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. You can find further detail elsewhere on this website or by contacting your local Force.

For your information, we use the term Police Officer to refer to warranted officers of all ranks and Police Staff when talking about civilians employed in support functions. On this page the ** symbol indicates routes for Police Officer roles only. All others routes are available for Police Officers and for Police Staff.

We have set out the routes to enter policing at different levels in the table below. 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. 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. Forces 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 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.
If you're aged between 13 and 18 and you would like to get a sense of what it's like to be a Police Officer as well as to learn wider life skills, you could join the volunteer Police cadets. There are lots of Police cadet schemes around the UK, contact your local Force for details. Many forces now collaborate under a national framework, details of which can be found here:
Police Cadet units
Become a Police Cadet

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.
The Special Constabulary is a force of trained volunteers who work with and support their local Police Force. Special constables come from a range of different backgrounds and experiences - they are teachers, taxi drivers, accountants and secretaries, or any number of other careers.

Specials work with their Police Force to tackle crime in their community. Once they have completed their training, they have the same powers as regular officers and wear a similar uniform. Further details can be found here:
Special Constables
Police Specials website

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.
As a Police Officer your job will be to reduce crime and the fear of crime. You'll work to build relationships with local people and inspire confidence that the police understand and are prepared to deal with the issues that matter most to them. Policing will enable you to work in partnership with the public and other organisations and make a real difference to the local community.

If you wish to apply to become a Constable, you should visit the Force website and apply for relevant vacancies. Once your application is received it will be assessed against the eligibility criteria. If successful, you will go forward to an assessment centre and interview. You can find out more.

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.

A robust two year programme will equip you will all of the policing skills that you need to implement your leadership experience in a policing environment.  

If you are a current middle manager with proven and excellent supervisory skills and leadership experience and you are ready to tackle your biggest challenges to date, this could be for you.

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. A robust 18 months programme equips participants with the knowledge and skills to make the transition from civilian leader to Police leader. If you have already proved that you can lead through change and put bold solutions in place it could be time to bring your leadership and interpersonal skills, experience and creativity to a fresh challenge

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
Police staff roles include, but are far from limited to those below:
Police Community Support Officer (PCSO)
Dedicated Detention Officer (DDO)
Custody Nurse
Crime Scene Investigator
Finance officer
Human Resources
Technical skills

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 if I am eligible to apply for a role / opportunity?

This will depend upon the type of job or role you are looking to apply for.

Further information on eligibility to become a Police Constable you can visit this page. 


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


The College of Policing and Skills for Justice websites 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.