Police Competencies

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Police Competencies Used By UK Police Services

What are the Police Officer Competencies?

The police officer competencies are the blueprint to the role of a police officer. Applicants must learn them, understand them, and most importantly be able to demonstrate them at every stage of selection, to have any chance of succeeding.

It is important to obtain a copy of the competencies prior to completing the application form. You will also use the competencies during your preparation for the assessment centre and also the final interview, if applicable.

At present, there are two sets of competencies that police constable applicants in England and Wales can be assessed against. These are the core competencies and the (newer) competencies and values framework (CVF). Many forces are currently using a combination of both sets of competencies throughout the selection process.

IMPORTANT: For each of the exercises that form the Online Assessments (and the competency-based interview) you will be assessed against the CVF. However, each of the other stages could use the CVF or the Core Competencies. It is imperative that you know which set you are being assessed against before commencement of that stage. You can confirm this with your force you are applying to.

A Breakdown of the Police Competencies

Throughout all stages of the application process candidates will be required to demonstrate an understanding and knowledge of the behavioural traits and qualities that form the police competencies. Scores are based on how well each competency (or value) is exhibited and demonstrated these, so make sure you learn them thoroughly and well in advance of the selection process.

Below is a breakdown for both sets of competencies (and the values included in the CVF) as well as a few phrases to illustrate how to demonstrate them during your application.

Public Service

  • Demonstrate a real belief in public service, focusing on what matters to the public and will best serve their interests.
  • Understand the expectations, changing needs and concerns of different communities, and strive to address them.
  • Build public confidence by talking with people in local communities to explore their viewpoints and break down barriers between them and the police.
  • Understand the impact and benefits of policing for different communities, and identify the best way to deliver services to them.
  • Work in partnership with other agencies to deliver the best possible overall service to the public.

Openness to change

  • Positive about change, adapting rapidly to different ways of working and putting effort into making them work.
  • Flexible and open to alternative approaches to solving problems.
  • Finds better, more cost-effective ways to do things, making suggestions for change.
  • Take an innovative and creative approach to solving problems.

Service delivery

  • Understand the organisation’s objectives and priorities, and how own work fits into these.
  • Plans and organise tasks effectively, taking a structured and methodical approach to achieving outcomes.
  • Manage multiple tasks effectively by thinking things through in advance, prioritising and managing time well.
  • Focus on the outcomes to be achieved, work quickly and accurately and seek guidance when appropriate. 


  • Act with integrity, in line with the values and ethical standards of the police service.
  • Take ownership for resolving problems, demonstrate courage and resilience in dealing with difficult and potentially volatile situations.
  • Act on own initiative to address issues, show a strong work ethic and demonstrate extra effort when required.
  • Uphold professional standards, act honestly and ethically, and challenge unprofessional conduct or discriminatory behaviour.
  • Ask for and act on feedback, learn from experience and develope own professional skills and knowledge.
  • Remain calm and professional under pressure, defuse conflict and be prepared to step forward and take control when required.

Decision Making

  • Gather, verify and assess all appropriate and available information to gain an accurate understanding of situations.
  • Consider a range of possible options before making clear, timely, justifiable decisions.
  • Review decisions in the light of new information and changing circumstances.
  • Balance risks, costs and benefits, think about the wider impact of decisions.
  • Exercise discretion and apply professional judgement, ensure actions and decisions are proportionate and in the public interest. 

Working with others

  • Work co-operatively with others to get things done, willing to help and support colleagues.
  • Is approachable, developing positive working relationships.
  • Explains things well, focusing on the key points and talking to people using language they understand.
  • Listen carefully and ask questions to clarify understanding, express own views positively and constructively.
  • Persuade people by stressing the benefits of a particular approach, keep them informed of progress and manage their expectations.
  • Be courteous, polite and considerate, showing empathy and compassion.
  • Deal with people as individuals and addresses their specific needs and concerns.
  • Treat people with respect and dignity, dealing with them fairly and without prejudice regardless of their background or circumstances.

Full List of the Police Competencies and Values Framework (CVF)



  • Understand the varying needs of individuals, and take these into account when making decisions.
  • Treat every person in a fair and respectful manner.
  • Ensure that they communicate effectively with everyone they meet, clearly relaying the message.
  • Challenge prejudice and discrimination, whenever it arises.
  • Make decisions using fair and objective reasoning.
  • Value and appreciate the opinions of everyone whom they come into contact with, provided they are not in contradiction with the police code of ethics. 


  • Ensure that they behave in accordance with the police code of ethics, and make decisions that are focused on benefitting the public.
  • Make decisions that will improve the reputation of the police, and understand their position as a role model within society.
  • Welcome and take on board constructive criticism.
  • Use their position of authority in society in a fair and professional manner, and as a force for positive change. 

Public Service

  • Act with the best interests of the public in mind.
  • Put the needs of the public above their own interests.
  • Adapt their communication to the appropriate audience.
  • Make a conscious effort to understand the needs of different members of the public.


  • Be truthful, honest and tactful with others.
  • Demonstrate an honest and critical approach to their own work, accepting that there are always areas for improvement.
  • Take a clear and comprehensive approach to communicating with colleagues and members of the public.
  • Behave in a way that invites members of the public, and their colleagues, to trust in them and their decision making.
  • Understand and maintain confidentiality.

