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Police service


If an incident reported to the police requires the police to attend or if there are viable lines of enquiry, an officer will be assigned to the case and you will be given a reference number. Please make a note of this number as you will need to quote it in further communication with the police about the matter.

The way the police investigate a matter can vary depending on the nature of the crime and the unique circumstances. All reports of crime are taken seriously and investigated with impartiality.
Information of crimes and incidents reported to the police are utilised by local forces to direct their resources to help in the detection and prevention of crime.

If an incident reported to the police is deemed to have has no further lines of enquiry and they are unable to take any further action, you will be informed of this and the reasons for their decision.

When you report a crime to the police, they will automatically ask you if you would like help from Victim Support. Anyone affected by crime can contact Victim Support directly, even if you do not report the matter to the police or the police are unable to take further action. Please see Related Information for their contact details.


The what3words system enables the emergency services to find someone more easily.

When people call 999 they often struggle to describe their location, what3words helps them say exactly where they are, saving precious response time.

How does it work?

The system works by assigning 3 distinct words for every 3 square metre grid square on a map.

You must have the what3words app on your phone (which you can download on both Android and iOS from the link in Related Information). Then in an emergency:

  • Find the 3 word address for your current location on the free what3words app. It works offline – ideal for areas with an unreliable data connection.
  • Share your 3 word address over the phone to the call handler.
  • The emergency service can then coordinate a response directly to the exact location where help is needed.

Please see the official what3words website in Related Information if you wish to know more.


The ranks of police officers are as follows (ending with the highest ranking):

Chief Inspector
Chief Superintendent
Assistant Chief Constable
Deputy Chief Constable
Chief Constable

The rank system within the Metropolitan Police Service is slightly different, and is as follows (ending with the highest ranking):

Chief Inspector
Chief Superintendent
Deputy Assistant Commissioner
Assistant Commissioner
Deputy Commissioner


In the helpdesks of many police stations there is a mixture of police staff and police officers and some police stations only have police staff. Members of police staff are highly trained to deal with members of the public so they can answer any query you may have so it is not necessary to ask to speak to a police officer.


To join the police force you need to fill in an application form supplied to you by your choice of force. The stages are carousel (a test of how you would deal with different situations), medical examination, physical assessment and interview (not necessarily in that order).

The police will carry out background checks and request references and if all these are satisfactory and you have successfully completed all the stages then you will be accepted as police constable.

Each police force recruits individually and for details on any recruitment drive you need to contact the force you are interested in joining.

For further advice on how to become a police constable see related website .


No, the police do not have the resources to run courses for dog owners.

The RSPCA do have online training tips for training your dog (see Related Information) and advise that when looking for a dog trainer they are accredited by The Association of Pet Dog Trainers to ensure they have the appropriate knowledge and skills. The link under the Related Information tab allows you to search for accredited dog trainers in your area.


Unfortunately most police forces do not provide this service as standard and if they did it may just be for a special event or occasion.
However any requests can be made via local policing teams or schools that have dedicated police officers or PCSOs.


There are two types of police dogs in service, a general-purpose dog and a drug detection dog.

The general-purpose dogs are mainly German Shepherds and some Belgian Shepherds with the drug detection dogs being mainly Springer Spaniels. There are also explosives dogs, which are Border Collies and Spaniels. The best age for offering a dog is between 12 months and 24 months.

Other breeds of dogs are used for other purposes and it is advisable to contact the Dog Unit at your local police force for more details.


Listed below are a few examples of emergencies when it would be necessary to call 999. This is not however an exhaustive list and common sense must prevail.

General circumstances of an incident reported to the police, when there is or likely to be:

    • danger to life
    • use, or immediate threat of use, of violence
    • Serious injury to a person and/or
    • serious damage to property

Criminal conduct

    • the crime is, or likely to be serious and in progress
    • an offender has just been disturbed at the scene
    • an offender has been detained and poses, or is likely to pose, a risk to other people

Road traffic accident

    • involves, or is likely to involve, serious personal injury
    • the road is blocked or there is a dangerous or excessive build up of traffic.

If you don't require an emergency response, you can contact your local police force via 101.

The SMS Emergency (e-SMS) service is provided for people who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired, as an alternative option for contacting an emergency 999 service. You must register your mobile phone on the e-SMS website to be able to use this text service, please see the link in related information for details on how to register.


