Police Inspector Core Competencies: Why They Matter

The police inspector core competencies are a crucial element of the selection process

Hello, and welcome back to another blog on the Sergeant and Inspector application process. In this blog, we’ll be focusing specifically on the Police Inspector application process. To be even more precise, we’ll be looking at the Police inspector core competencies.

The Direct Entry route

Before we delve into the police inspector core competencies, let’s take a look at what the Direct Entry route actually is:

The Direct Entry programme has been set up by the police, to allow candidates from outside of the force to apply for a position of Inspector or Sergeant, without having worked within the police. You apply for Direct Entry in the same way that you would for a job application – filling in a form online and then completing a number of steps, including a telephone interview and assessment centre. Here’s where it gets tricky though. Unlike regular assessment centres, the Direct Entry assessment centre takes place over a period of 2-3 days, meaning that you’ll be tested much more extensively than you would be for another job position. Likewise, passing the assessment centre doesn’t mean that you are immediately hired by the police. Once you’ve passed, you’ll take part in an extensive training course, designed to get you up to speed with the requirements of an Inspector.

As you might have guessed, only the most elite of candidates are allowed on the Direct Entry course. In order to gain a place, you’ll need to match the police inspector core competencies.

The police inspector core competencies will teach you how to behave on the job

The Police Inspector Core Competencies

Just like the normal police application process, the Direct Entry course makes full use of police inspector core competencies. If you aren’t familiar with this term, core competencies essentially refers to a set of key behavioural characteristics, which are used as a guideline for how employees should act in the workplace. This can differ between sectors. For example, if you were working in an art shop, one of your core competencies might be the ability to sell products to customers. Obviously, this is not going to be the case when working for the police, who will use different core competencies.

Core competencies are not just important for when you are working on the job, but are also important during the application process. At every single stage, the assessors will be judging you based on how well you meet the core competencies. Every answer will be carefully analysed, to judge whether you have demonstrated a knowledge and awareness of the competencies. The police inspector core competencies ensure that inspectors working within the police force has clear standards to follow, and understands what is expected of them.

Now, let’s look at the core competencies required for a police inspector.

Emotional Awareness

Emotional awareness is all about having the ability to understand others, and yourself. As an inspector, you will need to be someone who can engage with and listen to others, making a concentrated effort to understand their needs and perspectives.

It’s also important that inspectors can manage their emotions in difficult situations, and understand why you are making certain decisions. By acting in an emotionally sensitive way, you can ensure that you are meeting the cultural demands of different groups of people, and dealing with them in the right manner. Having empathy is integral to police work.

Emotional awareness is important, as it has a big impact on the way that the public perceive the police. Not only will emotional awareness help you when dealing directly with the public, but it will also have an impact on your relationship with your colleagues. The better you can work as part of the team, the better service you can provide for the general public.

A person with good emotional awareness will:

  • Treat every person whom they meet with tolerance and respect.
  • Remain calm in tense situations, especially when provoked.
  • Understand which situations are likely to trigger an irrational or emotional response, from themselves and others.
  • Make sustained efforts to understand the thoughts and feelings of others.
  • Be able to empathise.
  • Promote the values of respect and diversity
  • Take responsibility for the emotional wellbeing of others.

Takes Ownership

Taking ownership and responsibility is a very important quality for police inspectors to have. It’s essential that you can hold yourself accountable for mistakes that are made, without letting this hold you back from taking necessary risks. As an inspector, you are a decision maker. Crime and crime solving is an unpredictable field, where things could change in an instant. Thus, not all of your decisions will work out, but you must be prepared to back the decisions that you have made, with clear rationale. When mistakes are made, it’s important to learn from the experience, accept feedback and reflect, to improve future practice.

Taking ownership also means having the confidence to make tough decisions, which won’t necessarily be within your comfort zone. It’s about taking responsibility, and generating confidence in your decision-making abilities, from both others and yourself.

A person who takes ownership will:

  • Identify and respond proactively to problems.
  • Ensure that their decisions are based on the fundamental principle of public service.
  • Take feedback into account, to improve the quality of their work.
  • Take responsibility for their actions.
  • Encourage others to also take responsibility for their own decisions and behaviour.
  • Hold themselves accountable for the behaviour of their team.
  • Behave in a way befitting a role model within the police force.
  • Help others to improve their performance, via constructive feedback.
  • Take responsibility for initiating improvements across the entire police force.

