- Application deadline: Recruitment for new PCs, PCSOs and police staff takes place at special events at various times throughout the year. Refer to the Metropolitan Police website for exact dates of recruitment fares..
- Starting salaries: Police Constables earn £21,534 per year on commencing of service, which rises to £24,039 on completion of initial training period. PCSOs earn approximately £21-24,000 per annum
- Regions: Greater London, excluding the City of London
- Industries: Public service
- Website: www.met.police.uk
- Email: No recruitment related email. See the website.
- Telephone: 0845 727 2212
- Address: New Scotland Yard, Broadway, London, SW1H OBG
What is the Metropolitan Police Service?
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is the police force that has responsibility for policing all of Greater London, excluding the City of London and the London Underground. It is the largest force within the United Kingdom and has to deal with the biggest threats and risks to the country.
What roles are available within the Metropolitan Police Service?
There is a wide range of roles available for those wishing to join the MPS.
Primarily, the MPS is made up of police officers, of which there are over thirty thousand. The role of a police officer in the MPS is wide and encompasses a huge number of different tasks and responsibilities. The majority of police officers are attested police constables (PCs). They are responsible for the day to day general policing of the capital. PCs are generally either posted on foot patrol within their borough, so as to provide a visible deterrent and police presence, or patrol in police cars, meaning they are able to respond quickly to incidents to which they are called. They are not routinely armed and the majority are not trained to use a firearm, but all carry an extendable baton, CS spray and handcuffs. PCs are the frontline face of policing within the capital.
Also available in the MPS is the role of Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), who come to over two thousand in number. A PCSO is NOT an attested police officer but a uniformed civilian who works alongside regular police officers; they do not have the power of arrest. PCSOs have a wide range of general powers, however, such as issuing monetary penalties for various offences, seizing alcohol and drugs and detaining people without the use of force for up to thirty minutes. PCSOs do not carry any form of Personal Protection Equipment or handcuffs but do wear a stab vest and carry a radio. PCSOs act as the eyes and the ears of the MPS, providing a visible presence in the community and helping to tackle anti social behaviour. They are not replacements for fully attested police officers.
Finally, there are over 14,000 civilian staff that work for the Metropolitan Police. They are the backbone of the Service, and do roles ranging from working on the front desk of a police station to answering calls to 999 to working on maintenance within buildings owned by the MPS. Working as a civilian for the MPS provides plenty of opportunities and potential for career development.
Application process for the Metropolitan Police Service
Applying to become a Police Constable in the MPS is a long process, which can take approximately a year to eighteen months to complete. Only around 10% of applications are successful.
When the MPS is recruiting, those interested are encouraged to attend recruitment events which are held across London at various times of the year. There, they may receive an application pack which contains an application form to fill in and some competency questions which must be answered. Once they receive these from an applicant, the MPS checks the application form and marks the questions. They also do a security check on the candidates, to make sure none are involved in any form of criminal activity. This is known as the Paper Sift. If an applicant is successful, they are invited to the Assessment Centre.
At the Assessment Centre, candidates are required to complete what is known as the ‘Police Initial Recruitment Test’ (PIRT), which is a series of tests on the written English skills, verbal reasoning, oral skills and mathematical skills of the candidates. These are tested in a number of ways. The verbal reasoning and mathematical skills are tested through a written test, while candidates must take part in a series of unforeseen roleplay scenarios to test their oral skills.
If a candidate is judged to be suitable at the Assessment Centre, they are then invited to attend a Medical & Fitness Test. This is to prove that candidates hold the minimum health and fitness to be a police officer. The Medical Test consists of a physical examination, while the Fitness test includes the Bleep Test and a series of Push and Pull exercises. If one is successful at these tests, they are offered a position as a Police Constable within the MPS. As mentioned earlier, candidates can wait up to two years to get through the tests and there is no guarantee of success; furthermore, a final offer can be withdrawn without reason at any time.
After a final offer is made, a recruit is then given a date to start training at Hendon College in North London. Here, they train to be a police constable. The training ranges from how to use a baton and CS gas to how to deal with different situations to different aspects of the law and what constitutes a crime. Training is normally residential and takes several months to complete. Recruits are tested in various disciplines as the course progresses. When the training is complete, a recruit is 'attested' - meaning they are made an official police officer - and their career starts.