Police officers, including special constables from England and Wales, have the power of arrest throughout England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (subject to certain conditions) and the adjacent United Kingdom waters (sea and other waters within the seaward limits of the territorial sea).

Cross border arrests and operations are often conducted in co-operation with the force involved.


Every operational incident reported to the police is 'logged' and recorded on a computer as a unique record of that event.

Details of the incident, the victim/caller and relevant address are entered in the first instance along with the time and date. A unique number is created which is often given to people so that, if they ring up, the call handler can quickly find the log.

As the incident progresses fresh entries are made at each stage - officer attending, people taken to hospital, descriptions of persons wanted etc. along with the time and date.

The log is usually closed when the police presence at the scene has ended and the matter has been concluded or carried forward as a crime/road accident report (or one of several other type of reports depending on the incident).


The police service does record all 999 calls. They are recorded so that they can be played back if clarification is needed and are sometimes used as evidence in court cases.  No warning is given that the calls are recorded as this would obviously cause delay in an emergency situation.

Most forces do record the majority of calls that are received in call centres.  A warning is sometimes given at the time of the call and sometimes not as this again may delay the despatch of officers and will vary depending on force policy.  The warnings are sometimes placed on adverts in phone books or online police force websites. 


The following advice is for anyone who feels vulnerable were he/she to stop. In many cases there may be several of you in the vehicle or you may be confident you can deal with the situation, in which case this advice may not apply to you.

An unmarked police car can stop vehicles but in order to comply with the provisions of the law, it must contain a constable who is in uniform. Failing to stop for a constable in uniform is an offence. In cases where a driver failed to stop and drove to the nearest police station/place of safety etc. before stopping because they were unsure of whether they were being asked to stop by a genuine police officer, if the police took action, it would ultimately be a matter for a court to decide whether they had committed an offence.

If a car flashing for you to pull over or stop is unmarked, unless you are certain it is the police, do not stop. Drive steadily to the nearest public place e.g. a petrol station where they are open till late, a police station or somewhere there are a lot of people, and then stop. If you are in a relatively deserted area, as a last resort, consider looking for a house that is obviously occupied and pull into the driveway. You can always apologise to the householder afterwards.

Try and signal that you have acknowledged the request to stop and indicate the action you are taking (put your flashers on or signal by pointing from the driver's window etc.). Don't drive off at great speed making the police think you are trying to get away.

Keep the doors locked until you are happy it is the police and have your mobile phone to hand just in case. You can ask to see the police officer's warrant card, which should carry their name and photograph, through the closed window.

Incidentally, if you are suspected of drink/drug driving none of these actions would invalidate an officer giving you a preliminary test, as you have only temporarily interrupted your journey and are still driving for the purposes of that law.


There are certain types of events that require the organiser to notify the police in advance of the event. The requirements are that if a public procession is intended to,

  • demonstrate support for or opposition to the views or actions of any person or body of persons;
  • publicise a cause or campaign, or
  • mark or commemorate an event

then advance notice must be given unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so. The notice must specify,

  • the date when it is intended to hold the procession,
  • the time when it is intended to start it,
  • its proposed route, and
  • the name and address of the person (or one of the persons) proposing to organise it.

It must be delivered at least 6 days before the event.

If the event is not classed as a public procession it might be still worthwhile contacting your local police force to inform them of the event in any case.

Please see the links in Related Information for further guidance.


Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) work within the community and were introduced to increase a police presence on the streets. The role of a PCSO is varied but will primarily involve interaction with the public and assisting police officers at scenes of crimes and incidents.

PCSOs play a vital role in the community as many people feel more comfortable talking to a PCSOs rather than police officers and they can offer crime prevention advice and play an important role in preventing anti-social behaviour.

PCSOs do not have the same powers as police officers but depending on which force they work in there are various powers that can be given to them, dealing with offences such as parking, littering and confiscation of alcohol, amongst others.


A police officer can exercise most of their powers all the time (those times where an officer is required to be in uniform are limited).

As soon as a police officer exercises any of their powers then they are classed as being on duty.


A police officer does not have to be in uniform to make an arrest. There are some powers that a police officer must be in uniform to exercise but that does not mean that the officer must be wearing a hat, only that they can be clearly identified as a police officer from their clothing.


