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Police officer recruitment - guidance for candidates

A career in policing can be hugely rewarding – opening up so many opportunities for you to develop both personally and professionally. And you’ll be able to make a positive difference to the communities you serve.

The police recruitment process is designed to spot the candidates with the most potential to become outstanding police officers. It involves a number of stages, and you need to stand out to be successful in being offered a role. So it’s really important that you understand what’s involved and prepare well for each stage, allowing you to perform at your very best.

Here you’ll find information and advice on various stages of the recruitment process.

The Online Assessment process

College of Policing guidance for candidates on what's involved in the Online Assessment process. 

College of Policing - FAQs from candidates on the Online Assessment process. 

College of Policing's policy on accommodations and reasonable adjustments for candidates going through the Online Assessment process. 

Fitness / Medical Tests

Once you pass the Online Assessment, the next step to becoming a police officer is the Fitness test. 
It’s simply to test you’ve got the basic level of fitness needed to be a police officer, not an Olympic athlete.

It involves a multi-stage run, known as the ‘bleep test’. 
It takes 3 minutes and 35 seconds and is made up of 35, 15 metre shuttle runs between two points.
You’ll hear a bleep at set intervals – you need to reach the other side before the next bleep. 
The bleeps speed up during the test. Your running speed will start at 7.9kph and will increase to 9.9kph. 

Which means, you’ll end up running the 15 metre stretch in 5 to 6 seconds by the end of the test.

Think you’re not fit enough? Don’t worry – it’s not super hard. 

As long as you’re reasonably fit and do some training in advance, you should be absolutely fine.

Let’s take a look at the best way to train.

Focus on exercise activities that increase your cardiovascular fitness. For example…running. 

Regular runs build up your heart and lung capacity, and your leg muscles. Try a mix of interval training and steady running.

With interval training – warm up for 5 minutes, followed by 30 seconds hard sprint then 30 seconds of walking. 
Do this 10 times, then – cool down. Interval training simulates what your body will go through in the bleep test. 

With Steady running – warm up for 5 minutes, followed by running at a steady pace for a few minutes, eventually building up to around 15 minutes - then – cool down. 

It’s good to include some 180-degree turns into your runs. That’s where you pivot and run the other way.
That’s because you’ll be running back and forward between two points in the bleep test, rather than in a straight line.

And, you can mix up running with other aerobic exercise, like swimming, rowing, cycling and cross trainer. 

These all use large muscle groups and are great for building up your heart and lung capacity. 

But as the test is running-based, make sure you’re building up your leg muscles. Running really should make up the bulk of your training.

Here’s some of our top training tips.

Don’t start training the week before the test! Start training at least six weeks before. 

Not a regular exerciser? Seek medical advice before starting your training. 

Start slowly and build up the length and intensity of your training sessions.

Always warm up and cool down properly. 

Remember to stretch. 

And build in toning and strengthening exercises. They’ll really help increase your overall fitness.

Record your progress. Seeing your fitness improve will help keep you motivated.

Don't forget to keep your fluid levels up as you train. 

Why not train with friends? It’s safer and more enjoyable.

And don’t overdo it. Give yourself rest days to recover.

Looking for some extra support? Here are some handy training resources.

Search 15metre bleep test on iTunes, Google Play and YouTube.

And try the NHS Couch to 5k app

Remember, you don’t need to be super-human to pass the Fitness Test. 

Follow our training tips and you should be able to pass – no problem. 

Best of luck!


The Vetting Quiz

powerpoint 17.9 MB

Let’s test your knowledge on what you need to declare during the Vetting process. Together, we’ll explore some common scenarios and discuss the right response.

Recruitment process checklist

You can use this checklist to help you prepare the information you'll need for the application and recruitment process. 

Candidate checklist

pdf 235.63 KB

Pdf checklist candidates can use to help prepare for the recruitment process. 

Pdf checklist a candidate can use to help prepare for the recruitment process - print-friendly version.

There’s also a wide range of content around joining the police on the national police recruitment website.

Good luck with your application.

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