Works Collaboratively

Working collaboratively is extremely important within the police. In order to ensure the safety of the public, it’s vital that the police can work as an efficient and organised unit. As such, police inspectors and employees must be able to look past personal disagreements and feelings, and work together to produce the best possible outcome for the public.

As an inspector, it’s important that you can work with your colleagues, to build long-lasting and amicable relationships. This extends to building relationships with external operators and other public sector organisations, all of whom could be extremely useful. By working with these organisations, inspectors can ensure that they are sharing and receiving knowledge and essential insights, thereby increasing the capacity of all parties to serve the general public.

It’s a known fact that the demands on the police service are increasing every single year, and becoming more diverse in nature. This means that the police need to think ambitiously about how they solve problems, and identify solutions which don’t just help a minority, but work for all concerned parties. By ensuring that everyone is provided with the same level of safeguarding and protection, the police can guarantee the trust and respect of the public.

A person who works collaboratively can:

  • Work in a cooperative manner, to get tasks completed with the help of colleagues.
  • Project an approachable persona, thereby encouraging the confidence of colleagues.
  • Listen to the views and opinions of others, and make a concerted attempt to understand their perspective.
  • Treat others in a respectful and fair manner, taking their viewpoints into consideration.
  • Work without making assumptions about different people, based on previous experience. Treats every person as a unique circumstance/case.
  • Develop a sustained political understanding, and the impact that various laws and decisions have on both the public, and alternative sectors to the police.
  • Contribute to an environment where teamworking and collaboration are consistently seen as the best solutions to problems.

Deliver, Support and Inspire

As an inspector, it’s essential that you understand the core vision and values of the police force, and are able to use these during your day-to-day operations. Let’s have a look at all three terms, and what they mean:

Deliver – Delivery means providing what is promised to the public. In this case: safeguarding and protection. The better you can meet all of the competencies, the better service you can provide.
Support – Supporting applies to both the public, and your colleagues. As an inspector, you won’t just need to provide guidance and assurance to the general public, but also to your own staff.
Inspire – Police employees are role models, and this is especially true for higher ranking police employees – such as inspectors. Not only are police expected to set an example for the public, by behaving in a law-abiding manner, but for their own colleagues too. As an inspector, you will be expected to motivate your staff to perform to the highest possible standards.

A person who can deliver, support and inspire, will:

  • Have a good understanding of how their role fits into the wider spectrum of police work.
  • Take a conscientious approach to their work, making a concerted endeavour to overcome obstacles which could prevent delivery of the best possible service.
  • Stay up to date with relevant changes and procedural guidelines.
  • Act as a role model for police staff, and for the public.
  • Motivate and inspire other police employees to achieve exemplary standards of work and behaviour.
  • Utilise strategic and logical thinking, to ensure that the police force can provide the best possible service to the wider public.

Critical Analysis

Critical analysis is extremely important for police inspectors. As an inspector, you will be required to analyse a wide number of fields, including: data, evidence, reports and statements, in your quest to make the UK a safer place to live. In doing so, you will need to draw from the experience that you have picked up in the police, and any evidence available, to try and glean a concise overview of the facts. As always, an evidence based approach is the best one to take.

Police inspectors will use critical analysis on a daily basis, as a way of dealing with the issues that land on their desk. Many of these issues will be far too complex to be resolved without the use of in-depth critical analysis. As you can see, working as an inspector will require you to be a logical, reliable and responsible decision maker.

A person who can critically analyse, will:

  • Identify when and where issues need to be critically analysed.
  • Assess information in an efficient and logical manner.
  • Solve problems using logic and reasoning.
  • Make decisions which are in line with the police values and ethics.
  • Understand how to balance action with reasoning.
  • Be willing to explore alternative and creative problem solving methods.
  • Recognise that certain decisions could constitute or cause significant change within the workplace, and that you may need to justify these decisions to higher ranking employees than yourself.