There are websites that will help, such as All Police Jobs

We cannot speak for every site, of course, but this one has about 15,000 jobs for sworn officers, police staff and PCSOs. It would also be of interest to anyone thinking of a PCSO or police staff job for the first time.

See Related Information for a link to the site, but don't forget that there are others as well.


Please see the link in Related Information. Although the information is provided by the Metropolitan Police it is general information that is relevant to anyone who has suffered a bereavement.


Many police forces do now offer a service whereby they email members of the public to inform them of any known scams that are currently circulating. The name of the service varies from force to force with some referring to it as 'Alert' or 'Community Messaging.' These will appear under that force's messaging system rather than as a direct email from the Police.

Before circulating messages, even with good intent, it is worth 'googling' it as you are likely to easily identify those messages that are a hoax or scam.

It is important to remember that not all emails will be genuine and it is recommended that, if you do receive one, you check with the police force directly (via 101) who will be able to confirm whether or not it is a scam. If it is a scam email, you can report it directly to the Action Fraud website. Please see the links in related information.


The Policing Pledge is an agreement between the police and the public and is part of a programme of radical reform to change the relationship between the public, police and Government.

It contains clear commitments for all forces and outlines the way any issues should be dealt with. It informs the public of its aim to provide each person access to the same level of support and service when it comes to policing. In turn it gives communities a stronger voice in setting local police priorities. It is a national standard that people can expect from their neighbourhood policing team.

Each police force will produce their own version of the pledge, go to your local police force's website to see their version.


Basic eligibility requirements are the same for Special Constables as they are for Police Officers; you must be 18 and there is no upper age limit, although you will need to be reasonably fit and in good health. In addition to this:

  • there are no minimum or maximum height requirements.
  • there is no formal educational requirement, but you will have to pass various written tests which include scenarios.
  • only applications from member states of the European Economic Area (EEA), or other nationals who have leave to enter or remain in the UK for an indefinite period, will be accepted.
  • convictions or cautions may make you ineligible, but this will depend on the nature and circumstances of the offence and how long ago the offence was committed.
  • you will serve a two year probationary period in which you will need to gain the relevant experience and knowledge to be confirmed as special constable.

Further information can be obtained from the website of your local police force, or you can contact the relevant recruitment department of your police force via the non-emergency number: 101.

Please see the website under Related Information for further advice and guidance. 


A Community Resolution is a method of restorative justice and is an alternative way of dealing with less serious crimes and incidents, allowing officers to use their professional judgement when dealing with offenders. It can be used for offences such as low-level public order, criminal damage, theft, and minor assaults, where the victim has agreed that they do not want the police to take formal action.

The use of Community Resolution will enable victims to have quick resolutions and closure to their crime, offenders will receive speedy justice and there will be reduced bureaucracy for police officers. Examples of a Community resolution could include a simple apology, an offer of compensation or a promise to clear up any graffiti or criminal damage.

Community Resolutions do not constitute a criminal record and are not currently recorded on the Police National Computer. They are however recorded locally on police information systems and can be accessed for intelligence purposes. A previous Community Resolution will be taken into consideration if further offences are committed.

Community Resolutions are not disclosed as part of a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) standard check. They might, however, be disclosed as part of an enhanced check for certain offences in the 'relevant information' section, i.e. the offence has a bearing on the kind of work you are applying for.


Police officers are issued with handheld devices that allow them to access police systems when they are working away from police stations, allowing them to work more effectively.

These devices can be used to access, record and submit key information, directly at the scene, allowing officers to carry out a number of processes without having to return to the police station, for example, recording witness statements and completing missing person forms.

These devices enable officers to work more efficiently and spend more time in their local communities, therefore benefiting the police, victims and local communities.


Body worn cameras are visible cameras that officers wear attached to their chest to capture video and audio evidence when attending all types of incidents.

These cameras are used by police officers to support prosecutions and assist the police in protecting their local communities. They are intended to provide better standards of evidence and an accurate record of street encounters (for example, when using stop and search powers), as well as encouraging increased professionalism within the frontline.

They can be used at the scene of a crime to gather video evidence and obtain first accounts from people present, including victims, which can be useful later in collaborating statements. The footage obtained via these cameras can therefore assist in resolving cases more quickly.

Body-worn  cameras are also issued to National Highways traffic officers for similar purposes as those outlined above.

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