Are you interested in joining the British Transport Police? Well then, you’ve come to the right place. The selection process to join the BTP (British Transport Police) is extremely competitive, and there are as many as 65,000 applicants to the Police Service each and every single year. If this sounds like great news, think again. Less than 700 of these applicants will actually go on to join the BTP. This means that you will have to work extremely hard to become one of these successful applicants. Fortunately, How2Become is here to help! Armed with our insider’s information, you have already taken the first step to passing the British Transport Police selection process.

If you are an external candidate, then you will generally be applying to the BTP as a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO). As you progress in the career, and pass your probationary period, you will move up the ranks and become a fully recognised British Transport Police Officer.

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The British Transport Police are responsible for policing the railways of the United Kingdom. They ensure that the passengers of trains and customers of railway stations are kept safe at all times. Transport Police are also responsible for policing major events, such as football matches, rugby or public demonstrations. This is particularly important when events such as the Olympic Games are held, where there are large amounts of new or foreign passengers aboard British transport. Transport Police Officers work tirelessly to ensure that all rail passengers are receiving good value for their money, and to help anyone in need of assistance.

If you are an external candidate, then you will generally be applying to the BTP as a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO). As you progress in the career, and pass your probationary period, you will move up the ranks and become a fully recognised British Transport Police Officer.



Before you do decide to apply to the British Transport Police, you will need to make sure that you meet the eligibility criteria.


In order to work for the British Transport Police, you must have the right to work and live in the UK without restriction, on a permanent basis.


Every person who applies to the British Transport Police must have been a resident of the UK for the last 3 years prior to their application date.


You must be at least 18 years old minimum to apply, and 57 years old maximum.


You will not be eligible for the BTP if you have any previous convictions, cautions, reprimands or penalty fares (excluding driving penalties). Furthermore, security checks will be conducted on your family, to ensure that they are not involved in any criminal activity. While a family member’s criminal background does not mean that you are ineligible to apply, the seriousness of their offence and whether it will bring discredit to the service will be taken into consideration, and could damage your application.


The BTP’s attitude towards tattoos depends very much on the nature and location of the tattoo itself. Tattoos on the face, neck and hands are considered unacceptable. Other unacceptable criteria includes:

  • If the tattoo is deemed to undermine the dignity of the applicant;
  • If the tattoo risks causing offence to the public or other officers;
  • If the tattoo is too garish, or considered intimidating.

Applicants who are members of the BNP or other similar parties will be rejected.


All applicants to the BTP will need to be free from undischarged or unmanageable debt, and must be able to provide a safe and reliable financial history. If you have been registered as bankrupt in the past, then you will only be considered if you are applying 3 years minimum after the discharge of debt.


The British Transport Police is fairly strict on employee business ethics. There are a number of stipulations you will need to abide by, including:

  • You must not hold offices or employment in any other role;
  • No members of your family or partner can own a shop or anything similar in the area that you would be working in as an officer;
  • Neither you, your partner or any relative can own an establishment/ license which authorises the sale of liquor or betting.

While there are no specific educational requirements for working with the BTP, this very much depends on the service to which you are applying. Some areas may require you to hold as much as a degree to even have your application considered, while others will require considerably less. You should check with your local service before applying, to ensure you have the qualifications that they are looking for.

British Transport Police: Selection Process

Once you have confirmed that you meet all of the eligibility criteria, what is the next step? Read on, and we’ll show you!


The application form is the first stage of the selection process for joining the British Transport Police. You can download and fill in application forms via the British Transport Police website.

When completing your application form, I would recommend that you allow at least five evenings to complete the form, breaking it up into manageable sections. Many candidates will try and complete the form in one sitting, and as a result the quality of their submission will suffer. Many of the questions will require you to demonstrate that you have the knowledge, skills and experience as outlined by the personal specification of the job that you are applying for. Therefore, your answers should match these qualities as closely as possible. Your first step should be to study the personal specification of the role. The role of a Transport Police Officer is essentially made up of a number of core competencies. You’ll find these in your application pack, or on the BTP website. Always make sure that you have a copy of these next to you when you are completing the application form, as you will need to demonstrate as many of these core competencies as possible.


  • Public Service;
  • Adaptability;
  • Service Delivery;
  • Professionalism;
  • Decision Making;
  • Working with Others.

For a full overview of all of these competencies, make sure you purchase our fantastic guide!


How long have you been thinking about becoming a Transport Police Officer and what has attracted you to the role?

Sample Response

‘I have been considering a career as a Transport Police Officer ever since I started my current sales manager job approximately 7 years ago. I enjoy working in a customer focused environment and thrive on providing high levels of service to customers. I have always been aware that the role is demanding and highly challenging but the rewards of such a job far outweigh the difficulties. The opportunity to work as part of an efficient team and work towards providing the community with an effective service would be hugely satisfying’.


If your application form is successful, you will be invited to attend an assessment centre. Make sure that you read all of the information that is given to you, and take along the relevant documents. If you do not, then you won’t be able to take part in the day. Finally, you’ll need to prepare 100% beforehand, in order to ensure you are ready for the challenges ahead.

During the assessment centre, you will be tested in 3 separate areas:

  • A Numerical Reasoning test;
  • A Verbal Reasoning test;
  • An Observational Ability test.

Now, let’s look at each of these stages in a little bit more detail.


A Numerical Reasoning test is designed to assess mathematical knowledge through number-related assessments. These assessments will consist of different difficulty levels, and will all vary depending on who you are sitting the test for. Be sure to find out what type of Numerical Reasoning test you will be sitting, to ensure you make the most of your preparation time.

