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Police officer eligibility requirements

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Police officer eligibility requirements

Eligibility requirements for a police officer are fairly detailed, but we've provided a summary of some of the basic requirements.

Age requirements

Applications can be accepted at the age of 18. There's no upper age limit for applying to the police service, but bear in mind that the normal retirement age is 60 years and that new recruits are required to undertake a two-year probationary period.

Nationality requirements

You must be a British citizen for a minimum of three years, an EC/EEA national or a Commonwealth citizen or foreign national with no restrictions on your stay in the United Kingdom.

Foreign nationals and UK citizens who have lived abroad may have to wait some time for security and vetting clearance. All applicants have to be vetted to the same standard before appointment.

Criminal record

Applicants should be transparent and include any crime, caution, road traffic offence, speeding ticket etc. A number of crimes will mean a definite or likely rejection of your application, including anyone who has received a formal caution in the last five years, committed a violent crime or a public order offence.


Independent research conducted by Ipsos Mori on behalf of the Police Federation of England and Wales in 2016 found that members of the public are largely accepting of police officers and staff with visible tattoos. Visible tattoos are unacceptable if they could reasonably be interpreted as discriminatory or offensive and/or indicate attitudes or views inconsistent with the College of Policing’s Code of Ethics and the Standards of Professional Behaviour.

Careful consideration will be given by the organisation to any tattoo on the neck, face, hands or forearms in deciding if it is acceptable. This includes considering the size, nature and prominence of the tattoo. Keep this guidance in mind when deciding whether to have such a tattoo.

Tattoos are not acceptable if they:

  • undermine the dignity and authority of the office of police officer
  • are garish or numerous or particularly prominent, i.e. on the hands, neck, face or fingers
  • could cause offence to members of the public or colleagues and/or invite provocation
  • this would include tattoos that are rude, lewd, crude, racist, sexist, sectarian, homophobic, violent or intimidating
  • tattoos that display unacceptable attitudes towards women, minority groups or any other section of the community, or alignment with particular groups, which could give offence to members of the community, are unacceptable

Financial status

Applicants will have their financial status checked. These checks are carried out because police officers have access to privileged information, which may make them vulnerable to corruption.

Applicants with outstanding County Court judgements, who have been registered bankrupt with outstanding debts, will be rejected. If you have discharged bankruptcy debts you will need to provide a Certificate of Satisfaction with your application.


You must have a level 3 qualification (e.g. A level, AS level, National Diploma, National Certificate, Level 3 NVQ or City and Guilds, Access to Higher Education Diploma) - check with your examining body if you are unsure of the level of any qualification you hold and please be aware that we will need to see certificates later in the process.

Or a policing qualification

Or the equivalent in training or work experience

Physical fitness

To ensure you are fit enough for the role, you will undertake a fitness test. There are two elements to the test, dynamic strength and endurance fitness. You must pass both before you can be appointed.

We are looking for no more than the minimum standard needed to enable you to work effectively as a police officer. You will be given help to improve your fitness and if you prepare yourself properly, there is no reason for you to fail.


Police officers encounter difficult situations, trauma, physical confrontation and work long hours on shifts. They need to be resilient enough to cope with the demands and pressures of police work. Applicants must therefore be in good health mentally and physically to undertake police duties.

You will undergo a medical examination to ensure you meet the health standards required which includes a maximum BMI of 30. Take a look at the medical standards for more information about some of the conditions that can exclude you.


Applicants will have their eyesight tested at the medical assessment stage. You may be asked to go to an optician to have your eyes tested and the eyesight form filled in. Failure to pass this test will lead to rejection.

Previous applications

If you have applied unsuccessfully to any police force, you are eligible to re-apply immediately after leaving the last process. However, if you attended an Assessment Centre with the College of Policing, you will have to wait six months before you can re-apply.

Eligibility to transfer Assessment Centre scores is available provided that you have passed the required standards for us which is 50 per cent or greater. You will also need a competency-based question score of nine or greater.