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Thinking About Joining the Police Force?

Matthew Williams

Established in 1829 by Sir Robert Peel, the police force has come to be an integral part of the social fabric, keeping communities safe, and deterring crime. In the almost 200 years since its inception, 45 territorial police forces have now formed in the UK with several other specialised forces created.

With the UK now crying out for police officers, now is a great time to join the force.

Is the police right for me?

Joining the police means pursuing a career that makes a real difference in people’s lives. It involves both professionalism and a human touch, with plenty of challenges.

To join the police you should relish a challenge, and have high personal integrity, a strong sense of moral duty, and plenty of confidence.

While some roles in the police are both physically and emotionally taxing, police forces in the UK are open to people of all abilities, genders, and backgrounds. All forces are also part of the Disability Confident Scheme meaning those with both physical and mental disabilities are actively encouraged to join.

Daily activities

The daily activities of a police officer involve the protection of the general public through law enforcement.

Ask any police officer and they’ll tell you that no two days are the same and you really never know what the next shift will bring. Despite police officers reporting high job satisfaction levels, it’s not an easy job with long shifts, potentially dangerous situations, lots of responsibility, and, of course, paperwork.

In practical terms this involves:

●      Attending serious incidents involving crime, theft, violence, and injury

●      Interview suspected criminals and witnesses

●      Investigate crimes

●      Attend court and give evidence

●      Crowd and traffic control

●      Communicate with the general public

Routes into policing

With most police forces running active recruitment drives, there are now several routes into the police with the most common being:

Apprenticeship (PCDA)

A Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) ]takes three years to complete and is one of the most popular routes into policing. Upon completion, you will have earned a BSc Professional Policing Practice degree and be a qualified police officer.

A PCDA involves both active police work and off-duty study. You’ll join active police officers, learn on the job, and experience a wide range of different incidents. A PCDA will not only teach you the practical side of the job but personal study and lectures will introduce new concepts and theory to you, helping you to become a more effective officer.

Just like other types of apprenticeship, you’ll get paid while learning with a Year 1 salary averaging around £19,000-£21,000. This increases in both years 2 and 3 of your apprenticeship.

To join a PCDA you’ll need 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent.

Degree Entry

Holding a degree in any subject is another way to join the police.

The first option is to apply for the degree holder programme. This takes two years and also involves both on and off-the-job training. Upon completion, you will have earned a Level 6 Post-Graduate degree in Profession Policing Practice.

The alternative is to apply for Police Now, a new charity-run scheme that helps graduates entering policing. There are two programmes on offer equipping graduates with the skills necessary for neighbourhood policing or investigative work.

Apply directly (IPLDP)

The Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP) is the traditional route into policing. This involves applying to police forces directly.

After submitting your application, you may be invited to attend an assessment centre. Here you’ll be interviewed and take some written tests. Following this, you will need to complete demonstrate your physical fitness. This stage also involves a medical examination, including an eyesight test.

Lastly, you will have a background check run against you to check for any criminal convictions or incidents that may bar you from becoming a police officer.

How much do police officers earn?

New recruits still undertaking their PCDA can expect to earn somewhere between £19,000 to £21,000 a year with wage increases introduced regularly throughout a police career.

The average police salary in the UK is £29,000 with experienced officers able to earn as much as £41,000.

Career progression

A career in policing offers enormous room for promotion and lateral movement, with plenty of opportunities to change direction within the force itself.

For police officers in the UK, there are 9 ranks to progress through from Constable to Sergeant, all the way to Chief Constable (some police forces have additional ranks). Each of these has different responsibilities and duties, as well as better pay.

There are also specialist policing routes officers can follow. These include:

●      Criminal investigation (CID)

●      Anti-fraud

●      Firearms

●      Drugs

●      Counter-terrorism

●      Road-traffic

●      Dog-handling

●      Horse-mounted policing

Each of these has its own unique career progression routes, with an enormous amount of experiences to be had from each.


While police work isn’t for everyone, those who follow this path can expect an exciting and interesting career serving the general public in various forms. With decent pay and good job security, becoming a police officer is also a safe option for those looking to start a long-standing career.

We can give you access to various careers fairs, advice, and employment opportunities with the UK Careers Fair. As the leading provider of recruitment events in the UK, you’ll be sure to find a spot that fits you. Check out our services now and kick off your career journey.

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