There are several different types of question you might encounter in your Numerical Reasoning Test, and this can include:

  • Basic Mental Arithmetic;
  • Critical Reasoning;
  • Critical Interpretation;
  • General Intelligence;
  • Estimations, Speed and Concentration;
  • Financial Reasoning;
  • Data Analysis.

  • Questions will often require you to identify what mathematical formulae is being used (division, percentage, ratio etc.). Before you answer the question, carefully read what the question is asking you! Be sure to understand what you need to work out, before attempting to answer the question.
  • Practise is key. The more you practice your mental arithmetic and other mathematical formulae; the easier it becomes. This is why we have provided you with lots of sample questions for you to work through. The more you practice these tests, the more likely you are to feel comfortable and confident with the questions. Remember, practice makes perfect!

The second of the competency related assessments will be the Verbal Reasoning test. Verbal Reasoning tests are used to determine a number of different aspects about a candidate. You will be tested on topics such as:

  • How well you process written information and details;
  • How well you understand grammar, spelling and punctuation;
  • Your ability to decipher true information from false information;
  • Your understanding of literary terminology;
  • The meanings of different words.

More specifically, the verbal reasoning assessment will incorporate the following question types:

  • Odd one out;
  • Word jumbles;
  • Completing the sentence;
  • Word families;
  • Synonyms;
  • Patterns;
  • Hidden words;
  • And more!

  • Practice as many different types of verbal reasoning questions as you can. Within this guide we have provided you with several different question types, in order to increase your understanding and enhance your performance. Please note, the question types within this guide are not exhaustive, they are merely a way to indicate the most common types of question found in the BTP Verbal Reasoning Test.
  • Practice a variety of difficulty levels. If you are undergoing practice questions and are finding them relatively easy, why not practice more difficult questions? This will allow you to boost your confidence and enhance your skills. If you practice a variety of difficulty levels, you will be ready to tackle any type of Verbal Reasoning question that you encounter in the assessment.

The last of the 3 tests that you’ll have to take is an observational test. The observational test will examine your ability to remember key details and information, with a limited timeframe in which to do it.

The format of the observational test is prone to changing, but you are most likely to be shown 1 or 2 short video clips, and will then be asked to answer questions on each one. The questions will test you on how much you remember about what you saw in the video clip, and will ask you things such as, ‘what colour was the woman’s dress?’ or ‘how many cars were there?’.

As an aspiring Transport Police Officer, you will need to be someone with a keen eye for detail, who can spot potential danger or trouble before it becomes a risk. You’ll also be expected to remember details, as this could later prove vital in a court or legal situation. Remember, the key to passing the observational test is to train your memory to remember particular details.

For detailed Observational Ability Test tips and questions, purchase our psychometric testing guide.


During the BTP assessment centre, you will normally be required to sit an interview. In some locations, you may be required to take an interview on another day, but generally you should expect to take the interview at the assessment centre. In some cases, you might also be asked to perform a presentation. If so, you will be provided details in your information pack, with which you will need to prepare thoroughly on the topic given to you.

The crucial element to your success is your preparation. The interviewers will have a number of set questions to choose from and, whilst these are constantly changing, they are specifically designed to assess the police officer core competencies. Before attending your interview, ensure that you read, digest and understand the Transport Police core competencies. Without these it will be very difficult to pass the interview. Below we have included a sample question, which is similar to the type that you should expect to see at the BTP Assessment Centre. Take a look at our response to this question, and then use a separate piece of paper to construct your own response.


Tell us why you want to become a Transport Police Officer.

Sample Response

I have worked in my current role now for a number of years. I have an excellent employer, and enjoy working for them, but unfortunately no longer find my job challenging.

I understand that the role of a Transport Police Officer is both demanding and rewarding, and I believe that I have the qualities to thrive in such an environment. I love working under pressure, working as part of a team that is diverse in nature and helping people in difficult situations.

Rail customer expectations of the Transport Police are very high and I believe that I have the right qualities to help deliver a great service to the public. I have studied the police core competencies and believe that I have the skills to match them and deliver what they require.”

IMPORTANT Things to consider

  • Don’t be negative about your current or previous employer;
  • Be positive, enthusiastic and upbeat in your response;
  • Make reference to the core competencies if possible.


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How to become a British Transport Police Officer

This comprehensive guide explains how to pass every element of the British Transport Police selection process, including: The initial application form, your CV and covering letter, the interviews, the interactive role play exercises and the assessment centre tests. Join the British Transport Police in 2020.

How To Become a British Transport Police Officer is the number 1, premium resource for anyone with ambitions to join the Transport Police. Jam packed with fantastic tips and advice, it has been written by Richard McMunn, an expert within the industry. It will show you how to ace the Transport Police assessment process, and secure a coveted position within the Service. Using our invaluable interview tips, sample questions and insider advice, this is the ULTIMATE book for aspiring Transport Police candidates.


CHAPTER 1: How To Pass The Transport Police Selection Process

CHAPTER 2: Insider Tips and Advice

CHAPTER 3: How to Complete the Application Form

CHAPTER 4: Assessment Centre

CHAPTER 5: Assessment Centre Interview


BONUS CHAPTER 6: Fitness and Vetting. This chapter contains premium advice on everything about the British Transport Police fitness test, the eligibility criteria and medical checks!

Key Features:

  • Hundreds of assessment questions and answers!
  • Incredible advice on how to complete the application form.
  • Amazing tips on how to apply the core competencies, at every single stage.
  • Insider interview tips and advice to help you pass the final interview.

Free Bonus Item


Free Online Interactive Police Practice Tests

Plus 30-days FREE ACCESS to the police online testing suite. Thereafter, just £5.95 per month. No minimum term. You may cancel anytime. Cancel before the 30-days are up and you will not be charged. Online suite access on PC, MAC and mobile devices.