Service positions in which a candidate needs to protect, serve, and deal with sometimes physically difficult situations have requirements that need to be met for eligibility to train and gain employment. The UK Police Service is no different in that it has a minimum age requirement, medical/fitness requirement, and other criteria.
Age of Applicant
To become a Constable in the UK a candidate must be 18 years of age. There is no upper age limit; however, retirement age for Constables and Sergeants is typically 60. Additionally, new recruits are on a probationary period for 2 years before becoming normal officers. Constables are on a response team in which 24 hour days, 7 days a week is a shift pattern.
Anyone with any education can apply. To become a police officer it is about the medical, fitness, age, and ability a candidate has to pass the initial recruitment test, as well as all
physical and psychological tests.
Medical and Fitness Requirements
Any corrected vision is acceptable as long as the wearer always has contact lenses or glasses on for their vision issues. All candidates will need to supply an optician’s eye exam with regard to unaided and aided vision. Requirements state a candidate cannot have anything worse than 6/36 in either eye for unaided vision. Aided vision must be better than 6/6 for both eyes or 6/12 for one eye. Near vision is acceptable at 6/9 when aided and both eyes are open. Colour blindness is not accepted when severe as it is a health and safety issue.
For all other medical requirements it is imperative that a candidate be able to handle the work required. No specific height or weight requirements exist; however, a candidate must pass the physical portion of the test meaning running, shooting tests, and other physical endurance tests. Swimming is a requirement of candidates and most training will not include lessons in how to swim. A candidate may be rejected if they do not already know how to swim.
The fitness test has changed over the course of the last 5 years making it simple for most healthy, average individuals to pass. There will be a fitness test in which BMI, weight, height, blood pressure, hearing, heart, lungs, reflexes, muscles and joints, and a urine test are conducted.
The police regulations stipulate that no discrimination can happen based on disability or medical condition; however, the fitness tests will need to be passed by all candidates. Certain disabilities or illnesses may receive special permissions such as an officer joining for desk duty versus field duty. A psychological evaluation is also required to make certain a candidate is mentally capable of the position.
Convictions will not automatically be rejected; however, if the issue occurred in the last 5 years an application will be turned down. Individual circumstances are considered. The only thing that will get an application rejected is by not declaring any convictions or if a criminal investigation led to the prosecution of the candidate.
Issues within police service of the past require that financial history be assessed during the application process; however, circumstances are always considered.
Nationality and Residency
Anyone wishing to apply as a police officer candidate will need to be a British Citizen, Commonwealth Citizen, or EU national. Foreign nationals can apply as long as there is no stay restriction linked with the UK. Residency requirements may apply.
It is not imperative to have a licence when applying; however, a person must learn to drive and pass the test before an appointment can be made. Should a candidate have penalty points on their licence they need to be declared and certain road offences may affect candidacy. The simple rule is to not have any more than 6 points associated with a driver’s licence when the candidate applies.
Tattoos and Piercings
Tattoos cannot be seen in uniform and must be declared during the application process. No offensive tattoos are allowed. Piercings are not to be worn as well as other jewellery that could pose a health or safety threat to the candidate and police officer. It is important to note that some constabularies are more old-fashioned and restrictive than others in this regard.
The home address of offices must be approved by the Chief Constable on the force the candidate is a part of. It is a matter of police regulations, but has to date not presented any problem for candidates to pass the regulations.