The police officer role
Are you looking for a new, exciting and varied career, where no two days are the same? If so, then the role of a Police Officer could be for you!
We are looking for enthusiastic and dedicated people who will be committed to our vision; to be the best at understanding and responding to the needs of the community; to protecting the most vulnerable, catching criminals and keeping the public safe, whilst also abiding by the policing Code of Ethics.
To be successful you will need to meet our minimum entry requirements, and demonstrate a passion and commitment to providing a first class policing service to the people of South Wales.
We are currently closed for applications however if you wish to register your interest for our Pre-Join Degree please click here.
We have a strong commitment to equality and diversity both within the organisation and in the service we provide. Our aim is to promote and achieve a fully inclusive workforce to reflect the communities we serve. South Wales Police particularly welcomes applicants from under-represented groups.
South Wales Police is proud to work under a positive action initiative to support those from under-represented groups. If you are from a diverse background and have an interest in joining us please contact our Representative Workforce Team.
South Wales Police is the largest police force in Wales and although geographically small, covering around 812 square miles and equating to just 10% of the geographical area of Wales, South Wales Police provides a policing service to 1.3 million people (42% of the country’s population).
South Wales is a diverse region, boasting urban, rural and coastal areas and featuring the two largest cities in Wales – Swansea and the capital city, Cardiff. The force also serves 63 of the 100 most deprived communities in Wales.
The force has almost 3000 police officers and over 2200 police staff, including Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) and a team of dedicated volunteers that includes over 200 Special Constables and around 200 Police Youth Volunteers. We are committed to developing our staff and providing them with the best support and resources to enable them to effectively support our local communities.
As a force we are investing heavily in the latest technology and the welfare of staff and officers. South Wales Police have been at the heart of many major events - the Champion’s League, NATO and the Olympics are just some of the events that we’ve hosted here in South Wales in recent times.
Join and help us be the best at understanding and responding to our communities’ needs.
When the time for promotion or specialisation is right; you will find SWP a supportive employer and we will provide the opportunity for your aspirations and ability to be recognised.
Our unique Talent Management Programme was launched in 2020, offering additional development routes for exceptional officers.
A career path for police officers exists up to the rank of Chief Superintendent.
To apply for the role of police constable, you will need to be aged 17 years or over (will only be appointed at the age of 18).
Cautions and Convictions
You may still be eligible to join the police service if you have minor convictions/cautions, but there are certain offences and conditions that will make you ineligible. You MUST declare all convictions for past offences, formal cautions (including as a juvenile) and any bind-over imposed by the courts. You should also include all traffic convictions. Due to the nature of policing, it’s essential that we conduct rigorous vetting checks on successful applicants before they can join the program.
You must be a British Citizen, citizen from the European Economic Area (EEA), Commonwealth citizen or foreign national with no restrictions on your stay in the United Kingdom. You must also have been continually resident in the UK for the three year period immediately before an application is made. This is to satisfy the requirement to vet all applicants in an equitable manner and the UK Police service does not currently have any means of facilitating vetting checks overseas, to the extent required of those who have been resident in the UK. Applicants who cannot be vetted, cannot be appointed.
All applicants will have their financial status checked. These checks are carried out because Police Constables have access to privileged information, which may make them vulnerable to corruption. Any applicants with outstanding County Court judgements, who have been registered bankrupt with outstanding debts, will be rejected. If you have discharged bankruptcy debts then you will need to provide a Certificate of Satisfaction with your application. Applicants who are the subject of a current Individual Voluntary Arrangement (IVA) will not be considered.
Applicants must be in good health mentally and physically to deal with the pressures and demands of the role. Successful applicants who receive a conditional offer of appointment will then be asked prior to appointment to fill in a medical questionnaire and undertake a medical examination which will also include an eyesight test and BMI check (Body Mass Index).
The current Home Office circular 59/2004 outlines this as between 18 and 30. Applicants who do not meet this standard may find their application delayed and / or will not be appointed.
Police Officer applicants with a BMI over 32 will not be considered fit unless their body fat percentage is less than 30% for men or 36% for women. If you have a disability, we will make adjustments where it is reasonable to do so.
