Do you care about making a difference in the job you do? Then becoming a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) could be for you.
PCSOs are all about providing that vital link between the community and the police service to help make sure everyone has the support they need. Being a PCSO can be challenging, but it is also a role that includes variety, meaning and excitement.
You will be supporting frontline policing by undertaking tasks such as stopping speeding outside our schools, reporting vandalism or reducing anti-social behaviour - your work will make a real difference in keeping South Wales safe.
As a PCSO you will be working in the heart of our communities providing a visible, accessible and approachable uniformed presence. It is essential that you will be able to demonstrate the following attributes:
Good communication skills: It is essential that you are able to listen to the needs and concerns of others
Ability to develop effective working relationships: As a PCSO you will need to be proactive in building trust and confidence with both colleagues and the community
Ability to work alone and as part of a team: Often your work as a PCSO will see you operating on your own, but it is important that you are able to effectively contribute to activities in the wider local community
You must be at least 18 years of age to become a PCSO. There is no upper age limit.
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. This includes anyone who has received a formal caution in the last five years, committed a violent crime or public order offence. When making our decisions we are guided by the 03/2012 National Policing Improvement Agency Eligibility criteria for the role of police constable 2019.
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 Community Support Officers 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.
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.
To join the Force in this role you will need to have a level 2 or above qualification in Maths & English (Grade A - C). Please note that you will be required to upload evidence of your level 2 English and Maths certificate at the same time as you submit your application.
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.
Joining our Force as a PCSO is a rewarding and challenging way to make a real difference to the people of South Wales. As a PCSO you will be working constantly with members of the public, building links with employers, business and community leaders and will have limited powers suited to your role.
As a PCSO you will not investigate serious crime, conduct interviews or carry out the more complex and high-risk tasks that Police Officers perform. You will however, play a critical role in reducing crime across South Wales.
PCSOs may be involved in:
Conducting patrols and providing a visible presence in the community
Providing crime prevention advice and personal safety advice
Liaising with key people in the community, such as local business and religious leaders
Engaging with young people, including work in the community and in schools
There are a set of 20 standard powers for PCSOs.
These powers allow PCSOs to:
Request the name and address of a person who committed a relevant offence
Request name and address of a person acting in an antisocial manner
Issue Fixed Penalty Notices for cycling on a footpath
Issue Fixed Penalty Notices for littering
Request a person to stop drinking in a ‘Designated Public Place’ and surrender containers of alcohol
Confiscate alcohol from young people
Confiscate cigarettes and tobacco from young people
Enter premises to save life or limb or to prevent serious damage to a property
Stop vehicles for purpose of a road check
Seize vehicles used to cause alarm or distress
Require removal of abandoned vehicles
Stop pedal cycles
Control traffic for purposes other than escorting dimensions
Require name and address for road traffic offences
Maintain and enforce a cordoned area established under Section 36, Terrorism Act 2000
Stop and search in authorised areas under supervision of a Police Constable
Seize drugs and require name and address for possession of drugs
Photograph people away from a police station
Issue Fixed Penalty Notices in respect of offences under dog control orders
Can I work part time as a PCSO?
Yes, if you are successful you can apply to work part time. Your salary, and other entitlements such as holidays will be adjusted pro rata.
As a PCSO will I carry the same equipment as a police officer?
PCSOs do not carry a baton, CS spray or handcuffs like police officers. This is because they carry out a completely different role and will not be expected to deal with confrontational situations where they may need them. All PCSOs are issued with radios, so they may access police communications and support.
Are PCSOs just a replacement for police officers?
PCSOs have a very different role from police officers. Their purpose is not to replace police officers, but to support them in addressing quality of life issues and community needs. They are a vital addition to the policing family, and will address tasks that don’t require the experience or powers of arrest a police officer has.
Why do PCSOs have shift and weekend allowance?
PCSOs are hired under different terms and conditions to police officers, so may be eligible to receive additional payments if they work a particular shift pattern on a rostered basis. Essentially, the entitlement means that PCSOs can be rostered when required.
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:
Neither Agree nor Disagree
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.
If you do not have a Level 2 qualification or above you must also successfully pass a verbal reasoning and maths calculation test. This will test your academic ability to Level 2.
If you successfully complete the online tests your application will be reviewed for eligibility.
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.
Serving the Public
Openness to Change
Working with Others
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.
If successful at the interview stage we will then start pre-employment checks.
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.
When undergoing an eye test, new recruits must have at least 6/12 vision in their right or left eye, or at least 6/6 vision in both eyes. Those who wear glasses, spectacles or contact lenses must have at least 6/36 vision in both eyes without wearing their glasses, spectacles or contact lenses.
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. 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.
PCSO 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. Failure to meet the medical and eyesight standards will mean you cannot be appointed.
Vetting and references
You will complete forms relating to security vetting information and clearance and checks will be completed by our Vetting Department. Our Vetting Unit must carry out background checks using information you provided on your application against you and your family using Police systems. These will include any convictions/cautions and financial vetting.
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.
If I join South Wales Police as a PCSO can I transfer to become a police officer?
No, you would have to go through the official recruitment process like all other applicants in order to qualify as a police officer. Please refer to our website on Police Officer recruitment for further information.
If I apply to become a PCSO can I still apply to be a police officer if these vacancies are advertised?
Yes you would be able to apply as currently the PCSO is not part of the SEARCH national assessment process. However before the offer of a job we would ask you to choose which process you wish to remain in.
Can you become a PCSO if you wear glasses or contact lenses?
If you successfully reach the medical examination stage of recruitment, you will have to undergo an eye test.
New recruits must have at least 6/12 vision in their right or left eye, or at least 6/6 vision in both eyes.
Those who wear glasses, spectacles or contact lenses must have at least 6/36 vision in both eyes without wearing their glasses, spectacles or contact lenses.