- Help to keep law and order, investigate crime and supports crime prevention
- You'll need to learn facts and procedures quickly, to be calm and decisive in challenging situations
- You may be promoted to sergeant, and then inspection
As a police officer, your role will depend on which force you join and whether you later specialise. You'll work with other police officers and staff such as police community support officers, crime scene and road traffic accident investigators.
- Investigating crimes and offences
- Responding to calls for help from the public
- Interviewing suspects and making arrests
- Giving evidence in court
- Controlling traffic and crowds at large public events and gatherings
- Giving the public advice on personal safety and crime prevention
- Promoting respect for people in relation to their race, diversity and human rights
You might be working as a uniformed officer on foot or in a patrol car. Even if you are office-based, you could be carrying out a range of tasks meaning you spend time outside as well. Your working environment might be outdoors in all weathers, as well as physically and emotionally demanding.
To be a police officer, you'll need knowledge of public safety and security, customer service skills for treating people fairly and with respect, excellent verbal communication skills, patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations, leadership skills, sensitivity and understanding for dealing with traumatic situations, active listening skills, and negotiation skills for keeping people safe.
You could do the Professional Policing Degree run by some universities before applying to join a force. Alternatively, you could get a degree in any subject and apply to the Degree Holder programme, or the Police Now graduate leadership scheme.
You could take a Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Public Services before applying to the police, although this is not essential.
You could also start by doing a police constable degree apprenticeship.
You'll usually apply to one police force at a time, where you'll visit an assessment centre to be interviewed and given various tests, including physical fitness, medical and eyesight checks. You can prepare for your application by doing the Certificate in Knowledge of Policing.
If you've got management experience, you could apply directly as an inspector or superintendent. If you have an upper second class degree, you could apply for the Police Now Graduate Leadership Development Programme.
Voluntary work as a special constable can be beneficial, and you could also get paid work as a police community support officer (PCSO) before applying for police officer training.
You'll spend 2 years as a student officer before becoming a police constable, where you'll then decide if you want to specialise in a particular area of policing. Areas include Criminal Investigation Department (CID), anti-fraud, road traffic, drugs or firearms, counter-terrorism, air support, underwater search, dog-handling, or mounted policing.
You'll need to be aged 18 or over; be a British or Commonwealth citizen, a European Union (EU), or European Economic Area (EEA) citizen, or a foreign national with the right to stay and work in the UK for an indefinite period; and pass background and security checks.
If you're aged 13 to 18, you could become a police cadet.
With experience, you can apply for promotion to sergeant, inspector, chief inspector, or higher.