You must be physically fit in order to effectively complete the duties required of a Police Constable. All applicants must pass a basic fitness test before appointment. For the endurance test you will be asked to run back and forth a 15 metre track in time with a series of bleeps, in time the bleeps become increasingly faster. You must achieve level 5.4.
You will also be required to attend a pre-appointment fitness test approximately 6 weeks prior to the anticipated appointment date and you must pass this to progress your application.
South Wales Police has a policy of prohibiting any of our officers or staff from being members of the BNP, or a similar organisation whose aims, objectives or pronouncements may contradict the duty to promote race equality. If you are, or have previously been a member of the BNP or a similar organisation, your application will be rejected.
Candidates with visible tattoos may be eligible for appointment. Each case will be considered on its own merits, taking into account the number, nature, size, prominence, appearance and location of the tattoos. Tattoos must not be offensive to colleagues or members of the public or undermine the dignity of your role within the Force. Tattoos on the neck, face or hands are still deemed to be unacceptable but consideration may be given in some circumstances considering the size, nature and prominence of the tattoo. If candidates choose to have any additional tattoos during the recruitment process, after passing eligibility checks, the onus is on them to advise HR and provide appropriate photographs which will need to be checked.
PCDA (Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship)
Pay Point 0
Pay Point 1
Gateway 1 (12 months)
Pay Point 2
Gateway 2 (2 years)
Pay Point 3
End of probation (3 years)
DHEP (Degree Holder Entry Programme) / Fast Track to Detective
Pay Point 0
Pay Point 1
Gateway 1 (12 months)
Pay Point 3
End of probation (2 years)
What can South Wales Police offer you:
- Annual Leave of 22 days (increasing with length of service), plus bank holidays or time in lieu.
- Police pension.
- Childcare Vouchers scheme – which can be used to pay for approved childcare providers.
- Enhanced Maternity, Paternity and Adoption pay.
- Assistance in gaining professional policing qualifications.
- Support and advice from Occupational Health and access to a range of wellbeing services.
- Support and advice from our Staff Associations and Support Networks which include: Female Police Association, LGBT Network, Black Police Association, Christian Police Association, Ability Support Network, Police Federation, Unison, GMB.
- Access to subsidised gyms – throughout force area.
- Cycle to work scheme.
- Training, development and promotion opportunities within an organisation, which values continued professional development.
- Lifestyle and organisational discounts, which include travel, financial products, an eye care scheme and many more.
The Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) is a three-year practice-based higher-education programme, leading to a BSc Hons Degree in Professional Policing Practice.
To apply for the PCDA entrants must have already achieved a Level 3 qualification (A level or equivalent) or have successfully completed the online competency based assessment. Predicted grades will not be accepted. The necessary certification will need to be provided at the point of application.
If successful you will need to undertake a number of assessments and assignments during the term of your Apprenticeship.
Apprentices appointed need to have already achieved a GCSE Grade A-C in Maths and English, or a Level 2 Equivalent. If not it they will need to complete the Essential Skills qualification during their training to fulfil the requirement of the Apprenticeship Scheme.
Protected study time to support your professional development will be provided, however it is also likely that a level of private study, outside of working hours, will also be needed. Further information about the programme of learning will be made available shortly.
As an apprentice, how long will I be on probation for?
As a student enrolled on the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeships ( PCDA ) you will have a 3 year probationary period.
What will the apprenticeship probation period look like?
Following appointment, you will embark on a 6-month initial learning programme at South Wales Police Learning and Development services Bridgend. You will also undertake a 12 week tutoring period within the community, where you will be expected to achieve independent patrol status.
For the remainder of the probationary period you will carry out operational duties in the workplace gathering evidence of occupational competency.
You will also be required to carry our academic elements assigned to you by a partner university. Successful completion of both practical and academic elements will result in you being confirmed in rank.
The Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP) is for those who already hold a degree in any subject area but want to join the force.
This is a two-year programme combining on-the-job practical learning and operational competence with academic learning. Upon completion, successful candidates will also achieve a Diploma in Professional Policing Practice. The force covers all course fees relating to this entry route. Predicted grades will not be accepted. The necessary certification will also need to be attached before you can submit an application.
If your degree was achieved outside of the UK, you must achieve ratification from a Higher Education Establishment within the UK to evidence your qualification is recognised at Degree standard.
