UK Police Assessment Centre: What It Involves and How To Prepare

Pass the Police Selection Process

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
  • Professionalism
  • 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.

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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.

Written Exercises

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!

Role Play

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 Interview

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.

Graduate Aptitude Personality Tests

The New UK Police Assessment Centre

As of 2018, some UK police constabularies are trialling 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:

  • Impartiality
  • Integrity
  • Public Service
  • Transparency

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.

MET Police Recruitment UK Careers Seminar in London

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.

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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.

Passing the Australian Police Officer Tests

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.

Written Exercise

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.

The Interview

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 benefited 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.

Pass the Police Selection Process

31 thoughts on “UK Police Assessment Centre: What It Involves and How To Prepare

  1. Harry says:

    So I have my assessment for Surrey Police in 2 months, but instead of doing it at Coventry. I am completing it at London. The MET are frequently doing the new assessment days, which one should I revise for? Old/new or both…..

    • Jordan Cooke says:

      Hi Harry,

      You should receive a pack come through in the post, which should explain what assessment centre exercises you’ll be taking. When you get this, please let us know, as we’ll be able to advise further on which resources you should revise! If you have any questions in the meantime, please let us know!


      The How2Become Team

  2. Iuliana SUCIU says:

    Hi, same here.
    Should I prepare for the old or the new form of assessment centre? I am applying for the Met Police and the assessment centre is in London :
    – sit an interview
    – take some interactive exercises
    – complete two video-based exercises
    – undertake a written exercise
    – scenario-based virtual exercise with a partner

    Is the new, right? Thank you very much

    • Jordan Cooke says:

      Hi Luliana,

      If you’re applying for the Met Police then you’ll be taking the new assessment centre, not the old one =].


      The How2Become Team

    • Jordan Cooke says:

      Hi Bella,

      It would really depend on the role that you are applying for. The police competencies apply across the whole spectrum, yes, but it is likely that you would have to sit different tests for roles in admin or other similar positions.


      The How2Become Team

    • Jordan Cooke says:

      Hi Julie,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Our guide on the new selection process is not currently available via digital download. However, if you contact our main inbox at info@how2become then we should be able to supply you with a digital PDF!


      The How2Become Team

    • Ramzy says:

      I am applying for West Midlands Special Constable what new tests will i need to do & what will the exams cover for the assesmemt stage? What book will i require to prepare to pass 100%

      • Joshua Brown says:

        Hi Ramzy, thank you for your message. I’ve not heard anything specific for West Midlands Police regarding Special Constables, but it’s likely you’ll be taking this new online process too, or at least part of it (you may have already done a sifting test – an online questionnaire or SJT?). This is the product I recommend most as it covers both the old and new process: How to Become a Police Officer

    • Jordan Cooke says:

      Hi Valerica,

      Don’t worry, they should still get in touch with you. If they don’t post anything out to you, then keep checking your emails, as they’ll need to let you know the venue etc =].


      The How2Become Team

    • Jordan Cooke says:

      Hi Francis,

      To our knowledge, Merseyside Police still use the regular competencies, and not the new ones. However, if you contact them, they should be able to confirm this.


      The How2Become Team

    • Jordan Cooke says:

      Hi Dean,

      We strongly advise wearing a suit to the assessment centre! You need to dress the same way as you would when attending an interview, so this means being presentable and professional.


      The How2Become Team

    • Jordan Cooke says:

      Hi Vickie,

      Unfortunately we can’t say definitively which competencies Northamptonshire are using, as it’s slightly up the air at the moment as to which forces are trialling the new ones. Our advice is to contact them directly – they should be able to provide you with the information you need.


      The How2Become Team

    • Jordan Cooke says:

      Hi there,

      Due to the way that various constabularies are trialling the new assessment centre, it’s hard for us to definitively say whether or not you would be taking the old assessment. The best thing to do, in this case, would be to contact the constabulary directly to see if they can provide you with extra guidance on what your selection process involves.


      The How2Become Team

    • Jordan Cooke says:

      Hi Tayla,

      It’s likely that you would be sitting a different assessment centre for this role – as it’s a highly specialist position. The best thing to do would be to contact the force directly, to ascertain what the process is here.


      The How2Become Team

  3. Allan Sanders says:

    Hi. I’ve just applied yesterday for the Met using this IPLDP route. Today I received the invite email for the online behaviour test. I think I could have gone via the apprenticeship route because I have a level 6 diploma (in ophthalmic dispensing) which I think gives me enough UCAS points, however I chose the IPLDP because it says on the website it’s 2 years where as the apprenticeship is 3. Would you say I’ve made a bad move or misunderstood the difference between them? Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you ?

  4. LD says:

    Hi. I’ve just been put through to the Assessment Centre stage for some point in September. Does anybody know if they use the Regular or the New Assessment Centre? Many thanks in advance!

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