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How to become a police officer?

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Making society a better place to live is as much the government’s role as the citizen’s participation too. Security personnel are professionals that help to keep facilities and communities safe from vandalism, theft, violence, terrorism, etc. Becoming a police officer is a good way for citizens to help the government achieve the goal of keeping its citizens safe. In the UK, there are different ways by which citizens and non-citizens can become police officers and join this noble profession. In this article, you will read about this as well as the likely career projection you can have when you join the police force. Enjoy reading.

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Answer Adeosun
Feb 13, 23 · min read
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What do you need to become a police officer in the UK?

Here is a list of the general requirements for becoming a police officer in the UK. Note that you can be a police officer whether you are a citizen or non-citizen when you have all your ducks in a row.

  1. You must be at least 18 years of age by the time you complete your police training and are ready to begin serving. What that implies is that you do not have to be 18 before your recruitment into the police institute but you be that before you can graduate and be allowed to join the police force in an official capacity.
  2. You must be a UK citizen, an EU/EEC citizen, a citizen of one of the Commonwealth countries, or a non-citizen with stay restrictions.
  3. No criminal records. Some minor offences are pardonable in some forces.
  4. Be physically fit with no limiting eye defects.

Once you are sure that you are eligible by the above standards, you can proceed to the guide and choose a route to becoming a UK police officer.

Guide to become a police officer

There are 6 different routes to becoming a police officer in the UK which signifies that your background nonetheless, you have a high chance of getting into the force since you have all requirements in place.

Direct application

The Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP) is the direct entry route into the police force. The general requirement for this is 3 A levels, a relevant level 3 qualification, or certifiable military experience. All you need to do is apply, wait to be selected and then take the test, interview, physical fitness test, medical test, and security and background checks, in that order.

Note: this route is gradually being replaced by the university degree entry and apprenticeship route.

Join the police force through a university degree

  1. The Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP) – if you already have a university degree in any course and would like to become a police officer, you can apply for this and it only takes about 2 years to graduate. This route avails you of a level 6 postgraduate diploma in Professional Policing Practices. 
  2. Police Now programme – this is a recruitment that works like the DHEP program because it is for university degree holders.
  3. Professional Policing Degree – this route is for people who are going into an accredited university or the College of Policing to take a 3 years course in theoretical policing study. At the end of this course, you can then apply to a trainee program to get into the force.

Gain relevant qualifications to go the university route by taking a college diploma

Peradventure you do not have the required certification to pursue a university degree, there are equivalent college diplomas that could make you qualify. They are Level 3 National Diploma in Uniformed Protective Services, Certificate in Public Services, or Diploma in Policing. To qualify for any of these though, you must have a minimum of grade 9 to 4 in 5 GCSEs.

Take the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) route

If you already have a police force in mind where you would like to work, you can take the PCDA route. This is a 3 years course that avails you of a Professional Policing Practice certification which allows you to work in any police force of choice. When you choose to do a serious and complex crime investigative apprenticeship, you can get a job with any of the Ministry of Defence, HMRC, or NCA (National Crime Agency) in a non-emergency capacity. The requirement for entry is the same as taking a college diploma.

Join as a volunteer

You can work for the UK police forces through the volunteer programme to become a special constable. Otherwise, you can apply for a paid position as PSCO (Police Support Community Officer) before applying to become a full-fledged police officer.

Police cadet

This is for people between the ages of 13 and 18 who would like to serve as cadets in the police force. You can simply fill out an application through the website. 

Salary and career progression in the UK police force

An entry-level police officer in the UK can earn about £19,000 or more while an experienced officer can earn up to £40,000 or more, on average.

The progression of careers in the police force of the UK is as follows, in order

  • Police Constable / Detective Constable 
  • Sergeant 
  • Inspector
  • Chief Inspector
  • Superintendent 
  • Chief Superintendent
  • Assistant Chief Constable 
  • Deputy Chief Constable
  • Chief Constable 


Taking up a position as an entry-level police officer early can make you rise to the top-most position quickly. While this can be done by experience, your competence and achievements can also give you an edge. So, if you are interested in serving the community and earning money while doing it, now is the best time to start.

How to join the police force in the UK?

You can join the police force of England and Wales as well as Scotland by going through any of the following routes.
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1. Degree entry programme.

This applies to applicants who already hold a university degree in any course. This can be done through the College of Policing or any other accredited institution.

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