How to join the police with Police Now

We know some graduate recruitment processes can seem daunting at the start, but we’ve worked hard to streamline our process as much as possible while keeping the standards you would expect for roles in policing.


To join the police through our national graduate programmes, our recruitment processes have been specifically designed to get the best from all applicants so be yourself and enjoy getting even more insight into the role you are interested in.

We would always encourage you to apply as soon as you feel ready to. In the past, applications have closed early due to high volumes of graduates applying to join the police so we wouldn’t want you to miss out, but the key thing is that you are feeling ready and prepared.

Register your interest

Applications are currently closed, register to be the first to hear when we are accepting applications.

Police Now’s eligibility criteria


To join Police Now’s National Detective Programme, you must meet our eligibility criteria.


You don’t need any previous policing knowledge or experience, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve never previously considered a career in policing but you must have a degree before January 2021. We’re looking for people with the potential to become the next generation of police officers, representing the diversity of the communities you serve.

To be eligible for the Police Now National Detective Programme, you must:

Degree:  Already have a degree and have achieved a 1st, 2:1 or 2:2 at undergraduate degree level or non-UK equivalent.

Age: Be over the age of 18 upon application.

Residency: Have lived in the UK for the last three years with no more than nine months abroad cumulatively within that time.

Right to work: Have indefinite leave to remain and work in the UK.

Academic: Hold a UK Level 3 Qualification in any subject (e.g. an A Level or BTEC National Diploma), or if not, an English Language overseas equivalent.

Transfers: Not be looking to transfer between police forces or return to policing.

Applications: Not have already been assessed for our 2020 National Graduate Leadership Programme and have graduated before January 2021.


Our competencies


We take ownership

You will be a credible authority, instilling confidence and trust in others through the quality of your knowledge, skills, presence and professionalism. You will show substantial resilience, working well under pressure in the face of change, with a determined and positive attitude to overcoming obstacles. You need to be able to bounce back quickly from difficult situations and setbacks. These may come from the public and the incidents you deal with but also internally e.g. resistance to change. You need to be persistent and stay focused on the outcomes you need to achieve. Going into the force as a detective you enter as a member of staff who will be relied on to make decisions and provide guidance. However, this needs to be balanced with humility and a willing to learn and act on feedback.


We are emotionally aware

You will be an empathic connector. You will be able to develop meaningful relationships with an extensive variety of people, allowing you to communicate and persuade effectively. You must be able to demonstrate a genuine interest in, and respect for other people’s opinions. Self-awareness and high levels of emotional control are also required to handle emotionally charged situations. Detectives work on extremely emotive cases, including crimes involving child abuse, human trafficking and serious assault.


We are collaborative

You will be a clear communicator, with an exemplary clear and effective style of communication, both verbal and written. This highly attentive attention to detail in communication is critical to several elements of the role including gathering statements, writing crime reports and preparing handover information. You need to be able to present the outputs of your analysis in a clear, thorough and often persuasive way to a wide range of collaborators and stakeholders. You will have to work with different partners and agencies to solve problems, including social services and local authorities.

We seek feedback, learn from our mistakes and reflect to improve and amend our future practices.


We deliver, support and inspire

You will be organised, manage your time highly effectively and deliver in all situations. You will be making a sustainable impact, leaving things better than you found them. You will be able to prove your ability to deliver results, often outside your comfort zone – you push yourself hard, using your initiative to get positive results. You have to assess risks quickly and effectively, using your judgement and be willing to take and own a decision based on this assessment. Things will happen on shift that can mean you suddenly have to respond and go out to crime scene which could then take up the rest of your shift or week. The workload is demanding and you will have to manage many conflicting priorities.


We analyse critically

You will have an investigative mindset. You will notice what others don’t. You will have a methodical approach to solving multiple complex problems, considering all eventualities and risks. You must be curious, objective and willing to delve into data, pull out important points from across different information sources and weigh up options to solve crimes. You also need to think laterally as to how to overcome problems. Detectives need to take and own decisions independently without needing the input of others.


We are innovative and open-minded

You will be innovative and open-minded. You must be open to learning and feedback, always striving to improve and develop. You need to be thorough and accurate in your investigations, be able to spot errors or pick up on small details that might be useful. You must have a willingness to understand and learn about cultural differences and how to utilise this knowledge within your work. With the ever-changing nature of crime, you will be at the forefront of creating and implementing innovative ways to tackle it; utilising new technology, methodology and research.

