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.
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 also need to be provided. If successful you will need to undertake a number of assessments and assignments during the term of your Apprenticeship.
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.
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.
South Wales Police will commence with an exciting new route to becoming a police officer in 2021. 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.
South Wales Police particularly welcomes applicants from under- represented groups.
Why join South Wales Police?
South Wales Police brings together thousands of people with the same aim – to keep South Wales safe. South Wales Police has a proud history. It includes Cardiff, the capital city of Wales, and it serves 42% of the population of Wales. Each year our area also attracts an estimated 25 million visitors and stages some 200 major events.
If successful, you will be joining one of the best performing forces in the UK and we are getting busier.
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 Champions 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.
You can find out more about the prcoess via this link.
You can only apply for this route if you are currently in your Final year or have completed the Pre-join degree in Professional Policing.
Additional eligibility can be found via this link.
FAQ Pre-Join Degree Programme
How much will I get paid?
The pay is the same as the DHEP PC programme.
What benefits are provided?
A full list of benefits can be found on this page.
Will I need to pass any assessments?
Yes. All candidates will need to pass the assessed requirements of the programme.
Support will be provided for all assessments.
What does the training entail?
You will undergo a 2-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.
If I have a disability, can I still apply?
Yes. We welcome applications from people with disabilities. Adjustments will be made to selection processes and/or the working environment, provided it is reasonable in all circumstances to do so.
If you consider yourself to have a disability, please inform us of the type of reasonable adjustments you might need to assist you in participating in the recruitment and selection process.
Can adjustments be made if I have a neurodiversity related condition e.g. dyslexia?
Candidates with a neurodiversity related condition, e.g. dyslexia, can request reasonable adjustments during the assessment process.
I already have an application in to become a police officer via another route, can I apply to both?
You need to choose which route is the most appealing to you and apply for only that route. If you have the pre- join degree you could benefit from a shorter training schedule.
My question is not answered in these FAQs how do I get in touch?
Email any further queries you have to:
How will I be contacted throughout the process?
Primarily we will contact you via the portal on our e-recruitment site so you need to log in frequently and regularly check your emails (including your junk folder).
To be successful you will need meet our minimum entry requirements, and demonstrate a passion and commitment to providing a first class policing service to the people of South Wales.
South Wales Police prides itself on our exceptional people so if you feel that you would like to come and join us keep an eye on our current vacancies.
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 your 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. If you are from a diverse background and culture and would like to speak with someone about this role, forthcoming recruitment campaigns, opportunities or support available to you, please contact our representative workforce team via email.
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)
- Have lived in the UK for three continuous years, immediately prior to application.
- Have leave to enter or leave to remain in the UK for an indefinite period. N.B You will need to provide proof of this when completing your application.
- Not be a member of the British National Party (BNP) plus other organisations such as Combat 18 or The National Front.
- Not have any tattoos that could cause offence. Tattoos on the neck, face or hands are deemed to be unacceptable but consideration may be given in some circumstances considering the size, nature and prominence of the tattoo.
- Not have a criminal record or conviction which is incompatible with the role – please see eligibility criteria.
See the level 3 qualifications list and the full eligibility criteria as downloads at the bottom of the page.
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. These tests will include an online situational judgement test and behavioural style questionnaires.
More information here:
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 Assessment Centre you will complete a medical questionnaire and 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.
Existing tattoos will be screened for eligibility and 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.
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.
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 convections.
Due to the nature of policing, it’s essential that we conduct rigorous vetting checks on successful applicants before they can join the program. Find out more.
Body Mass Index (BMI)
If your application is successful, your weight range will be assessed during a 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 suggest 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.
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.
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.
Legislation has been introduced that requires applicants to undergo biometric vetting. Please refer to NPIA Circular 03/2012 which can be viewed on College of Policing website. This means 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 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 that you are not linked to any outstanding crime scenes.
We will ask you to take these tests after we have we have successfully completed all your background checks.
Policing can be physically demanding, so you will need to be in good physical condition to pass the fitness test.
As part of your assessment, you will be tested to ensure your fitness levels are high enough. It is a thorough test, but don’t worry, it’s not about being super fit. We only want to make sure you would be physically able to carry out your duties. If you don’t meet the standard first time around, you can take the test again up to a maximum of three times, with six weeks in between each attempt in order for you to develop and improve.
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.
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)
Pay Point 0
Pay Point 1
Gateway 1 (12 months)
Pay Point 3
End of probation (2 years)
- 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 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, 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.