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How To Become A Police Officer - How to Prepare

To help you prepare for your application we have put together 6 top tips. We have grouped them together under the mnemonic POLICE to help you remember.

P - Prepare Thoroughly
(The 6 P's)

There is an old saying that goes Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Poor Performance. An application to join the Police Service can take a very long time, consequently you have a lot of time to make sure you are as fully prepared as possible.

Anything that is worth having is worth working for, and if your application is to succeed you can greatly enhance your chances by working hard in the time you are given.

Your overall assessment will be made up of some assessed activity situations where you will interact with a role-player, some activity situations where you will be required to maybe write a letter, and a structured interview. All of these need practice, and you would be well advised to follow some guidelines.

It is worth asking here if you have applied before and been turned down, have you spent any time looking at what you did, or did not do, on that occasion. How do you think it went? What can you do differently to improve? What were the areas that you fell down on, what can you do to put those areas right? Did you seek any feedback, beyond that provided? It is equally important when you look at this remedial work, that you do not lose sight of the good things you did, and build on those too.

Obviously you can get help through workshops (see the 'Joining Assistance' page) and there are several very reputable companies that also offer advice on all aspects of the application and selection process. (Again, see the 'Joining Assistance' page).

O - Open and Honest

Society has a very high expectation of the honesty and integrity of the people who serve it in the office of Constable. It is so important that you are honest in your application. If you have not told the truth, and get found out, that could very well spell the end of you Police career.

The fact that there is something that could prevent you from fulfilling your ambition to start as a Constable does not have to be the end of your interest. There are many other roles that the modern police service has to offer. I know of someone who really wanted to become a serving police officer, but was not able to do so because of health considerations, but joined to work in the call handing centre, where she is enjoying her work greatly.

L - Learn about the Police Force and the Force you are applying for

This is very much part of Planning and Preparation. There have been candidates who having gone right through the whole application process and arrived on their initial course without knowing that the role involved shift work and working at weekends. They were so shocked they left straight away.

In your interview there is a very good chance that you will be asked questions that will test your knowledge of the Police Service and your chosen Force. If you were going to interview someone about the Police service, what questions would you ask? There are many areas that could be tested, the aims and objectives of the force in question, what policing style does your force adopt? The government is committed to putting in place dedicated neighbourhood policing teams, how will you fit into that? Do you know how the force of your choice divides its area up to create territorial divisions? Who is you local community constable, and who is the local commander?

Every Police force has its own website, and that is a good place to start. Have you got a friend or someone who can take you and show you around? Some forces operate a 'ride on scheme' - try to get on one if it is offered.

I - In training for the Fitness Test

The fitness requirement for Police Officers is to be fit both physically and mentally. The assessment itself can be stressful, and your ability to deal with that, is part of your mental fitness requirement. Your physical fitness is assessed in a separate test, and advice as to how to pass that can be found on the 'Police Fitness Test' page page. It is important that when you turn up for assessment that you are confident in your ability to pass that part of the test.

Candidates have arrived for their assessment still 'hung over' from the night before, and been unable to complete the shuttle run. That is unforgivable; you have total control over your physical fitness, and if you prepare properly for this test, it ought to be an easy tick in the box that you can feel confident about.

Please look at the information that we provide about the test and the fitness programme designed for you by a Police Fitness Trainer that has been specially written to help you prepare and pass the test.

C - Core Competences

A better than good knowledge of the Core Competencies is essential. Every part of your assessment is done against them. When completing your application form have the competencies in mind as you work out the answers to the questions you have been set. It is important that you evidence your ability by matching your answers to the questions against the Core Competencies that relate to your role.

The headings are below and there is a summary in our own words of the area of your performance the Competency is testing.

Effective Communication

Both written and verbal communication is done in a style and way that is appropriate to the circumstances. The communication is done in a clear, effective way using appropriate language.

Community and Customer Focus

Being able to see things from the point of view of the customer, working closely with the community to provide high quality of service.

Personal Responsibility

Taking responsibility for their own performance, and dealing with the issues that arise by commitment, motivation, and integrity.


The ability to deal with difficult situations with tact, in a calm and confident way, making sound decisions while doing so.

Respect for Diversity

Being able to treat everyone; colleagues, and members of the public, with respect and taking account of their views, no matter what their race religion, background, circumstances or appearance.

Team Working

Being a Police officer you are part of a big team, it is important that you are able to build strong relationships within that team

When you are completing your application form, have these headings in the forefront of your thoughts. Many applicants now use the services of a professional application form checking service. For details, see the 'Joining Assistance' page.

E - Equality/Diversity

The society that is policed by the service in 2008 is a very multi-cultural one. It is vital that the police service has a full and proper understanding of the community it is policing, its culture, and traditions. To that end, it is also important that the people that police within that community do so without any prejudice or discrimination. Much has been written about Equality and Diversity within the police service, but if you are going to succeed in your application you really need to understand exactly why the police service places so much importance on Diversity.

In one of the south of England forces, over 30% of candidates who get through the paper sift and go on to the assessment process FAIL, and they fall down on Diversity.

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