Innovative and Open-Minded

In order to work as an inspector, it’s imperative that you can take an innovative and open-minded approach. Inspectors should always be looking to improve, and this means that you must constantly be on the lookout for new methods and improvements on your current working practice. When working for the police, it’s important that you can take a flexible and adaptable approach. The police force are constantly changing their methods, in order to keep up with crime, meaning that an open-mind will go a long way to helping you in this position.

A person who is innovative and open-minded will:

  • Welcome new ideas, ways of working and creative solutions.
  • Share suggestions and feedback with colleagues
  • Take a flexible approach to problems.
  • Learn from their experiences, and enter each situation without judgement or preconception.
  • Take the lead in implementing new and creative working practices, which could have a radical and positive impact on the way the police force functions.
  • Encourage others to think flexibility, and discuss their ideas.
  • Do their utmost to ensure that the police is as up-to-date as possible, so that they can provide the best possible service to the public.

Along with these competencies, inspectors are also expected to follow certain values:


It’s extremely important for police employees to act with integrity at all times, and this of course extends to inspectors. As an inspector, you will be high ranking within the police force, and therefore will be expected to set a good example for other employees. You are a role model, and therefore you must embody the values and expectations of the police force, down to a tee. Remember that the police have a duty of care to the public, and part of maintaining this involves building up a good level of trust with the public, and a good reputation for the police in general.

With this in mind, integrity is extremely important. If you don’t act with integrity, then you can’t expect the public to respect or trust in you. Integrity means taking an honest, unbiased and professional approach to every single situation that you encounter, supporting and delivering upon the expectations that the public have of the police, and working in a collaborative manner with both the public and other members of the police force.

Along with this, you need to remember that although being a police inspector puts you in a position of authority – it’s important to ensure that you are respectful and mindful of the influence of your position. Don’t take advantage of your position, and treat other members of staff with respect and fairness, whilst remaining open to criticism and advice from your fellow police employees.

Public Service

The next competency is public service. Public service is extremely important for the police, as it essentially forms the basis for everything that they do. As a member of the police force, it is your job to protect the public. Whether you are patrolling the streets or working back at police HQ, you need to be someone who believes 100% in doing what is right for the public. This means developing on skills such as customer service, communication and problem solving, in order to ensure that you can offer the best possible level of service to the public. You need to understand the expectations and needs of different communities, and take steps to address these, on an organisational basis. Your responsibility won’t just be dealing with the public, but ensuring that other employees adhere to public expectations.

You’ll need to build confidence in the police, by talking with people in local communities to explore their viewpoints, and breaking down barriers between them and the police. You must be able to understand the impact and benefits of policing for different communities, and identify the best way to deliver services to them. Remember that there will always be barriers to overcome when solving crime, and it is your job as an inspector to find the best solutions to these.


Transparency roughly translates as honesty. As a police inspector, you have a duty to behave in a way that reflects the ethical standards of the police service, and this means acting with honesty and integrity at all times. You must be able to behave in an ethical and honest manner, and challenge any unprofessional conduct or discriminatory behaviour. Along with this, you must be able to remain calm and professional whilst under pressure, and be prepared to step forward and take control when required.

As a police inspector, you are a leader within the force, and this means that those below you and above you must be able to look to you for guidance and reassurance. By maintaining an honest, fair and professional approach, you can ensure that your colleagues, and the public, will trust in you. Transparency links closely with communication. You need to be open and comprehensive when communicating with other individuals, along with being able to maintain confidentiality when necessary.


Impartiality is really important for a police inspector, or anyone working within the force for that matter. As an employee of the police, you have a duty to treat every single person that you meet in an unbiased and fair manner. You must act without discrimination and prejudice, and only judge people based on the situation, and not on any preconceived values that you might have. Remember that police employees are there to serve all members of the public, regardless of their gender, race or background. You must not allow your personal views to jeopardise police operations.

By treating every single person that you meet in a polite and respectful way, you can ensure that the public trust the police, thereby improving the force’s reputation; and making crime solving easier as a whole. Every decision that you make as a police inspector must be based on clear rationale and reasoning, with evidence to back it up.

As we have explained, the police inspector core competencies and behaviours will be absolutely essential during the application process. At every stage, you will need to try your utmost to demonstrate them as much as possible. The better you can demonstrate the police inspector core competencies, the better you will score, and the higher your chances of getting the job.

In this blog, we'll teach you the police inspector core competencies

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