If you’re applying to become a police officer in the United Kingdom, then you’ll face a complex and difficult process. For many people, this process can be confusing, and it’s hard to know exactly which tests to prepare for, or even which competencies they should be studying. In this blog, we’ll give you a breakdown of the two different types of UK police assessment centre, and what exercises each involves.
The Two Different Assessment Centres
There are two different types of UK police assessment centre – the regular police assessment centre, and the new police assessment centre. If you are applying for the police, you will only need to take one of these assessment centres. The type of centre you take, will depend on the police constabulary that you are applying to. As of today’s date, the majority of police constabularies are still using the regular police assessment centre. However, the Metropolitan police and a number of other constabularies are trialing the new version. So, be sure to find out which assessment centre your constabulary is using, before you apply.
The Regular UK Police Assessment Centre
The regular UK police assessment centre is the most commonly used. Candidates attending this assessment centre are scored against their understanding and ability to demonstrate the following competencies:
- Public Service
- Openness To Change
- Service Delivery
- Decision Making
- Working With Others
Now, let’s look at the exact exercises that you will need to take during this assessment centre:
A Numerical Ability Test
The numerical ability test will establish your competency with numbers, and examine your ability to identify the relationship between numbers and data. There are 21 questions in total in this test, and you will have 23 minutes to pass. It is highly recommend that you practice as much as you can in advance of the numerical assessment.
To practice numerical test questions, check out our fantastic guide.
A Verbal Ability Test
The verbal ability test incorporates two different exercises. In the first exercise you will be given a passage, and then some multiple-choice questions following the passage. Your task is to answer each question with True, False, or Impossible To Say, based on what you’ve read in the passage. The second part of the test will again require you to read a passage, but now you’ll need to select just one answer from a choice of four, based on what you’ve read.
If you need to brush up on your verbal ability skills, then we have a fantastic resource for you.
Also known as ‘Incident Report Forms’, this is an exercise that will challenge your attention to detail, and your ability to write. There are two written exercises in total:
- In the first written exercise, you will be given several different sheets of paper, containing witness statements and viewpoints on a particular incident. Your job is to read through everything, write down the facts of the case, and then make a recommendation about what should be done.
- In the second written exercise, you will watch a 12 minute DVD, of an interview between a witness to an event and a member of staff. You will need to take down information whilst watching the footage, and then turn this information into an incident report form.
In our book on How To Become A Police Officer, we’ve included a range of sample exercises which will help you to ace the incident report forms. Check this out for more tips!
The penultimate stage of the UK police assessment centre, is the role play. In this exercise, you will be asked to assume a role, and then converse with a role-play actor, to resolve their (fictional) issue. You’ll be given a few minutes to prepare, and then asked to step into a room with the role play actor. Your task is to resolve their situation, taking a professional approach, and demonstrating the core competencies.
This exercise can be super challenging for lots of people. With this in mind, we’ve created an entire Police Role Play guide, packed full of tips and advice on how to pass. So, don’t hang around – pick up your copy today!
The final stage of the regular UK police assessment centre, is the interview. The interview will last for up to 20 minutes and will ask you four questions about how you have dealt with specific situations in the past. These questions will be related to the competency areas relevant to the role of a police officer, and therefore it’s essential that you brush up on your knowledge of how all of these competencies apply.
We’ve prepared a full police interview book, to help you through this tough stage. So, check out our tips, and get started on your preparation today.
The New UK Police Assessment Centre
As of 2018, some UK police constabularies are trialing a new form of police assessment centre. This includes using brand new competencies, as well as new exercises, to test their candidates. Whilst there is some crossover, you can expect the new police assessment centre to be very different to the regular one.
The core competencies being assessed in the new UK police assessment centre are as follows:
- Emotionally Aware
- Taking Ownership
- Working Collaboratively
- Deliver, Support, and Inspire
- Analyse Critically
- Innovative and Open Minded
On top of this, you will be also be assessed against the new police values. These are as follows:
- Public Service
In the past, the police have largely focused on the competencies of candidates rather than on their values as a person. While these values were still important, they played a secondary role. Now, the police are recognising that it’s extremely important to hire candidates with strong values and ethics, and the new selection process is a reflection of this.
A New Format
In line with a change in what they’re looking for, the new police assessment centre also takes a different approach to the way candidates are treated. While at the regular UK police assessment centre you will essentially be a number in a system, at the new assessment centre staff will provide you with a warmer welcome/reception, and shake your hand.