If you are yet to complete your degree, but would still like to apply, you should do so though the Apprenticeship route. If successful however you will be unable to complete your current degree qualification and you will not be able to defer your application to a later date.
As a degree holder, how long will I be on probation for?
As a degree holder you will have a 2 year probationary period.
What will the degree holder probation period look like?
Following appointment, you will embark on a 6-month initial learning programme at South Wales Police Learning and Development services Bridgend.
You will complete a 12 week tutoring period within the community, where you will be expected to achieve independent patrol status. The remainder of the probationary period you will carry out operational duties in the workplace gathering evidence of occupational competency. You will also be required to carry our academic elements assigned to you by a partner university.
Successful completion of both practical and academic elements will result in you being confirmed in rank.
South Wales Police has started this exciting new route to becoming a police officer. A career in policing demands skill, responsibility, leadership, initiative and a genuine desire to make a difference to society. The pre-join degree is a professional, academic, knowledge based degree with the curriculum designed to cover all aspects of the police constable role and help you meet that challenge.
If you are currently in your Final year or have completed the Pre-join degree in Professional Policing – South Wales Police is the ideal force for you to commence your career as a Police Officer.
The pre-join degree is a three-year full-time course self-funded by the student the same as any degree and can only be offered by organisations licensed by the College of Policing. The degree aims to develop high levels of professional knowledge and skills across a range of complex and challenging situations as required for front-line policing.
To view a full list of the organisations currently licensed we have provided a link to the College of Policing Website as the list is continually updated.
To be eligible to apply via this route applicants must achieve their degree before applying to join the police service, or be in the final year of their degree at the time of application and achieve their degree prior to appointment. Successful applicants will then enjoy a shorter on-the-job training programme. N.B. If you wish to take this route into the SWP you must apply to join within 5 years of graduating.
National and local eligibility requirements must still be met and achievement of the degree does not guarantee a successful application. Prospective applicants are strongly advised to check eligibility requirements before commencing their degree.
Once you join South Wales Police you will commence a two year probationary period during which you will undertake further practice based learning and assessments in order to demonstrate your competence for the role.
What does the training entail?
You will undergo a two-year training programme, during which time you will complete mandatory training such as personal safety and first aid. You will have up to 10-15 weeks in initial Police learning before a response policing attachment where you will be required to achieve independent patrol status and achieve occupational competency.
The application process
You can complete the exercises on any internet-enabled device with a camera (laptop, tablet or phone), but to ensure full compatibility with the online platform, the following should be set up:
- Your operating system should be Windows 7 (or higher) or Mac OS 10.11 (or higher).
- Your browser should be the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome or Safari (Apple products only).
- You should have the latest version of Adobe Flash installed, and you require a webcam and microphone to record responses.
It is advisable to complete the whole application process on the same device as the IP addresses will conflict if you decide to swap devices once you have commenced and this could prevent you continuing with your application. It is therefore not advisable to complete your application in work.
It is not advisable to use hand held devices such as tablets or mobile phones as they are not compatible with the on-line tests that have to be completed. We are only able to re-set tests on one occasion per candidate.
Applicants are also advised to check their “junk” box for email updates from the system.
The first step will be an online application process which includes some eligibility ‘killer questions’. If you pass this stage you will be required to complete several online tests and an application form. There are 2 tests that every applicant must complete (regardless of qualifications), these are a Situational Judgement Test and a Behavioural Style Questionnaire. Both of these must be passed in order to continue in the application process.
Behavioural Styles Questionnaire (BSQ)
The Police Behavioural Styles Questionnaire measures your typical behaviour and preferences at work. The purpose of the questionnaire is to assess whether you have the right behaviours and attitudes to be effective in the role. This questionnaire invites you to review a number of statements and indicate which statements you completely agree with or completely disagree with on a sliding scale. In the questionnaire, you will be presented with these statements about your typical behaviour at work in blocks of four. You will need to read each statement carefully and then decide the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement using the rating scale below:
- Completely Disagree
- Strongly Disagree
- Somewhat Disagree
- Neither Agree nor Disagree
- Somewhat Agree
- Strongly Agree
- Completely Agree
Depending on your responses, you may also be asked to rank particular statements in terms of how well they describe your typical behaviour at work. There is no time limit, but it should take approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete the questionnaire. The test does not require any specialist knowledge to complete.
