To become a police constable in England and Wales you must pass the College of Policing online assessment process. Throughout the selection process you will be assessed against the competencies and values of policing.

The written exercise (Stage 3a or Exercise 3) is the penultimate component of the police online assessment process, and unfortunately many candidates slip up during this phase. Therefore, it is vital that you are familiar with this exercise if you have serious plans of becoming a police officer and passing the online assessment centre.

How2Become have teamed up with our police recruitment experts to provide you with a collection of sample written exercises, complete with suggested answers, which you can use to prepare for the real thing! Use this testing resource to familiarise yourself with this style of assessment and aid your preparation to becoming a police officer.

Police Written Exercises Download
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What is the Police Online Assessment Process?

What is the Police Online Assessment Process

The College of Policing introduced the online assessment process in May 2020, which is used by all constabularies in the England and Wales for police constable applicants.

The police online assessment process includes four exercises which you MUST pass in order to become a police officer. These are as follows:

  1. A situational judgement test (SJT)
  2. A competency-based video interview
  3. A written exercise
  4. A briefing exercise

These exercises are designed to assess candidates against the competencies and values of policing. You will need to demonstrate specific competencies and values throughout each exercise to progress your application.


The police written exercise is the third part of the online assessment process. You are permitted 40 minutes (in total) to complete this test. You will be given four separate articles to read, each relating to the given scenario.

Using only the information provided, you must write your response to a series of questions as if you were a serving police constable. To pass this exercise you will need to refer to the competencies and values of policing in your answers. You are not permitted to use any external material or resources to help form your answers.

The Format of the Police Officer Written Exercise


Tip #1

You have 40 minutes in total to complete this assessment. Within this time you will need to read all four of the extracts and answer all of the questions.

Tip #2

When you read through the exercise and the questions you will notice that some of the information is irrelevant to the questions you are being asked. Always refer back to the questions and only include information which is relevant to the exercise.

Tip #3

The police written exercise is assessed on your ability to demonstrate one value and four competencies. These are as follows:

  • Values – Impartiality
  • Competencies – Analyse critically; Deliver, support, and inspire; Collaborative; Taking ownership.

Tip #4

Remember, you are being assessed on your ability to communicate effectively. Therefore, you must construct your responses in a logical and concise manner, being sure to directly answer the questions you have been asked.

Tip #5

When composing your responses make sure that you cite the competencies and values of policing.

Police Written Exercise Resource

Download a FREE Introductory guide to the Police Written Exercise below!

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Sample question

To: PC Jones
From: Sergeant Smith
Date: 04.12.2019

We have received a number of complaints from shop owners regarding people attempting to steal food items and harassing customers in and outside the shops. Shop owners are stating that they are losing trade because of this and are demanding action from the police. Can you please look into this issue and report back with your recommendations to reduce the crime on the high street and advise why we are seeing an increase in the offences and also advise on the below.

  1. What are the main issues raised and how are these issues impacting the community?
  2. Provide your recommendations on how we can resolve these issues.
  3. How will these recommendations have a positive impact on the community
  4. Are there any potential risks to the community?
  5. What can be done to provide reassurance for the community?

Many thanks,
Sergeant Smith

Attachment 1

Chart of reported crimes in the high street.

Written Exercise Example Question How2Become
Attachment 2

Eyewitness statements and complaint call from local resident.

Eyewitness statement 1

A local shop keeper has stated that he had seen a well-known shop lifter in the area known as ‘Tea-Leaf Trevor’ hanging around the high street, dressed smartly in his signature attire. However, he also stated that he had not witnessed him stealing anything. (Tea-Leaf Trevor was released from prison at the end of September after serving five years for stealing high priced items from electrical stores).

Eyewitness statement 2

The owner of the local mini-market chased a homeless man out of his shop after he caught him stealing a bag of apples and some protein bars. The shop keeper stated that he did not recognise the person but said that it looked like they had been sleeping rough and his clothes were very dirty.

Complaint call

A local resident Gary Edwards has called the station and expressed concerns regarding harassment from a number of homeless people in the high street. Mr Edwards stated, on the 7th November when he was out shopping, he was stopped and harassed by a number of people begging him for money. He said this had also happened the previous week.

Attachment 3

Map of High Street showing affected shops

Online Assessment Test Sample Question
Sample response

Suggested points for your answer:

1. What are the main issues raised and how are these affecting the community?

  • There are a number of thefts from shops and members of the community being harassed by people begging for money.
  • The shop keepers are concerned that the thefts are impacting their profits and will prevent customers shopping in their stores.
  • The community will start to avoid the high street if they continue to be harassed.
  • This will have a negative impact upon the town as the drop in sales could cause shops to close.

2. Provide your recommendations on how we can resolve these issues.

  • We need to be analytical in our approach to ascertain the cause.
  • But first, to prevent further occurrences, you should consider having extra patrols along the high street. This will achieve a number of things; provide reassurance to the community, gather information from the community, and provide advice. A physical presence will also deter offenders and present the opportunity to witness offences in progress and act accordingly.
  • You can see from the graph that there is a gradual rise between July and October, but then a sharp rise between October and November. So, the catalyst for the issue most likely occurred in October.
  • You could speak to ‘Tea-Leaf Trevor’, although from the witness statements, he does not fit the crime profile. Trevor is not known for stealing food, and dresses smartly in suits.
  • Looking at the map of the impacted high street stores, the shops most affected are food stores and the majority of incidents are in October/November.
  • The map of the high street highlights the number of vacant shops. One of them is a homeless shelter/ food hub which was closed from October and re-opened in Station Road.
  • It’s possible because of the closure, members of the homeless community are stealing food as they have lost their supply of food. They may be unaware of the reopened shelter/hub in Station Road. One of the shopkeepers stated that he had chased a homeless man out of his shop after catching him stealing food items and another person stated he was harassed by a homeless man on the high street.
  • You should speak to members of the homeless community to inform them of the reopened shelter in Station Road and provide details of the location. As it seems likely, from the information given, that a number of homeless people are responsible for the thefts and harassment. You need to make it clear that if anyone is caught stealing or harassing other members of the community further action will be taken.
  • Remember that the homeless people are still members of the community and you should offer your assistance as and when required. All members of the community need to be treated with equal respect and integrity.

To see our recommended responses to questions 3, 4 & 5 download our Police Written Exercise Questions & Answers Download.


Download Police Written Exercise Questions and Answers to sky-rocket your chances of passing the challenging College of Policing online assessment process.

What’s included in this resource?

  • The competencies and values assessed during the online assessment process;
  • Prepare yourself with sample questions that follow a similar format to the actual test;
  • 7 unique written exercise questions;
  • Top-scoring suggested responses to each of the questions;
  • Immediate access via your How2Become account.
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