How to Pass the Police Recruitment Tests
What does a Police Officer do?
ALL THAT GLITTERS...
When one of my friends decided he quite fancied joining the Army, he applied through one of the many Armed Forces career centres found jotted about the many towns and cities of the UK. He was taken into a room and shown videos of soldiers skiing on their day off or rock climbing in mountainous regions of Europe, all with tanned, and happy smiling faces.
The truth, as my friend soon found out while enduring basic training for the Army, was vastly different. I guess what I’m trying to point out is that you probably, like me, have no real idea as to what the role of a Police Officer actually is. I certainly went in blind.
As many people do, they watch television and after a series or two of The Bill, coupled with Inspector Morse and other such fantasies, they feel they know the job inside out. You’d be completely wrong!
Yes, we do patrol about in our vehicles, investigating crime and arresting criminals but that’s only 1% of the job. When I joined some years ago, to say it opened my eyes to the real world is an understatement. The job I do, and the one you are applying for, is like no other I know of. You will see and do many things that 99% of the population could only dream of. So that is why before we even touch on the subject of recruitment, we’d best look at the role in more detail.
WHAT’S IT REALLY ALL ABOUT?
Now I could babble on for pages about the position and explain in vast detail the day-to-day complexities of what is required. Boring! Instead I’ve included a job description for you. If you read its content, and can adapt what is required to the application process, giving relevant personal experiences, then you’re on the right track to success. The document is on this and the following two pages – I’ll explain a little about it later.
Read through the main duties and responsibilities and try to adapt the bullet points to your everyday life. Some obviously will not be relevant but others will.
Post title: Patrol Constable
Responsible to: Patrol Sergeant
Aim of job: To protect life and property, to maintain order, to prevent and detect crime and to prosecute offenders against the peace
MAIN DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Maintain records of daily incidents in pocket book where required for evidential purposes.
Write reports on incidents attended in accordance with policy or as instructed.
Compile initial information and basic files for Crown Prosecution files.
Submit crime reports, accident reports, sudden death reports, etc.
Prepare summons applications.
Complete and submit forms, as required.
Be responsible for improving your performance by participating in the Performance Appraisal process with your manager.
Dealing with people
Deal with the public in a variety of situations.
Liaise and consult with other departments within the Service, e.g. CID, Drug Squad, etc.
Liaise and consult with outside agencies such as Social Services, doctors, schools, etc.
Liaise with supervisors to set objectives and monitor performance.
Promote and comply with policies on equal opportunities and health and safety both in the delivery of services and treatment of others.
Patrol the beat on foot or by car to maintain law and order, prevent crime, etc.
Attend court to give evidence.
Attend scenes of incidents and investigate, such as road traffic collisions, scenes of crime, domestic or other disputes, suspicious circumstances, etc.
Investigate and detect crime.
Gather intelligence on local criminals, possible victims, etc. and liaise with other Officers to update them.
Execute warrants and serve summonses.
Take fingerprints/photographs, etc. as required.
Comply with the National Crime Recording Standard and minimum investigative requirements.
Ensure compliance with statutory requirements in relation to information management including the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Code of Practice on Management of Police Information 2005, as appropriate.
Maintain personal equipment.
So now you know it’s a little bit more complicated than television leads you to believe!
WHAT RECRUITERS ARE LOOKING FOR
When you apply to join the Police Service there is a strict marking standard in place. You have to demonstrate specific abilities and experiences within each stage to move you on to the next. Recruiters are not looking for ready-made Officers, but they are looking for potential. That potential will later be trained to comply with the job description given.
Take a good look at the job description again. Can you relate any experiences in your day-to-day life to the main duties and responsibilities? If you can, use the pages which follow to scribble down your ideas. These will help you complete the application stage later.
Let’s start with Administration.
As a Police Officer, I am sometimes overwhelmed with paperwork, most of which has deadlines or time limits attached. These cannot be overlooked or taken lightly as prosecutions sometimes succeed or fail on my replies to the Crown Prosecution Service. Therefore I am required either to write or type replies in a legible manner, with correct punctuation.
Now obviously we have all been to school and received an education of some sort, but as with me, when you leave and seek work, the need for a pen and the written language is sometimes not needed. As a landscape gardener, I did no writing at all and it is so easy to get out of the habit.
The Police Service expects a certain standard and your initial application form will be the first contact they have with you. Make an impression. (I will talk more about the application stage a little later on.).
As an Advertising Sales Representative for a local newspaper, I had sole responsibility for creating revenue through advertising. Within my day-to-day working life, I became adept at working with such applications as Microsoft Excel, Word and other IT-based products to monitor, track and seek new customers. My duties also included arranging meetings with interested companies who wished to advertise and recording in detail specifics of what they needed the advert to look like. A detailed written report was then submitted to the Editor by me for consideration.
DEALING WITH PEOPLE
The Police Service is just that: a service to the public. It relies on communication. As an Officer you will speak to a wide variety of people, from those who want to pass on thanks, to those not so welcoming and who are strictly anti-Police. It also promotes liaison between outside agencies, i.e. housing associations, Social Services, councils and so on.
Now imagine your own experiences with regard to this subject matter. Unless you live on a private island or on top of a mountain, you are bound to have come into contact with many different people. Use these experiences to your advantage.
As a landscape gardener, I was routinely given responsibility to manage and take control of the day-to-day running of the business. This allowed me to use initiative and to promote our work to both new customers and those I regularly visited, which in turn led to new contacts being formed via word-of-mouth advertising. I also formed close associations with new suppliers of material to improve existing relationships. This in turn led to a better service to our clients and the efficient running of the business.
Now I know that unless you are a serving PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) or Special Constable (volunteer) then there’s little on the list in the job description you have done. Don’t worry. The Police recruit members of the public, not ready-made Police Officers.
If, however, you have had some sort of experience in the roles mentioned above then this is the time to use it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with blowing your own trumpet.
Before my second application to the Police Service, I joined the Special Constabulary to gain experience as a volunteer Officer. Within my time, I took part in investigations into firearms offences, learning such techniques as how to send items for forensic analysis and writing witness statements to the required standard. During my tours of duty, I also arrested offenders for such matters as shoplifting and public order offences, following strict procedure while in the custody office that adhered to the Codes of Practice for Police Officers. I gained such skills as fingerprinting, the taking of photographs and DNA profiling.
So if you can read through the job description and apply your personal experiences to what the Service requires, then so far so good.