Becoming a police officer requires a uniquely serious commitment unlike any other vocation.
You play a key part in maintaining the safety of your community, on the streets, face to face with the public, or behind the scenes in specialist services.
Policing is never easy. There are major physical and psychological challenges and you need to develop resilience. But it can be incredibly rewarding, with no day ever the same.
Criminology-related studies here at City, University of London are interdisciplinary in nature at every level. Our programmes overlap fields including:
This helps to give you a rounded perspective and prepares you for careers in the police, prisons and related areas.
What can I expect from a career as a police officer?
As a police officer you work with communities to uphold law and order, protect the public, reduce fear of crime and improve quality of life for everyone.
Using a mix of technical equipment to protect individuals, you will identify suspects, gather evidence and ensure successful prosecutions against lawbreakers.
Your daily working environment can regularly change. You may be walking the streets, in a patrol car, at the station or attending court. There will be physical demands and potential dangers and you should be prepared to face psychologically challenging scenes.
Working as a police officer is pressurised and can be influenced by regional factors such as culture, the size of the force or the local terrain.
Your duties can include:
- Developing positive relationships with the public
- Patrolling areas by foot and car
- Interviewing suspects
- Taking statements
- Writing crime reports
- Gathering prosecution evidence and presenting it in court
- Making and processing arrests
- Searching suspects
- Offering advice and reassurance to the public
- Controlling traffic and crowds
- Keeping the peace and de-escalating tense situations.
Related courses at City
Whatever your level of interest in becoming a police officer, City's courses can help you take one step closer to a career as a police officer, develop specialisms that'll set you apart from the field or broaden your horizons with study in related subjects.
- BSc (Hons) Criminology
- BSc (Hons) Criminology and Psychology
- BSc (Hons) Criminology and Sociology
- LLM Criminal Litigation
- MSc Criminology and Criminal Justice
Working for the police force
You are likely to seek work with one of the 45 police forces currently in the UK. Although you may also consider specialist forces such as the British Transport Police, Ministry of Defence Police (MDP), or Civil Nuclear Constabulary.
There is also the competitive area of forensic police work. This is either undertaken in police laboratories or outsourced in England and Wales, with designated bodies in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
You might consider Police Now, a two-year graduate programme operating with several forces in England and Wales. It offers graduates with at least a 2.1 qualification a structured route to becoming a police officer.
Your reasons for choosing a career in the police force should be clear and easy to explain when applying for work. Demonstrating knowledge of the local force, its senior officers and key challenges will also support your application.
Requirements for becoming a police differ across police forces, so you should make contact with your target police force before applying.
What about policing work experience?
It will help your policing ambitions to have experience of working with individuals or groups in the community. This might include coaching sports or helping with local youth groups.
You might also gain useful experience by volunteering with groups like the Volunteer Police Cadets. The Metropolitan Police has its own specific site for London volunteers. You could equally volunteer as a police community support officer (PCSO) or a special constable.
Special constables, also known as Specials, are paid expenses to volunteer and after full training have the same powers as a police constable. As a special constable you would help manage public safety at major events or combat city-centre disorder.
What are my prospects as a police officer?
After you complete a two-year probationary period as a police constable, a variety of career opportunities are available.
The rank structure for officers is:
- police constable
- chief inspector
- chief superintendent
- assistant chief constable
- deputy chief constable
- chief constable.
Following the two-year probationary period, you are eligible to apply for work in specialist units including the criminal investigation department (CID), fraud squad, firearms, child protection or underwater search units.