Situational Judgement Test (SJT)
The Police Situational Judgment Test assesses your judgement and decision-making skills in relation to job-relevant situations. In the test you will be presented with a series of scenarios which reflect challenging situations that you may face when working in a PCSO role. For each scenario, you will be presented with four possible actions that could be taken. You will be asked to rate each of the four actions in terms of its effectiveness in addressing the scenario. The scale you are required to rate the actions on is shown below:
- Counterproductive - An inappropriate action that will have a negative impact or make the situation worse.
- Ineffective - A poor action which will not help the situation.
- Slightly Effective - An action that would have a small positive impact on the situation.
- Effective - An action that would have a reasonable positive impact on the situation.
- Very Effective - One of the best actions that could be taken in response to the situation.
The test does not require any specialist knowledge to complete. Your responses should be based solely on the information presented in each scenario.
Proof of Qualification
You will be required to upload and attach your relevant Degree or Level 3 or equivalent Certificate before you submit your application. If you do not have a copy of this you will need to obtain one from the appropriate educational establishment.
If your Degree (or Level 3 qualification) was achieved outside of the UK, you must achieve ratification from a Higher Education Establishment within the UK to evidence your qualification is recognised at Degree standard (or level 3 standard).
If you do not have a Level 3 qualification or above you must also successfully pass a verbal reasoning and maths calculation test. This will test your academic ability to Level 3. If you successfully complete the above tests, but fail in another part of the recruitment process, you will not be required to retake these tests again, should you wish to re-apply after 6 months.
Due to COVID 19 an online assessment process will be used until further notice. Read information on this assessment process.
The new process will enable rapid recruitment without face-to-face contact while social distancing measures are required. It will also enable secure online assessment to be part of an efficient and user-friendly candidate journey in the future.
The online assessment process
The online assessment process consists of a three-stage approach designed for the efficient assessment and recruitment of police constables. The three stages are:
Stage 1 – Situational judgement test (SJT)
This test measures your ability to choose the appropriate action in situations similar to those you are likely to face as a police constable. This test will measure your judgement and ability to make effective decisions against the Competency and Values Framework for Policing.
South Wales Police uses our own shortlisting tools so if you are invited to take part in the online assessment centre you will start the process at STAGE 2.
Stage 2 – Competency-based interview
You will be asked a series of questions about how you have dealt with specific situations in the past. This is your opportunity to provide some examples of the key competencies and values that are important for police constables. You can use examples from both your work and your personal life. If you have completed stage 1, you will be required to take stage 2 immediately upon completion.
Stage 3 – Written assessment and briefing exercise
Stage 3a – Written assessment
In this exercise, you will assume the role of a police constable and will have to complete an urgent written task for your line manager. You will receive four items of information to help you with this task.
Stage 3b – Briefing exercise
In this exercise, you will assume the role of a police constable and will have responsibility for dealing with some issues presented to you. You will be tasked with providing a response to a number of questions in relation to this issue. You will be provided with preparation materials to consider your answer.
Please note that you will receive and be able to take stages 3a and 3b separately
Transferring Police National Assessment Centre (SEARCH) scores to South Wales Police
You are able to request to transfer your Assessment Centre score but only when we are advertising a recruitment campaign.
As part of the national recruitment process, South Wales Police consider applications from individuals who achieve an overall pass mark of 50% across each competency at the national assessment process (SEARCH). Please note that when you request to transfer your score you are still required to complete and submit an application form and complete any other sections of the recruitment process that you are guided to. You will not receive confirmation on whether your AC score has been accepted or not until after the campaign has closed.
Your interview will be based on the competencies and values contained within the role profile which was attached to the advert, and which are also important to South Wales Police.
Use examples from your work, social, domestic or educational life to answer the interview questions. In these examples we are looking for specific evidence of competency behaviours which fit our organisation's values.
Be specific: we want to know what YOU said or did on a given occasion to deal with the situation. It’s therefore important that the examples you provide are your own experiences and as detailed as possible.