Our values


We are transparent in our actions, decisions and communications with both the people we work with and those we serve.



We must show impartiality throughout all our dealings with colleagues, partners and members of the public.


We understand and reinforce expectations of professional behaviour and openly recognise good and bad performance.


Public Service

We have a responsibility to ensure that we act in the best interests of society.

Application process


Both our national graduate programmes have a four step recruitment process.

1. Application

In the application form, you’ll be asked for details allowing us to check your eligibility. This will include: personal information (name/DOB/address), education history, employment history, tattoos, convictions, business interests, financial position, diversity & monitoring and data protection. We don’t ask about your motivation to join Police Now at this stage.

We expect the application form to take no longer than 30 minutes to complete on average. Following a successful screening review, you’ll be invited to complete an online assessment within five days after your application form submission.


2. Online Assessment

First, you’ll complete a personality questionnaire. This is designed to gain an understanding of your behavioural preferences, how you approach tasks and interact with others. The second part is a week-in-the-life immersive assessment, where you’ll experience several realistic scenarios you would encounter in the day-to-day job as a detective or neighbourhood police officer.

We will look to see how you react in different situations, how you reflect on how you dealt with them and how you articulate yourself in written format.


Read our hints and tips for completing the online assessment


3. Assessment Centre

Following a successful online assessment, you will have the opportunity to be considered for an invitation to book a date and time slot at our assessment centre. Each assessment centre will now be held digitally, hosted via the online video conferencing software, Zoom. This stage is an opportunity for us to find out more about you and for you to find out more about the programme you have applied for. So, it’s important that you understand why you applied for a place on the programme and that you are yourself throughout the exercises.

You will go through three or four exercises: a strengths-based interview, a role play and self-reflection, a scenario-based task (Virtual Case Centre) and a written exercise (National Detective Programme assessments only). The tasks will contain the same content as face-to-face assessment centres, and you will be scored against the same framework and criteria. Travel expenses are reimbursed and light refreshments are available during your time with us.You will also be offered preparation support ahead of the assessment centre, which you will be sent details on when you progress through to this stage. The dress code is business wear.


Read our hints and tips for the Assessment Centre


4. Onboarding

Following a successful assessment centre you will be offered a position by your Recruitment Officer. They will support you through your pre-employment checks.

You will be given a login to your onboarding website so you can access useful information you’ll need before joining as well as giving you the chance to chat to others joining the programme. During this time, we’ll also support you while you complete online vetting, biometric and fitness tests, a medical and we will review your previous employment references.

There will also be some online learning to complete before you start the programme. Finally, you’ll attend both force and Police Now induction events which provide a great opportunity to build your network with your fellow future participants.


How you can join a Police Now programme


National Detective Programme


Do you notice? Are you inquisitive? A problem solver? Becoming a detective offers a unique chance to have an immediate and positive impact on the most vulnerable people in society.


More about this programme

National Graduate Leadership Programme


Do you want to make a difference? Become a neighbourhood police officer and work to transform communities, protect the vulnerable, and increase the public’s confidence in policing.


More about this programme


Join the police through our

national graduate programmes


Over the last five years we’ve partnered with over 30 police forces across England and Wales to provide career opportunities nationwide.

Applications are now closed for our national graduate programmes, register your interest to be the first to hear when we are accepting applications.




Why our participants joined the police


Participants on Police Now national graduate programmes come from diverse backgrounds with various degree qualifications and work experience. We’re proud that 80% of these participants remain in policing after they complete their two-year programme, with many pursuing promotion opportunities or roles with specialist units.

Read about their journeys and the impact they’ve made since becoming police officers in the community.



Register your interest


Applications for our national graduate programmes are now closed, register your interest to be the first to hear when we are accepting applications.



Information centres

Have you got any questions? Find the answers here.




For more information about Police Now, our national graduate programmes or the application process, read our FAQs.




For any press enquiries or questions about Police Now or our national graduate programmes, contact our general enquiries team.




If you’re looking to apply or have already applied and have any queries, please get in touch with our recruitment team.


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