Table of Contents

Home » Application Form

Police Application Form (How to apply & Tips and example SJT sifting questions)

Eligibility Criteria

Before starting to complete your application, it is vital that you check the eligibility criteria for becoming a police officer in England and Wales. In the following paragraphs you will find the acceptable requirements to allow you to apply for the role of police officer.

Age Requirement
To apply to become a police officer you must be at least 17 years old, although you will not be appointed until your 18th birthday. As the selection process can take up to a year the timing should work out fine. There is no current upper age limit, but please bear in mind the usual retirement age for police officers is 60 and you must be able to complete the two-year probationary period as a police constable.

To be eligible to apply to become a police officer, you must you must be a British citizen or an EU/EEA national. If you are a foreign national you may be eligible to apply as long you have no restrictions on your stay in the UK.

Under usual circumstances, you would be expected to be living in the UK for at least 3 years immediately preceding your application, unless you are ex British armed forces personnel or have worked for the British Government overseas.

You will be required to have a minimum of a level 3 qualification to apply. This could be in the form of an A-Level, Level 3 NVQ, National diploma or a degree or masters. There are other entrance routes available, so please check with the force you are considering applying to for further information.

Criminal Record
Obviously, a clean bill of health in this section is desirable. However, if you do have some historic minor convictions, this may not disqualify you from applying. Please do ensure you provide any details of any convictions or cautions, including speeding and road offences. If you do fail to declare any convictions, this will most definitely result in your application being rejected. Always be honest, as this will be checked.

Financial Position
All applicants will be expected to manage any outstanding debts, loans and mortgages etc. Any defaulted debts may have a negative impact on your application. If at any time you have been declared bankrupt of have any outstanding County Court Judgements, your application will more than likely be rejected.

Physical Condition
The role of a police officer is physically challenging, so you will be required to be in a reasonably fit condition. During the selection process you will be required to pass a fitness test. Support is available for candidates to ensure they meet the required fitness conditions to be successful.

Health and Mental Wellbeing
As police officers will be dealing with stressful, traumatic and at times emotional issues, it is vital that you are able to cope with the demands the job will encounter. There are a number of support facilities available for personnel, but when you do apply it is vital that you declare any pre-existing conditions, mentally or physically.

Your eyesight will be required to be up to a certain required standard to fulfil the role of a police officer. Your eyesight must be up to a certain required standard to fulfil the role of a police officer. If you have any concerns regarding this, we would recommend you contact the recruitment team to ascertain if any concerns with your eyesight are likely to reject your application.

This policy will differ between forces, so please check with the force of your choice when applying. In the majority of cases as long as the tattoo, is not offensive, intimidating or particularly noticeable then it should not negatively impact your application. In some cases, you may be asked to submit images of the tattoo(s).

Political Views
The police service will not be able to accept applications from anyone who is affiliated with, or a member of, an extreme political group. It is vital that police officers are impartial when performing their duties in-spite of any political or personal views. In the case where you do not believe your views/membership are of an extreme nature, you must still declare this to the vetting team for their decision. Failing to do so, will result in an automatic rejection of your application.

Driving License
Most police services in the UK will require you to hold a full manual license when applying to become a police officer. Some individual forces also have a set criteria for any penalty points against your license. If you do have penalty points, we suggest you contact the force being applied to for full clarification.

Previous Applications

Although you can submit applications to different forces at the same time, you can only sit one assessment during a 6-month period. However, if you manage to score between 45 and 49 on your previous attempt, you may be allowed to re-sit the assessment within 3 months.

