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Police Eligibility Criteria (Police Recruitment UK) FAQs

What are the age requirements to become a UK police officer?

In the UK you can apply for a police constable role at 17 years old. However, you must be 18 years old at the time you are appointed. Whilst there is no upper age limit, the average retirement age for a constable is 60 years old and it is important to note that new recruits must complete a two-year probation period.

What are the nationality requirements to become a UK police officer?

To be eligible for a police constable role you must be:

  • A British citizen
  • An EC/EEA national
  • A commonwealth citizen

It is a common requirement for applicants who have lived abroad to have residence in the UK for the 3 years immediately preceding their application. This is to ensure all vetting checks can be thoroughly carried out.

What qualifications are required to become a UK police officer?

Qualification requirements can vary depending on the Force you are applying to and the entry route you apply via. There are several entry routes to joining one of the 43 polices forces in England and Wales.

  • Direct application – if you are applying directly to your chosen police force you will typically need either two A-levels, an equivalent level 3 qualification, or experience from a similar field such as the Armed Forces. Usually, the qualification requirements will be available on the website of the force.
  • Apprenticeship – applicants who do not hold a degree can apply via the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship scheme if this is available from the force you are applying to. This is a three-year degree apprenticeship which involves education as well as working in the field. To be eligible for the PCDA scheme applicants must have passed GCSE English language with a grade of C/4 and above.
  • Degree-Holder Programme – applicants who hold a degree (in any subject) are eligible to apply for a two-year training programme which, upon completion, awards a graduate diploma in professional policing and also opens further options into specialist routes such as investigation which can, in turn, lead to a detective constable role.

Can I become a police officer if I have a criminal record?

A criminal record is not an automatic barrier to entry. You must disclose all convictions, cautions, and fixed penalty notices (such as traffic offenses) and each one will be assessed based on factors such as:

  • the age of the offender when the offense took place
  • how much time has elapsed since the offense
  • the nature of the offense

You can check with the force you applying to prior to submitting your application to clarify.

Failure to disclose any relevant information, or a conviction such as those which include elements of violence, fraud, or abuse of a child will result in your application being rejected.

Can I join the police if I have tattoos?

Tattoos are largely accepted in the police and you will be required to disclose information about any tattoos you have. There are several circumstances where a tattoo may result in your application being rejected.

  • Tattoos on the face, or neck above the collar line
  • Tattoos on the hands or fingers
  • Tattoos that are discriminatory or offensive
  • Tattoos that indicate views that do not align with the code of ethics police officers are upheld to

Does my financial status affect joining the police?

Police officers are required to undergo financial checks to ensure they are not in a vulnerable position with regards to corruption.

Candidates with outstanding CCJs, or who have been registered as bankrupt will not be accepted. A Certificate of Satisfaction must be provided with applications for anyone with a discharged bankruptcy debt.

What are the physical fitness requirements to join the police?

All candidates are required to pass a fitness test comprising of a dynamic strength test and an endurance test.

  • The dynamic strength test requires applicants to perform five seated chest pushes and five seated back pulls on the Dynomachine to measure strength. An effective way to prepare for this test is to carry out bench press exercises, lateral pull-down exercises and press ups.
  • For the endurance test you will be asked to run backwards and forwards along a 15-metre track in time to a series of bleeps. This is also known as the bleep test. You will carry on running whilst in time with a bleep and you must reach level 5.6 of the test.

What are the health requirements to join the police?

All applicants are required to undergo a medical check, which includes an eyesight test, to ensure their mental and physical health meets the standards required of a police officer. Ideally your BMI should be between 18 and 30, but applicants slightly above this range can be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Can I apply to more than one police force at a time?

Applicants are welcome to apply to more than one force, but you will only be permitted to attend the assessment centre once per 6-month period and you cannot attend the assessment centre on behalf of more than one force.

Force Specific Guidance:

What Next?

Is Policing For Me?

Can I Join the Police?

How to Apply?

Recruitment Process

Police Competencies

Force-Specific Guides

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