But, it’s not over there! At this point, the new PC is required to list the three London boroughs they would most like to work in, out of a list of boroughs that have vacancies. There is no guarantee that they will be given any of their choices when allocated to work in a borough. When they are given a placement, they are sent to a police station within the borough, which is their ‘home’ police station. At this point, the PC is known as a ‘probationer’ – they are now on a two year probation period. In the first six to eight weeks, a probationer is partnered at all times with an experienced police officer, and mainly patrol on foot within the community. After this period, they are given some experience in response patrols in cars and they receive training to drive a police car with flashing lights and sirens. Eventually, they are allowed to patrol on their own.
Within their first two years, a PC can be dismissed at any point for any number of reasons; they can range from not having the correct level of fitness to bringing the MPS into disrepute to being drunk in public while off duty.
It is expected that the Metropolitan Police will be involved quite heavily in recruitment over the next few years, so as to be prepared for the Olympics.
Entry requirements and type of person suited for the Metropolitan Police Service.
The minimum age that a person can be accepted for training to be a PC is 18 and they may only start off as a PC aged eighteen and a half. There is no upper age limit for joining. Despite popular lore, the requirement than applicant must be a certain height to join the MPS has been abolished. No formal qualifications are required to join the MPS. A person must be a British citizen or an EU or Commonwealth national with no limits on their stay in Britain. Again, despite popular belief, applicants do not have to have a driving licence or be able to swim to join the MPS.
PCSOs must be a minimum of eighteen years of age. There is no minimum age for civilian staff.
Future prospects and training within the Metropolitan Police Service
There is a massive amount of options for career development within the Metropolitan Police. After the two year probationary period, PCs have an opportunity to specialise in any number of different uniformed and non sections of the force. There is also an opportunity to move up the ranks, and for PCs to train to be Sergeants and then Inspectors. PCs can also train to be detectives, working in CID and investigating crime.
The number of specialisations within uniform that a PC has the opportunity to join is huge. A PC can train:
- to be an Authorised Firearms Officer, patrolling the streets in an Armed Response Vehicle and responding to spontaneous emergency calls involving firearms, such as bank robberies or shootings. From then on, they can train to be a Specialist Firearms Officer, which gives them the opportunity to move into Royal and Diplomatic Protection, hostage rescue, guarding of secure locations and terrorism prevention.
- to be a Mounted Police Officer, which involves being equipped with a horse for public order and general patrol activities. Mounted police are at the forefront of policing at football matches and public demonstrations, as well as ceremonial events involving the Royal family. Also involved is the care and maintenance of the horse itself, although officers are assisted by civilians for this purpose.
- to work in the Dog Support Unit, working with trained police dogs. Police dogs can be used to search for suspects, detect drugs, cash, explosives or weapons, and chasing and detaining people. Dog handlers and their dogs are often called to break up fights and police events with crowds involved, but also provide a visible police presence in certain areas and are vital in the fight against drugs. Handlers live with and care for their dogs.
- as a Traffic Police Officer. This requires special training in driving and pursuit skills and allows officers to police the roads. Traffic officers are often involved in pursuing stolen vehicles and reckless drivers, but are also required to deal with any vehicular defects they see while on patrol and to attend and investigate all fatal collisions on the road. They are highly knowledgeable in areas such as the Highway Code, vehicle examination, collision investigation and vehicular knowledge.
- to work on a boat. Some Metropolitan Police officers train to patrol and police the River Thames on twenty two different vehicles. They provide a visible presence on the Thames and specialist support for land based officers. They are required to deal with suicides on the Thames, protection of vulnerable vehicles and protection and security for important events on and around the Thames and other waterways and lakes within London, among others.
This list is just some of the specialisations in detail. Others include:
- aviation support – patrol on a helicopter.
- Palace of Westminster division – protection of the Houses of Parliament
- public order (riot police) – dealing with riots and protections of demonstrations, football matches and other public events, such as carnivals
- covert policing – in plain clothes
- Central Communications Command – communication between the MPS and the public
- Territorial Support Group – providing immediate anti terrorist and spontaneous disorder crime across London, giving a variety of skills such as firearms, plain clothes and rapid entry
- Murder Investigation Team – investigating homicide in London
- Operations Trident and Trafalgar – investigating gun and gang crime in the capital
- Wildlife Crime – enforcement of the UK’s wildlife laws
Other comments about the Metropolitan Police Service.
Consult the website for further and more detailed information.
If you have applied to the Metropolitan Police Service, we would like you to hear from you. Please use the following form to detail your experiences of application, to aid those interested in following a similar career path.
Position applied for:
Year of Application:
What were your experiences of the application process?
What is it like working for the Metropolitan Police Service?
How has it compared to your expectations?
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Finally, any advice you would give to potential applicants?