National detective programme Applications now open


Check your eligibility

We are currently accepting applications for our National Graduate Leadership Programme, in partnership with the Metropolitan Police Service only. Please check the force-specific criteria for the Metropolitan Police Service for more detail.

If you are already a serving police officer, visit our Frontline Leadership Programme page for more information.

Detailed eligibility criteria

Our criteria for entry to the programme follow national standards for new police officers. Take a look at the details below to make sure you are eligible.

You must be over the age of 17 years at the time of your application.

You’ll need to have resided in the UK continuously for the past three years, at least. If you’ve been abroad during the last three while serving in the UK Armed Forces, working for the UK government, as part of your university degree or on an extended holiday your application will still be considered.

Different people bring different perspectives which help us develop better understanding and learning, leading to new ideas and solutions to the challenging social issues that we face on a daily basis.  You can be of any nationality to apply, providing you have the status of indefinite leave to remain and work in the UK, or settled status.

Academic qualifications
You must hold at least two UK level 3 qualifications in any subject or non-UK equivalent. Also have a 2.2 or above in any undergraduate degree from a UK university (or equivalent from a non-UK university) by the programme start date.

Previous policing experience
You cannot apply if you have previously attested and served as a police officer. However, you are eligible to apply if you are currently or have been a police cadet, special constable, PCSO or member of police staff for any force.

Financial position
Police officers are in a privileged position and could be considered potentially vulnerable to corruption. As a result, you must not be under pressure from undischarged debts or liabilities, and you should be able to manage loans and debts sensibly. Most applicants have debts, such as mortgages, undischarged student or other loans, and credit/store card debts. Debts that are within your means and manageable are not a barrier to appointment. However, you may be ineligible to apply if you have an existing County Court Judgement outstanding, have been registered as bankrupt within the last three years or are the subject of a current Individual Voluntary Arrangement.

Membership to political organisations
Police officers must be impartial and objective when performing their duties with the public. This does not prevent you from being a member of political parties in general. If you’re a member of or have previously been a member of a proscribed terrorist organisation or group, you won’t be eligible to apply.

Taking an active role in politics
The Home Office does not allow serving police officers to take an active role in politics. An active role in politics would include running as a candidate in an election but would not include basic membership of a non extreme political group or party as an example. You are not eligible for the programme if you plan to take an active role in politics whilst on the programme and serving as a police officer.

Business interests
You must declare any other employment or business interest you intend to maintain so that this can be reviewed to make sure there is no conflict of interest with the police. If you, your spouse or any relative living with you, holds or has a financial interest in any licence or permit relating to liquor licensing, refreshment houses or betting and gaming, or the regulations of places of entertainment, you may not be eligible for appointment.

Driving licence
You are required to have a full UK manual driving licence to join our programme.

Substance misuse
If you are currently using any illegal drugs this will rule you out of the recruitment process automatically. To be eligible you must agree to have a test for substance misuse, as well as having a DNA sample and fingerprints taken for the purpose of conducting a speculative search against the national database.

Eyesight requirements
Please review the eyesight standards document which indicates standards for distance vision, near vision, colour vision and eye surgery.

Health & fitness

You must be able to cope with the physical and mental demands of the role. This doesn’t mean extreme athleticism, but you will need to pass the Job-Related Fitness Test (JRFT). If you take regular exercise such as walking, swimming or jogging then you should have no problem with the fitness test. There are certain medical conditions and disorders that may have a detrimental effect on your ability to conduct the role effectively. If you are aware of having any medical conditions or disorders, please consult the medical and fitness guidance and the Home Office medical standards document, and note the likelihood of your condition becoming a barrier to your application.

Tattoos and piercings
Tattoos and piercings are not a total bar to appointment. However, some tattoos could potentially offend members of the public or colleagues, or could be considered lewd, garish or provocative depending on their size, nature and location, and these will not be accepted. You also need to be prepared to take out any facial piercings and/or any piercings located in a position that would cause a health and safety issue. Tattoos which would not be accepted may include:

Cautions, convictions, criminal associations and vetting

Honesty and integrity are of the utmost importance. Police officers are subject to the Standards of Professional Behaviour, which clearly set out what communities can expect from their officers.

  • You must declare all convictions for past offences, formal cautions (including as a juvenile) and any bind-over imposed by the courts.
  • You should also include all traffic convictions.
  • Due to the nature of policing, it’s essential that we conduct rigorous vetting checks on successful applicants before they can join the programme.
  • These checks will include personal details taken from you, from close family members and significant others.

If any of the above relates to you, review our vetting document for further advice regarding our vetting process, and listen to the audio below: 

Force specific eligibility criteria

Eligibility criteria may differ per individual force, so please check the following force specific pages for more detail.

Our programmes

We offer two national graduate programmes. Which one is right for you?

Find out what each programme offers and what the role of a neighbourhood police officer or police detective is like.

Help and useful links


Do you have questions about applying? From choosing a programme to checking your eligibility.


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Dorset Police

Police Now | Dorset Police
Scott Chilton - Dorset Police Chief Constable

Scott Chilton

Chief Constable

National Graduate Leadership Programme

Cohorts: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
No. of police officers enrolled: 6

National Detective Programme

Cohorts: —— —— —— —— 2019 2020
No. of police officers enrolled:

Visit the Dorset Police website