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Frequently asked questions about becoming a police officer

How fit do you need to be? I’m worried about the fitness test.

Don’t worry, you need to reach Level 5.4 on the bleep test which is achievable for most people. The College of Policing website details exactly what is involved and has asome helpful tips.


I’m in my 40s, am I too old to join?

Definitely not, we welcome applications from more experienced candidates.


I am leaving college without any work experience, can I become an officer?

Yes, you can apply when you’re 17 and attend the assessment centre and other processes but cannot join until you are 18. Some applicants prefer to gain work experience and others don’t.


I have a family, are the shifts flexible?

As an officer you will be expected to work shifts, however, you can apply for flexible working to help support your personal commitments once you’ve completed your initial training and tutorship.


I am 5ft tall – can I be a police officer?

Yes. There are no height requirements to join.


I have a medical condition, does this affect my suitability for the role?

Many of our applicants have medical conditions and they do not necessarily stop you from becoming a police officer. If you would like to discuss your condition and eligibility prior to applying, please email our recruitment team at 


What if I am a wheelchair user?

You can join but not currently in a police officer role. We are exploring ways in which we can accommodate wheelchair users in police officer roles.


I’m dyslexic, can I be a police officer?

Absolutely, we have many brilliant dyslexic officers. We will ensure as soon as you arrive you have the support and adjustments you require.


With your police constable degree apprenticeship (PCDA) – do I complete my degree first, then become an officer?

No, you are a police officer first and you complete your policing degree in your first three years whilst learning the role. You have protected learning time within your first three years to complete study, assignments etc, but some occasional study may be required in your own time.


What qualifications do I need for which routes and what if I don’t have them, can I not be a police officer?

More information can be found on other pages of our website. However, for the apprenticeship route you need GCSE English and maths, grade A-C/4-9) or Level 2 Functional Skills and 64 or more UCAS points, which are Level 3 qualifications (A-levels, BTECS, NVQs). If you don’t have Level 3 qualifications, we also accept career/work experience in certain roles. For the degree entry programme, you are required to hold a degree in any subject.


Will I get time to study for my degree in work time?

Yes, the force will give you protected learning time within your first three years to support you in completing your degree, however, occasional work in your own time may be required.


How much will it cost me and how long will it take to get a Level 2 qualification?

We recommend learndirect as a supplier to gain your Level 2. How quickly you can complete them will depend on your time. It is generally online/home study and the cost can vary so please go to the learndirect website.


Where would I be posted if I am successful?

We try to accommodate your wishes, however, we do have to meet operational need and you could be based anywhere in the county throughout your career.


What is the starting salary?

For the new routes into policing (PCDA and DHEP) you will also receive a salary of £24,780 upon joining, increasing to £25,902 after your first 12 months. Every year you will receive an annual increment and after seven years’ service you can expect to be earning £41,000 (plus shift allowances)


How long is it between applying and the first day in training?

Six to nine months.


With PCDA, what does the university side consist of?

20 per cent of the three-year programme is dedicated to study. You can find out more on the Anglia Ruskin University Website 


I have an automatic driving licence, can I join?

Yes, however, you will need a manual licence by the time you go on independent patrol.


Can I apply if I have had mental health issues?

We look at every candidate individually and mental health issues are not necessarily a barrier.


How do I become a detective?

You can join as a regular police officer through one of the new routes and then move into a detective role after your probation, or you could join through our Accelerated Detective Constable Programme 

Do convictions prevent me from applying?

Convictions do not preclude you from applying and every application is assessed individually, however, you must pass vetting.


Does it help if I’ve been in the armed forces?

If you don’t have A-levels and you’re applying for the PCDA then four years in the armed forces will be taken into account. More details on our new routes into policing pages


I have less than a C in maths and English

We do require at least these grades in these subjects. Help and support is available


Is vetting in-depth?

Yes, however, family associations and convictions don’t necessarily preclude you.


Are uniformed/public services qualifications useful?

These courses are a good introduction, but they must be at Level 3 to qualify for our degree apprenticeship, ensuring you also have the Level 2 in Maths & English.


When do you hear back after applying?

Within four weeks but we try to be quicker.


What if I have tattoos?

We would ask you to send in photos because they cannot be offensive and will be dealt with individually. We also restrict piercings whilst on duty for safety reasons.


Are there age limits?

You can apply at 17 but you cannot become a warranted police officer until you turn 18. There is no upper limit, however, you must be medically fit to undertake the role and pension kicks in at 60.


Does my immigration status matter?

You need to have the right to remain and work in the UK and have resided here for at least three years, unless this is overseas service with the armed forces.


If I fail the application process, when can I reapply?

You can reapply six months after failing any part of the application process.


Is eyesight important?

There is an eyesight test


Is debt an issue?

If you are struggling with debt, you may still be able to apply. You just need to supply us with evidence of your ability to manage your debts successfully. However, if you have any existing county court judgments or are an undischarged bankrupt or have been declared bankrupt within the past three years, then you are automatically ineligible.


Is there anything you recommend I do before applying?

Research the role and the force. A ride-along would also be beneficial. We have a Positive Action team which is involved in the attraction and engagement of applicants and provides support through each step of the process.

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