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Police officer: job description

Police officer: job description

Police officers uphold law and order through the detection, prevention and investigation of crime.
After qualifying as a police officer, some choose to specialise in a specific branch such as the drug squad or the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

What does a police officer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Duties can include:

  • interviewing suspected criminals
  • taking statements
  • writing crime reports
  • dealing with paperwork
  • gathering prosecution evidence
  • giving evidence in court
  • fostering good relationships with the public
  • patrolling areas by foot and car
  • making and processing arrests
  • searching suspects
  • responding to emergencies
  • offering advice and reassurance to the public
  • controlling traffic/crowds
  • keeping the peace/mediating in tense situations

For many, the sense of reward derived from serving the community and preventing crime will outweigh the negatives.

Typical employers of police officers

  • Local authority-managed police forces
  • Specialist forces
  • The Ministry of Defence Police
  • British Transport Police

Most forces will advertise locally in the regional press so it is worth contacting the force you are interested in joining to see if they are recruiting or see the police recruitment portal online. Vacancies may also be advertised on specialist forces websites, in local and national newspapers and on TARGETjobs.

Qualifications and training required

All entrants must pass standard police initial recruitment tests (fitness, medical and educational). There are no height restrictions or upper age limits for applications.

A High Potential Development Scheme in England and Wales, and an Accelerated Promotion Scheme for Graduates in Scotland are operated to enable suitable candidates to quickly achieve senior police posts. Current police officers, non-graduates, graduates and final-year undergraduates can make applications for these. However, it is still necessary to be accepted as a standard entrant prior to applying for the schemes. The Metropolitan Police offers a graduate entry programme for those with at least a 2.2.

Visible tattoos, debt problems and certain criminal convictions may also prevent entry. Previous experience is not expected, although attendance at familiarisation events and involvement in local police work can be advantageous.

Key skills for police officers

  • Open-mindedness
  • Resilience
  • Assertiveness
  • Maturity
  • Able to handle responsibility
  • Able to remain calm in challenging or dangerous situations
  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Communication skills
  • Teamworking skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Negotiating skills
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