Competencies (from the CVF)

Emotionally Aware

  • Treating others with respect and compassion.
  • Acknowledging other people’s opinions, values and beliefs – provided they fall within lawful boundaries.
  • Asking for help when necessary.
  • Recognising their own limitations, and seeking assistance in accordance with this.
  • Adapting their approach to the needs of specific/different individuals.
  • Promoting diversity and valuing the different qualities of individual colleagues.
  • Encouraging others to reflect on their work, and supporting them to improve.
  • Taking responsibility for the emotional welfare of their team members.
  • Understanding the reasons behind certain organisational behaviour requirements, and playing a key role in adapting and improving these expectations when necessary.
  • Using their influence in an effective and professional manner, to help resolve internal issues within the police force.
  • Viewing police work through a variety of spectrums, and being able to challenge their own views and assumptions.

Taking Ownership

  • Accurately identifying and responding to problems/issues.
  • Completing tasks with enthusiasm and positivity.
  • Taking responsibility for their own decisions.
  • Providing others with helpful and constructive feedback on their working practice.
  • Promoting an internal and external culture of ownership and responsibility, so that their colleagues can also take responsibility for their own decisions.
  • Play an active role in making improvements to the police force, through regular examination of police policies and procedures, to ensure that the service is operating to its maximum potential.
  • Taking accountability for the decisions that other members of their team make.
  • Taking personal responsibility for correcting problems that they notice within the force.
  • Embracing the idea of being a role model, and using mistakes and errors as a learning process and a chance for improvement.
  • Helping to instigate measures that will allow others to take responsibility in a more effective and smooth fashion.
  • Looking at issues from a wider police perspective, and how they will impact the reputation of the service as a whole.
  • Being someone whom others can look up to, in order to see the excellent and all-encompassing standards and values of the UK police.

Working Collaboratively

  • Working cooperatively and in harmony with colleagues and professionals from other organisations.
  • Exhibiting an approachable and friendly exterior, so that others feel comfortable asking them for help or guidance.
  • Showing an interest and appreciation in others, their views and opinions, in order to build comradery and rapport.
  • Treating every person that they meet as an individual.
  • Managing the relationship between the police service and partnership organisations, with the aim of producing long-term benefits for the general public.
  • Working with partnership organisations, to create public welfare initiatives.
  • Communicating effectively with everyone whom they come into contact with.
  • Working amicably and professionally with members of the public, to build trust in the police service.
  • Demonstrating political awareness, and an understanding of how politics can impact on the relationship between the police and their partnership agencies.
  • Helping others to build relationships with external potential partnership organisations, which could be of benefit to the police and the general public.
  • Setting the standard for the way in which partnership organisations interact with and work with the police service.
  • Helping to create an environment that is conducive to partnership work.

Deliver, Support and Inspire

  • Being willing and ready to tackle challenging tasks, with the aim of improving the output of the police service.
  • Demonstrating an understanding of how their work contributes to the police.
  • Taking a conscientious and resilient approach to police work, always endeavouring to provide the best possible service.
  • Using resources efficiently, to make a significant impact.
  • Giving clear instructions to others, and helping colleagues to understand how their work impacts the wider police service.
  • Breaking down potential barriers to optimal performance.
  • Providing advice and support to the public and to your colleagues.
  • Using resources in the most appropriate and efficient manner, to deliver a significant impact.
  • Motivating others, and inspiring them to achieve success and maintain high standards.
  • Constantly challenging others to maintain the vision of the police service, to the highest possible standards.
  • Making conscious efforts to demonstrate to their colleagues about how specific tasks and ideas link in with the wider vision of the police.
  • Helping others to understand their individual goals, comprehensibly, and how these goals fit in with the wider vision of the police.
  • Monitoring changes, both internally and externally, and taking steps to guarantee positive outcomes.
  • Thinking in a strategic and detailed fashion, demonstrating long-term planning and knowledge.

Analyse Critically

  • Understanding the importance of critical thinking, analysis and careful consideration before making decisions.
  • Assessing and analysing information in an efficient and accurate manner.
  • Solving problems by using logic and sound reasoning.
  • Balancing the advantages and disadvantages of actions, before taking them.
  • Recognising and pointing out flaws in data or information.
  • Taking information from a wide range of sources into consideration, before making decisions.
  • Understanding the long-term consequences of potential actions.
  • Recognising when the right time to take action is, and understanding how to limit the risks involved in said action.
  • Encouraging others to make decisions in line with the police code of ethics.
  • Balancing out the risks and benefits of all decisions, with consideration on the wider impact of said decisions.
  • Understanding when it’s appropriate to raise concerns or challenge decisions made by those in a senior position to them.
  • Using their knowledge of wider policing to inform their decisions.
  • Being willing to make difficult decisions, even if these decisions could result in significant change.

Innovative and Open Minded

  • Being open to new perspectives, ideas and perceptions.
  • Sharing ideas and suggestions with colleagues, with the aim of improving current police practice.
  • Reflecting on their own working practice and how it can be improved.
  • Adapting to changing circumstances and needs.
  • Using a number of different sources to gain information, using common sense, and not ‘just’ police criteria.
  • Identifying potential barriers or problems which could present an obstacle to the way in which they and their colleagues work in the future.
  • Taking a flexible approach to problems, being willing to adapt and change when necessary.
  • Encouraging others to think creatively, and taking risks it is correct to do so.
  • Implementing new ways of working, which can have a significant, positive change on future working practice.
  • Encouraging others to review their own performance through the lens of long-term policing.
  • Playing a central role in developing a positive learning culture, taking steps to promote innovation and creativity.
  • Taking part in creating new initiatives, with police partnership agencies.
  • Taking accountability for improvement and change within the police 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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