Police recruitment

Routes into policing

If you enjoy facing challenges, solving problems and would like to contribute to keeping your community safe whilst developing a wider range of skills, then policing could be for you.

There are many different ways you can contribute to the police. The sections below provide an overview of the different entry routes into policing Applying or enquiring directly to Forces and undertaking volunteering opportunities are possible next steps available to all levels of applicants. In recognition of this, we provide details of these immediately below.

  • Search and apply for vacancies and opportunities on Force websites - one of the best ways to see what jobs and opportunities are available in your preferred area, is to look through the Force's website. The website provides a list of all 43 forces and their websites. Please check with your chosen force for more information regarding current and future recruitment campaigns. Vacancies are also advertised on the College of Policing website
  • Volunteering - There are a number of volunteer roles available for those interested in working with the Police Service in their spare time. Forcees have different needs, so contact your local Force for details of volunteering opportunities in your area.


If you have an interest in contributing to the work of your local Force but aren't able or interested in taking a full time post.
Volunteer Police Cadets (VPC)            
Police Cadets is a volunteer programme for young people (aged between 13-18) where they will be taught basic knowledge in a variety of policing activity. This might include insight into how to deal with a variety of situations and the procedures used by the police. Cadets may also learn about the history of the police and will develop knowledge of modern day policing.
There are lots of Police cadet schemes around the UK, Further information can be found here.

Special constables
Special constables are volunteer police officers. You will work alongside regular police officers and bring the skills and experiences from your day job to protect and support your local community
Information about becoming a special constable can be found here:
Special Constables

Entry Level
If you're looking to work your way up the ranks or join a scheme to build specific skills.
Police Constable (PC)
PCs are front line officers who maintain law and order, protect members of the public and their property and prevent, detect and investigate crime.

For further information on becoming a police constable can be found here:

Police Constables

Police Now (and other graduate programmes)
Through a graduate programme you will learn key skills related to the police as well as wider leadership and life skills. The structure and focus of the programme will vary depending upon which you apply to.
Some forces offer graduate leadership development programmes. One example of this is Police Now (link below) but you can check individual force websites for information about any other local programmes.

Look for representatives from Police Now or your local Force at university career events.
Middle – Senior Level
If you've already gained a number of years of work experience and believe your skills could be valuable within a policing context.
Direct Entry Inspector
A police inspector is at middle management level and responsible for supervising the ranks of constable and sergeant. Responsibilities of a police inspector include controlling, planning, organising and authorising the work of police officers and civilian staff

The Direct Entry Inspector programme opens up the Police Service to people who can bring new perspectives and diverse backgrounds to support the continuous development of policing.

See also the Lead Beyond website

Direct Entry Superintendent
A police superintendent is at senior management level and responsible for the setting of strategy, standards and everyday operational policy across the Force. Key tasks might include managing and developing people, driving organisational performance and ensuring finance and other resources are used efficiently and effectively.
Direct Entry Superintendent is aimed at proven successful senior leaders from outside of policing.
See also the Lead Beyond website
Civilian Roles Police Staff
There are no end of opportunities for people to join policing in a host of roles at all levels that support policing

Opportunities will vary from force to force. Please visit your local force website for further detail and to see what is available.

Where can I find out more about the different roles within policing?


The above table and Skills for Justice website provide a good overview of the roles on offer across policing.

Additionally, you can visit individual force websites for information and for further details of roles available within your preferred area.

If you are applying for a Police Constable role, if your application is successful you will go through to the Police SEARCH Recruit Assessment Centre

If you are applying to one of the Direct Entry programmes, we recommend you take a good look through the website. You can also attend an event or open day to find out more about how to prepare for application and assessment – details of which can be found on the website.