’t despair if you left school with few or no qualifications. The College of Policing who review your application will consider other real-life experience after school, so good references from employers will work in your favour too.
Physical and mental fitness
If you have some decent exam grades from school or a good track record in terms of work experience, the next thing the training college assessors will look at is your physical and mental health. Policing is a very physical job, you’ll be on your feet a lot and may have to give chase when dealing with criminals, so you need to have above average physical fitness. The stress of policing may also take its toll, especially if your mental health is poor. Therefore, you will be expected to undergo both physical and psychological testing before being accepted.
The best thing to do is to make sure you get into peak physical fitness before applying. Some people hire a physical trainer to do this or you can join a fitness group or gym. The important thing is to have a plan to improve your fitness and get in shape ready for the physical examination. There’s not a lot you can do to prepare yourself for the psychological screening. If you have recently had an episode of poor mental health, but your heart is still set on policing, it may be best to wait a while before applying so that you can say that it’s in the past and has been dealt with.
Prove your good character with a DBS check
It probably goes without saying that candidates with a criminal record are unlikely to be accepted by the College of Policing. Trainee police officers are expected to have a good moral standing and be free of a criminal past. Exceptions may be made for minor misdemeanours in the distant past, especially if you can prove how much your character has been reformed. But if you have any convictions on your record that resulted in a prison sentence, whether spent or unspent, the chance of you being disqualified from police officer training will be much higher. The police service recruitment board will consider each case carefully.
In order to show that you have a clean criminal record (or you’re unsure as to whether a past blemish may show up), it’s a good idea to get a basic online DBS check carried out. The police service will undertake a much more thorough search as they have access to all the necessary records themselves. However, the basic DBS will help you to get peace of mind that there are no charges or cautions on your record, so that you don’t waste time going through the application and interview process unnecessarily. The last thing you want is to go through weeks or months of form filling and preparation, only to find that you’ve been disqualified due to an offence committed years ago.
Online DBS checks are remarkably easy to do these days. One of our team of qualified experts will help you to navigate the DBS application process and will be on-hand to answer any questions you may have.
Honesty is the best policy
If you provide false information on your application, especially if you try to hide something that may be on your criminal record, you will be disqualified. Likewise, if you lie about your academic achievements or embellish your work experience, you leave yourself wide open to being disqualified. The police screening and vetting process are much stricter than it would be for an everyday office job, so the chances that any lie or exaggeration will be uncovered is much higher. After all, police are trained to investigate people, so it’s the least you would expect!
Anybody found falsifying information deliberately will be automatically disqualified from applying for any police service job in England and Wales, so make sure you take an honest approach. If you’re unsure about any details and dates of your work and education history, make the effort to find them out and double check them.
Passing the training
To become a fully-fledged police officer you need to pass the training and spend two years probation working as a student police officer. After the probation period of two years, if successful, you will be given the rank of Police Constable.
To find out more about obtaining a DBS to search your record in preparation for applying to join the police, get in touch with one of our team today.