You’ll need at least two years work experience completed after graduation, reflecting the fact this is not an entry-level role and that we want people with some workplace maturity.

You don’t need any previous policing knowledge or experience, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve never previously considered a career in policing. We’re looking for people with the potential to become the next generation of detectives, representing the diversity of the communities you serve.

We are recruiting for new police officers only and you should not apply to our programme if you’re looking to transfer between police forces or return to policing. You can only apply to one Police Now programme per intake year and therefore if you have already applied to our 2019 National Graduate Leadership Programme you would not be eligible for our detective programme.

To be eligible for the detective programme, you must:

  • have achieved a 1st – 2:2 at undergraduate degree level or non-UK equivalent and a minimum of two years’ post graduation work experience
  • be between the ages of 20-57 on application
  • have lived in the UK for the last three years
  • have indefinite leave to remain and work in the UK
  • have received a GCSE grade C or above in English language and be fluent in the written and spoken word
  • not be looking to transfer between police forces or return to policing
  • not have already applied to our 2019 National Graduate Leadership Programme


There are six stages to the selection process. At the end of each stage, we’ll let you know whether you’ve been successful, usually by email.

The online application form is your first opportunity to tell us about yourself. You’ll need your passport, driving license, national insurance number and academic certificates to hand.

You will receive an invite to complete our online reasoning tests and will have five days to do so. You can pause between each chapter of the tests and between the verbal and numerical reasoning elements within this time period. There’s no time limit per question but your time taken will be reflected in your results. There are practice questions available which will be detailed in your invitation.

This is your chance to show some of the key strengths essential to becoming a successful Police detective. You’ll be presented with a series of different scenarios and asked how you’d respond. The assessment is challenging but questions aren’t designed to trick you or test your knowledge of the police. The aim is to identify useful strengths and personal characteristics.

Some questions ask for a decision, others for answers based on information you’ve read. Responses are through video recording, written response and multiple choice.

Next we’ll invite you to book into an Assessment Centre online. Reasonable expenses will be paid for travel and accommodation if needed. You’ll complete a strengths-based interview, two interactive role plays, a written exercise and a virtual reality exercise.

Candidates progressing to stage five will receive a conditional offer, your force allocation will be confirmed, and you’ll continue to vetting, medical and fitness testing. Your conditional offer will not result in a final offer until stages five and six are completed.

For the medical and fitness test you’ll travel to your force HQ to take a bleep test, have a consultation with a nurse or doctor, including an eyesight and hearing test, blood pressure and BMI. A DNA sample will be taken as well as your fingerprints and substance misuse testing.

It’s important you have the health and fitness levels needed to perform the role, but we don’t require extreme athleticism. If you take regular exercise such as walking, swimming or jogging you should have no problem with the fitness test. Some medical conditions may have a detrimental effect on your ability to conduct the role, so please read our medical guidance before applying.

We ask for referees to cover recent education, current and previous employment and a personal reference if there are any gaps unaccounted for. A reference will be needed even if you’ve previously had employment with a Police Service or the armed forces, regardless of length of time or how long ago it was.

If your application is successful, we ask that you’re ready to begin our residential initial twelve week Detective Academy training in September 2019.


We’re looking for people who demonstrate the strengths and characteristics suited to the role of Police detective:

  • Empathic connectors: meaningful relationships with a variety of people, allowing you to communicate and persuade effectively
  • Investigative mindset: a methodical approach to solving complex problems, considering all eventualities and risks
  • Clear communicators: a clear and effective style of communication, both verbal and written
  • Credible authority: instil confidence and trust in others through the quality of your knowledge, skills, presence and professionalism
  • Organised: manage your time highly effectively, and deliver in all situations
  • Innovative and open minded: open to learning and feedback, always striving to improve and develop
  • Resilient: work well under pressure and in the face of change, with a determined and positive attitude to overcoming obstacles
  • Committed to delivering results: often outside your comfort zone, you push yourself hard, using your initiative to get positive results
  • Legacy: making a sustainable impact, leaving things better than you found them


To be a detective, you will:

  • Thrive under pressure taking a positive attitude when overcoming obstacles
  • Respond promptly when presented with new information or changes that impact your work
  • Form meaningful relationships with a variety of people, taking the time to see things from another perspective
  • Feel confident adapting your communication style to suit your audience
  • Take a methodological approach to solving complex problems, considering all eventualities and risks
  • Ensure that you have gathered sufficient information needed to make an informed opinion


Some tips to help with your application:

  • You can pause, save and return to your online application form at any time, it does not have to be completed in one sitting
  • We receive a high number of applications so we advise you to complete your application as soon as you feel ready, to avoid missing out on your chosen force
  • When completing the online application form you’ll need to have your passport, driving licence (if applicable), national insurance number and degree certificate to hand
  • You will need to take pictures of any tattoos you have
  • Following your initial application make sure you have access to the internet to check your email account and telephone on a frequent basis
  • Make sure your email address and contact telephone number are valid throughout the recruitment stages
  • The online application form is for new police officer applications via Police Now and should not be used by those wanting to transfer between police forces or return to policing
Do you have what it takes to become a Police Detective?


For more information about Police Now, our detective programme or the application process, read our FAQs.


For any press enquiries or questions about Police Now or the detective programme, contact our general enquiries team.


If you’re looking to apply or have already applied and have any queries, please get in touch with our recruitment team.


Start your journey as a Police Detective