Now, you have reached the end of the eligibility criteria, and are happy that you are eligible to apply you can start to work on your application. The first step in this is to head over to the website of the force you wish to apply for and start to submit your application. If you are unsure if your force is recruiting you can check online which forces are recruiting by heading over to the following web page:

Start Your Application

Once you have decided on which police force you will be applying to, you will need to start to fill in your application. Most of the time, the application will be filled in online via the recruitment portal on the website of your chosen force. It is now very rare to be asked to fill in a paper application, which is good as any mistakes can be easily rectified before submission. The application form will be split into different sections as below;

  • Personal details (name, address and date of birth)
  • Your education and any qualifications
  • Employment history
  • Details of any convictions
  • Financial and business interest declaration
  • Details of any tattoos
  • Competency and Values based questions

You should have no difficulty in completing the first six sections, but please ensure you follow these tips:

Tip 1 – Ensure your application is checked for accuracy, spelling and grammatical errors. Check yourself, but also ask a friend or family member to check over as we can often miss our own mistake if it is right in front of us but it will be obvious to a fresh pair of eyes.

Tip 2 – Tailor your application to the job description. Ensure your qualities and skills stand out.

Tip 3 – Ensure you include your full employment history on the form, it is important that you provide a full history from when you left full-time education. If there are gaps, ensure you can provide valid reasoning for this.

Tip 4 – You will need to list all of your educational qualifications. Even if you cannot remember them all, you may be able to view a history of your records here:

Tip 5 – It is vital that you are completely honest when completing the application form, never fail to mention anything that you feel may harm your application. If the application asks for the information, and it applies to you, you must include it. Remember police officers are pillars of the community and are expected to act with the highest levels of honesty and integrity. If you fail to disclose any information which is required, this will be likely discovered if not during the application, but even worse during your employment which would result in your termination of employment.

Tip 6 – When starting to complete your application try to allocate as much time as possible to avoid rushing. If you leave it close to the deadline before starting you are likely to rush and make errors effecting the quality of your application.

Competency and Value Based Questions

The next part of the application focuses on both your skills, abilities and motivations for wanting to become a police officer. For this part of the application, it is vital that you are aware of, and have a comprehensive understanding of, the Competencies and Values Framework (CVF). Throughout the entire selection process, you will be assessed against the CVF at all stages including application form. The CVF forms the basis of how a police officer is expected to act and illustrates the abilities, skills and values required to become a police officer and excel in the role.

Within this section of the form, you will be asked a number of questions which seek to ascertain if a candidate will be suitable for the role of a police officer. Some examples of questions you may be asked are; why you want to become a police officer, and also why you want to join the particular constabulary you have applied to. You will also be asked a number of questions regarding scenarios you may have experienced in previous jobs or your personal life. These types of questions are known as competency-based questions and will be heavily based around the Competencies and Values Framework. These questions will usually start with ‘Can you tell me of a time when…’ or something to a similar degree.

Below, we have provided some important advice to consider when completing this part of the application form:

Tip 1 – Ensure you have a comprehensive knowledge of the Competency and Values Framework; this is vital to your success.

Tip 2 – When answering competency-based questions, use the S.T.A.R technique when structuring your responses. This will ensure your answer flows in a clear and concise manner. S.T.A.R stands for the following:

S = Situation, explain the situation.

T = Task, what you determined the task was to resolve the situation.

A = Action, what actions you took to fulfil the task.

R = Result, what was the result of your actions and was the situation resolved?

When answering these questions, always base your response on a situation you have been in, do not use hypothetical examples of what you would do if in this situation.

Tip 3 – Try to highlight any skills you currently have which align with the values and competencies and include these in your responses.

Tip 4 – Research the force’s website which you are applying to find out about any current initiatives/operations they are involved in.

Tip 5 – Let your qualities shine through! When completing your application be sure that the assessor is aware of the strengths and abilities you could bring to the role. If you have been involved in any community activities, tell them, this will only strengthen your application. Have you undertaken any volunteering work? Again, emphasise this as these are all positive indicators.

Tip 6 – Once you have finished the competency and value-based questions, double-check your answers against the CVF to ensure you have fully covered these within your responses.

