Police Inspector Direct Entry Eligibility

Before you apply, there are some key facts that you need to know when it comes to Police Inspector Direct Entry eligibility. Firstly, the Police Inspector Direct Entry Programme is only open to the very best candidates, which is why applicants need to go through such an extensive application process. In addition to this, there are further restrictions on who can apply for the role, otherwise known as the eligibility criteria. Below we’ve provided a summary of what requirements you’ll need to meet, and some other important facts that you’ll need to know about the course.

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Age Limit

One of the most basic elements of the Direct Entry eligibility criteria is the upper age limit for applicants, which is 57. Also, you must be 18 or older to apply. Candidates for the Direct Entry programme can apply as many times as they want. However, should you fail the assessment centre twice, you will need to wait a total of 5 years before applying again.


Candidates from outside the EEA must have leave to remain in the UK for an indefinite period, without restrictions. The police require a three-year history when vetting, meaning that you will need to have been a resident of the UK for three years prior to application.


The police have a very strict policy on tattoos and piercings. Tattoos and piercings are not deemed acceptable by the police, if they:

-Are seen as undermining the dignity of the employee.
-Risk causing offence to members of the public, or police staff.
-Are particularly garish/prominent.
-Could be seen as discriminatory to any group of people.


When applying to join the police, your financial history will also be taken into account. You will not be accepted if you have an existing County Court judgement against your name, or if you have remaining debts that are a result of bankruptcy. Likewise, you will be rejected if you are the subject of an Individual Voluntary Agreement.
Candidates who have been previously registered as bankrupt, will only be considered if they have been discharged from their debt for a period of three years prior to application.


Eyesight also comes into the Direct Entry eligibility criteria. The requirements are as follows:

-You must be at a level of 6/12 or better in either eye, or 6/6 with both eyes together, when testing long distance vision.
-You must be at a level of 6/9 with both eyes together, when testing near vision.
-The police does not accept the use of colour correcting lenses. Nor do they accept radial keratotomy, arcuate keratotomy or corneal grafts.


Once you have been accepted onto the course, you will be on a period of probation for the duration of the programme. This means that you will need to prove to the assessors that you have what it takes to succeed in the role, or risk being removed from the programme. All candidates who successfully complete the programme are guaranteed an offer of employment.

Chosen constabulary

The application process allows candidates to apply for more than one force. On the application form, you will be asked to list your preferred ranking of the forces that are taking part in the programme/which of these you would like to work for. If you do receive a place on the programme, then this list will be used to determine which force you might work for.

Past convictions

As you would expect, the police are very strict on the criminal history of their candidates, it’s a key part of the Direct Entry eligibility criteria. Below we’ve included all of the information on how past criminal convictions could impact your application.

When considering criminal convictions, each case will be judged based on its own merits, and therefore it is up to the police to decide on whether the exact past conviction will prohibit you from joining. That being said, applications will not be accepted if a candidate (of any age) has previously been convicted or cautioned for:

-Offences that fall under the sexual offences act of 2003
-Sexual activity with a child
-Hostage-taking or torture
-Involvement in espionage or terrorism
-Any driving offences which have resulted in a death
-Firearms offences
-Domestic violence offences

Other offences

Similarly, you are highly unlikely to be accepted if you have been convicted or cautioned on charges of:

-Unlawful possession of firearms
-Gross indecency
-Abuse or neglect of children
-Public order offences
-Any offence which involved acting in a dishonest or corrupt manner, invoking loss to others involved.
-Possession with, or involvement in, class A drugs or class B drugs.
-Reckless or dangerous driving within the 10 years preceding application, including drink driving or driving under the influence of drugs.
-Convictions that are a result of driving without insurance, in the past 5 years. Likewise, failing to stop after an accident.

Your age at the time of offence, and other circumstances, will be taken into consideration for the following cases:

-Being drunk and disorderly.
-Minor drugs offences or substance abuse.
-Common assault.
-If you have outstanding charges or court summon requests.
-If you have been convicted of an offence by a military tribunal.
-If relatives or associates of the applicant are found to be have engaged in activity which could lead to embarrassment for the police, or risk discrediting the police as an organisation.

Substance misuse

As per standard police regulations, you will need to take a substance misuse test during the application process. Failure to take part in this, or failure of the misuse test, will result in you being removed from the process.

Shift work

You will need to be prepared to work shifts. Shift work is an essential part of policing, and there are times when you will need to work at nights and at weekends. You will be required to work approximately 40 hours per week.

Education/Past Employment

Having a degree may benefit you in the application process, although it is not an essential part of the Direct Entry eligibility criteria. There are no educational qualifications required in order to apply, and candidates will be judged based on how well they meet the police criteria, and not on their academic background. Existing police employees are welcome to apply, and will face the same tests as everyone else. That being said, existing employees are eligible to participate in a Fast Track programme, which accelerates the process.

Direct Entry Eligibility – a conclusion

So, in order to successfully apply to this prestigious programme, there are a fair amount of (not too unreasonable) stipulations! For more information on Police Officer selection processes, click on the link below.

How to become a Police Officer

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