Policing can occasionally be physically demanding, so you will need to be in fairly good physical condition to pass the fitness test. The test will basically measure whether your fitness levels are high enough. For the endurance test, you will be asked to run back and forth a 15 metre track in time with a series of bleeps. As the test goes on, the bleeps become increasingly faster to level 5.4.
You will also be required to attend a pre-appointment fitness test approximately prior to the anticipated appointment date and you must pass this to progress your application.
Due to the nature of police work, good health and fitness is paramount. However, applications are welcome from people with disabilities and every effort will be made to make reasonable adjustments if required. If you are successful at the interview stage you will undertake a medical examination.
There are certain medical conditions and disorders that may have a detrimental effect on your ability to conduct the role effectively; each case will be considered carefully as part of the medical process.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
Your weight range will be assessed during your medical assessment. The healthy weight range is based on a measurement known as your body mass index (BMI). This can be determined if you know your weight and your height. The actual calculation is your weight (in kilograms) divided by your height (in metres squared). Guidance and easy to use charts on how to calculate your BMI can be found on the NHS website.
The NHS advises that a BMI of 18.5 to 24.9 suggests a normal healthy weight. This means your body is not at risk of weight-related disease.
The Home Office sets BMI standards for police officers. The current Home Office circular 59/2004 outlines this as between 18 and 30. Applicants who do not meet this standard may find their application delayed and / or will not be appointed.
Police Officer applicants with a BMI over 32 will not be considered fit unless their body fat percentage is less than 30% for men or 36% for women.
Vetting and references
The importance of honesty and integrity is made clear throughout our application process. Officers are subject to the Standards of Professional Behaviour, which clearly set out what communities can expect from their officers.
References are required to cover a minimum of 3 years of continuous employment history. If you have not been in employment for 3 years we will look to obtain education and personal references.
Drugs test and biometric vetting
You will also be asked to undertake a drugs test and provide information about any medication you may be taking. Legislation has been introduced that requires applicants to undergo biometric vetting.
If you should fail the drugs test you will not be offered a position with South Wales Police. Any internal candidates who fail a drugs test will have their offer withdrawn and the results from the drugs test may be used in accordance with the South Wales Police Staff Discipline Police and Police Staff Code of Conduct.
On the day we will be asking you to sign a consent form to take your fingerprints and a sample of your DNA for the purposes of a speculative search and for your fingerprints and DNA profile to be retained on the Police Elimination Database (PEDb).
The purpose of obtaining fingerprints and DNA samples is to allow for a speculative search to be made against the local and national databases prior to your appointment to the police force. This is to ensure that you have not previously come to adverse police attention, which you have not informed us of, and also that you are not linked to any outstanding crime scenes.
The first six months of police training will be classroom based. Police officers and police staff trainers will deliver the course at a police-training establishment in Bridgend.
This is a non-residential course designed to help maximise learning potential both academically and practically and start developing operational policing skills. The classroom syllabus is based on the curriculum developed by the College of Policing, which covers all areas required for the role of a Police Constable. Various E-learning packages alongside fitness, first aid and personal safety training will also be undertaken.
At various stages of the course, student constables will need to demonstrate their understanding and knowledge through informal and formal assessment processes. This will include multiple choice examinations, assignments and practical assessments. Constables are always expected to display the appropriate behaviour and attitude during their training in line with the police service’s Code of Ethics.
Following the successful completion of year one officers will commence a period of tutoring at an operational police station with a qualified tutor. Successful completion of the tutor phase will allow student constables to be placed on independent patrol.
In years two and three (depending on entry route), whilst working in an operational environment, student constables on the apprenticeship will be working towards achieving a degree in Professional Policing Practice whilst Degree holder student constables will be working towards achieving a Graduate Certificate in Professional Policing.
Recruits on both programmes will be required to complete an occupational competency portfolio during their probationary period, and will be required to complete a level of private study, outside of working hours.
Please be aware that on appointment and during your service you may be posted to any location in South Wales based on operational need.
Applicants should also be aware that although they will be entitled to a level of protected study time in the workplace to support their professional development, it is also likely that some students will also need to undertake private study, outside of working hours. It is estimated that any learner on a degree or graduate diploma programme will carry out an average of 5 hours per week private study, although this will very much dependent upon the student.
All learners are required to successfully complete the required qualification. Please note that “protected learning time” will be subject to organisational need.