On top of this, when you arrive at the new assessment centre, you’ll be given an iPad to use. This iPad will be used during all of the assessment tests in some way, shape or form. While the police will provide you with a thorough brief on how to use this iPad at the start of the day, it’s worth trying to get hold of one before you attend, to familiarise yourself with how this technology works.
Now, let’s look at the exercises you’ll have to take at the new police assessment centre.
Role Play Exercises
Similarly to the regular assessment centre, you’ll need to take role play exercises as part of the new selection process. However, the role play exercises at the new assessment centre are fairly different to the regular one. Whilst the regular one requires you to play the role of a customer services officer at a shopping centre, at the new assessment centre role play, you will be asked to play the role of a police officer. There are two exercises in total, one of which will ask you to deal with two people having an argument, and the other which will require you to deal with a troubled (likely younger) individual.
Virtual Reality Exercise
The next exercise is completely new, and is called the Virtual Reality Exercise. In this test, you will need to work in a coordinated fashion with another candidate, to resolve a problem.
One person will wear a virtual reality headset, which will place them in a particular environment – such as a set of rooms. The other person will use their iPad, which contains a map/picture of how the room should look.
One person will play the role of control and the other person will play the role of ground. Together you will need to decide which of you will play which role. You won’t be marked on this conversation, but you will need to have the conversation in front of the assessors.
The two roles are as follows:
- Control’s job is to provide key information and navigational help to Ground. You will essentially need to guide Ground around the room/virtual reality environment, helping them to reach the finishing marker.
- Ground’s role is to verbally relay what they can see using the virtual reality headset, to Control.
In our guide on the NEW Police Officer Selection process, we’ve included some fantastic sample exercises, which will help to test out your skills in this respect.
Interactive Video Task
The next exercise is also brand new to the assessment centre, and contains two tasks in total.
The first task requires you to watch a video scenario, with 3 clips in it. You won’t be able to take notes whilst the video is on. Once the video is finished, you will need to answer questions based on what you saw in the video. For example: what colour socks was the victim wearing? Essentially, this task assesses your memory and your attention to detail.
The second task focuses around your understanding of the police values. You will be given three clips, the same as before, showing police officers dealing with an incident. You’ll then be asked questions such as:
- Do you think the police officer handled this in the correct way?
- What could the police officer have done differently in this situation?
Since you will be answering these questions using a tablet/iPad, the tablet will proceed to auto-score all of your answers based on the competencies/values.
The penultimate test, is the written exercise. This exercise is essentially a variation on an old police assessment centre test, where you would be writing a response in the role of the customer services officer of a shopping centre. You will have 30 minutes to complete the written exercise.
The exercise is quite different now. For a start, you will be conducting the entire exercise on your iPad. This means that you need to be absolutely on-point with all your grammar, spelling and punctuation, as there’s no spellchecking on an iPad.
To start the exercise, you’ll be asked to call on a button labelled ‘Stop and Search’. Once you click this, the exercise will begin. Immediately appearing on your screen will be a message from your police sergeant, informing you of a general policing matter. For example, the message might be telling you that they’ve increased foot patrols in a certain vicinity – to stamp out crimes – or that the police are increasing the number of people whom they are stopping and searching – again in a bid to stamp out crime. There will generally be a caveat following this. For example, the sergeant will tell you that someone has taken umbrage with the police’s new approach, and has written to him to complain. This person might be a shopping centre owner, a member of the local council, etc.
Along with the message from your sergeant, you’ll be given a number of a cards and a highlighter. The cards will contain extra information about the task. For example, they might contain the letter of complaint that has been sent to the sergeant, they might complain further feedback from various people, and they might contain data and crime statistics related to the matter.
Your task is to respond to the letter of complaint that the Sergeant has received, addressing all of the issues raised, either persuading the person of the benefits of the approach or offering alternative solutions.
Finally, you’ll sit an assessment centre interview. Just like the other exercises, the interview has undergone a significant revamp for 2018. The format is still largely the same: you’ll face 4 competency-based questions, lasting 5 minutes each. However, the interview will be much more relaxed now. You’ll be welcomed into the room with a handshake, and you will also get to look at the questions on your iPad. Just as before, the questions will focus largely on your past experiences and how you’ve demonstrated the core competencies.
Following each question, you’ll receive follow up questions. For example, ‘How do you think you benefitted that situation?’ and ‘What did you take away from your experience?’
The police interview will focus heavily on the core competencies. Each question will be focused around a specific competency, but in your response you should also endeavour to demonstrate as many of the other competencies as possible.