Submitting Your Application

Once you have completed the application in full, check to ensure all sections are completed and no questions have been left unanswered. Check again for any spelling or grammar issues and, as previously stated, get someone else to check too as a fresh pair of eyes might notice an error you have missed. Upon submission of the form, and if successful you will proceed to the next stage which may include a Situational Judgement Test. Not all forces include this stage and may proceed directly to the first stage of the online assessment process the Competency-Based Interview.

For the purpose of this article, we have assumed that the process does include a Situational Judgement Test and have provided information on this in the next section.

The Situational Judgement Test (SJT)

The situational test, is designed to test your ability to make the correct decision based on the Competencies and Values Framework. The test itself is made up of 12 questions with scenarios based on the duties of a police officer. You will have up to 120 minutes to complete the test, but it should take no longer than 30 minutes.

The test structure involves you being presented with a feasible scenario you could face as a police officer. Once you have read the scenario it is your task to choose how you would respond to this by choosing one of the 4 answer options presented to you.

The test, and your success, relies heavily on your knowledge and understanding of the Competencies and Values Framework. To give yourself the best chance of success in this test, follow this two-step process:

Step 1

Read the scenario and ascertain from the information provided which elements of the CVF the scenario relates to.

Step 2

Ascertain which of the answers best reflect how you would respond to the scenario (based on the CVF) and answer accordingly.

IMPORTANT NOTE! Once you have started the test you will need to finish in one sitting, it will not be possible to take a break and come back to the test at a later date, so please ensure you have allocated appropriate time to complete the test.


To assist you further, we have provided you with some sample questions to give you an idea on how the test is structured and how to answer.

Sample Question 1

Overnight, the local park has been declared as a crime scene. You have been tasked with ensuring that nobody enters the park, which has been cordoned off with crime scene tape. All of a sudden, a man approaches you:

Man: Hi there, I left my bag in the park yesterday afternoon. It should be on the bench near the water fountain. Is it okay if I go in and get it? I’ll only be 2 minutes.’

  1. ‘I’ll have to ask my sergeant about that, give me a moment.’
  2. ‘I’m very sorry but this area is a crime scene now. If your bag is not processed as evidence then we will leave it on the bench and you will be able to come back and retrieve it later.’
  3. ‘I’m sorry sir but this is a crime scene, we can’t allow anyone to enter.’
  4. ‘Since your bag has been left at the scene, it could be used as evidence. For this reason, I’m afraid I can’t retrieve it for you. What I can do is take your details and if the bag gets released from evidence, we can arrange to return the bag to you.’

Sample Question 1 Suggested Answer

  1. ‘Since your bag has been left at the scene, it could be used as evidence. For this reason, I’m afraid I can’t retrieve it for you. What I can do is take your details and if the bag gets released from evidence, we can arrange to return the bag to you.’

Explanation: This is a crime scene, meaning that members of the public are absolutely not allowed in. The most efficient response is to politely, but firmly, deny the man entrance. By also collecting his details you are attempting to resolve the man’s issue by arranging to return the bag if it is released from evidence.

Sample Question 2

You are sitting in the staff canteen, when three other members from your constabulary sit down at your table. As you engage in friendly discussion with them, two of the members begin to mock the other person for his religion. Although they are only joking, you can see that the individual in question has been upset by these comments.

Select the answer option that reflects how you would react in this scenario.

  1. Join in, it’s just a bit of banter.
  2. Speak up, and inform your colleagues that they should have more respect for other religions.
  3. Ask the offended colleague to speak to you in private afterwards, where you will discuss the comments.
  4. Try to change the subject.

Sample Question 2 Suggested Answer

  1. Speak up, and inform your colleagues that they should have more respect for other religions.

This is the most efficient response, as you are clearly demonstrating to the affected individual that discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated, as well as admonishing your colleagues for their behaviour.

Force Specific Guidance:

What Next?

Is Policing For Me?

Can I Join the Police?

How to Apply?

Recruitment Process

Police Competencies

Force-Specific Guides

Did You Find This Page Helpful?