Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship
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Earn while you learn with the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA), a three-year programme where you can study for a degree whilst training on the job.
Student officers are assigned to one of our Supported Development Units (SDU), where an appointed Tutor Constable will chart their progress as they alternate between periods of study and working on the front line, putting theory into practice with help from officers and staff. Plus everyone’s in the same boat so apprentices can share experiences and set up study groups.
By the time they’re fully-fledged officers, our recruits will be well prepared to specialise in their chosen area of policing: immediate response, community, road, intelligence or investigation. For those who don’t already have a degree, this is a great way to start a career with Lancashire Police, with a starting salary of £24,177 and university fees paid by the constabulary.
Support for Underrepresented Groups
We offer support (Positive Action) for underrepresented groups (black and minority ethnicities, gay/lesbian/bisexual and transgender) by providing advice and guidance before and during the selection process. See our Positive Action section at the bottom of the page for full information.
Recruits need level 2 qualifications (GCSEs) in English and Maths at Grade 4 (C) and at least two A-Level’s or equivalent level 3 qualification. Run in conjunction with the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), the PCDA leads to a BSc in Professional Policing Practice, with training at our Hutton HQ, UCLan Preston and online.
Check the list of qualifications to understand what you need to before joining.
You can apply whilst waiting to complete your qualification but must have your final result before final offer of employment. You can also apply aged 17 but must be aged 18 before you start.
PC Steph Burrows, 23, began her career at Lancashire Constabulary at the age of 16 after joining our Cadet’s programme whilst studying for her NVQ in Public Services. Steph continued her career at the age of 18 as a PCSO based in Nelson over in the East of the county. Steph said: “I have always wanted to be a Police Officer and am so excited to have achieved this career goal. I was initially inspired by my Grandad who was a lifelong Police Officer and retired as an Inspector. He was very proud of his career with Lancashire Constabulary and it really made me want to follow in his footsteps. Starting at a new station as a new officer was a little daunting but I couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome. Everyone is very friendly, smiley and offers their support which really helps when you are learning a brand-new job.
Commencing the role and learning at the same time has been quite a smooth process for me however I found that I definitely need to make sure I keep focused and dedicated to find the right work life balance. Also, learning to write for a degree level qualification was something totally new to me, however the support from my tutors is there and I am looking forward to achieving my degree in the next 3 years. A particularly proud moment for me was being the first out of my intake to achieve Independent Patrol Status (IPS). I have worked incredibly hard and this felt like a reward for all my efforts.
PC Emma Charlton is proof that you can successfully make a major career change later in life whilst juggling family commitments. The 40-year-old mum of four has already put her ability and determination to overcome obstacles to good use whilst advancing in her previous role at Blackpool Borough Council as a Family Support Worker.
Emma feels her life and career experiences have paved the way for her to join the police, equipping her with valuable, transferable skills. She said: “I was a teenage mum, it’s been hard, but I have four amazing children, three girls and one boy. Applying to be a Police Officer not only seemed the natural next step to learning many new skills, but also a career in which I can call upon my previous experiences.”
During my career I worked closely with the Families in Need Officers and this inspired me to want to become a Police Officer myself. As a Family Support Worker in Blackpool we had police officers on our team, and they were always really friendly. A lot of them were coming towards the end of their career so had lots of different stories to tell. I thought if they can do it, I could probably do it as well. I love to challenge myself and have constantly furthered my education as I’ve progressed, and I eagerly await the new challenges the role of Police Officer will bring.
PC Sean Dixon, 24, is passionate about helping the vulnerable. He previously worked as an outdoor instructor in a special education school and has served in the Parachute Regiment in the Army and as a Police Community Support Officer (PSCO).
To meet entry requirements, Sean gained a level 3 Personal Training qualification, finishing the week before PCDA applications opened. Posted to Blackpool for his tutor phase, he hopes to stay in the resort, working to improve local communities: He explained: “My experience means I take a more sympathetic, problem-solving approach to certain situations, including looking at the bigger picture of why it’s happened and how we can stop it happening again. That fits neighbourhood policing well.”
The PCDA is tough but good. There are certain elements when it all comes at once and you can be finishing a shift at 7am and still have essays to do. But we’re supportive of each other and everyone is sympathetic about the workload. Typically people think ex-army can’t join the police as they’re not qualified, and there is high demand for the PCDA, but I managed it and I’m proud to have got through.
Before joining Lancashire Police, PC Umar Ijaz worked in a solicitors firm, having completed a Master’s in Law. During these studies, he served as a PCSO here at Lancashire Police, therefore he already had an idea of what being an officer would involve – and he really missed helping people in need. “So I jumped at the first opportunity to apply,” Umar said.
I think the best part about the job is the variety of people I meet daily, both members of the public and my Constabulary. I am quite a pro-active person and prefer to keep busy, out and about in the community and talking to people. This is where really great communication skills are needed as I meet so many different people every day. It is such a change from working a 9 to 5 office job, the shift patterns are great and I feel like I get more free time.”
“My family and friends are all very proud of my role as a police officer. They know how much I enjoy helping people in need and it is great that I get to make an impact on people’s lives.”
If I could offer any advice to someone considering applying to be a Police Officer it would be to reach out to an officer on the street. Every police officer I know would be very happy to chat to anyone and offer their advice. If you see me on the streets of Blackburn, come over and say hello!
When applications are open, you are able to complete and submit your form online. The whole recruitment process can take some time as you go through the stages detailed and can take around 7 months. You should look to include as much relevant experience, knowledge and skills as you can within the space provided. Where possible, you should do this using examples of where you have carried out similar responsibilities in your work. If you are unable to provide work examples, you may use instances from other aspects of your life, but be sure to keep them relevant. Try also to use only fairly recent examples, avoiding anything that seems old or outdated.
Simply referring to your skills and experience isn’t always enough. Remember that the assessor does not know you or your capabilities, or how effectively you may perform on a daily basis. All they have to go on is what you say in your application. You therefore need to make sure you really sell yourself, taking every opportunity to fill in any potential gaps in the assessor’s picture of you.
If you find that you don’t have specific examples that will highlight your ability to do the job, do all you can to link the experience that you do have with the role you are applying for. You might also use other examples to indicate your willingness and ability to learn new skills or refresh old ones.
Make sure you read the application form carefully and provide full answers to all the questions. Sell yourself.
The best way to structure your answers and to demonstrate clearly how you meet the criteria is by following the STAR format.
Set the scene
When and what is the example about? What was the scenario situation that you faced?
What did you identify needed to be done? What were you tasked to do? What was your role?
Action / approach
What did you do? Why? Were there options? Why did you select that particular course of action?
How did it go? Was it successful? Why? With hindsight, would you have done things differently?
If your example relates to a specific individual, please retain their anonymity to ensure compliance with data protection.
You can find lots of information and examples on the internet about how to structure a STAR answer for an application form.
Once we receive your completed form, we will check it against our standard recruitment criteria – e.g. convictions and nationality. If you are eligible to work for Lancashire Constabulary, your application will move on to the next stage.
Following the initial sift your application will be assessed by the department to which you are applying. They will check and score your evidence against the criteria as detailed on the candidate specification. If your application is unsuccessful at this stage, we will contact you by email to let you know.
The National Assessment Centre will take place online. There is a huge amount of information on the College of Policing website which can help you understand more about this process. We will inform you of everything you need to know before the assessment takes place so you will be fully prepared.
At this stage you will be invited to attend an interview. This could be face to face or online via Skype.
If your application passes the initial stages we will contact you to arrange an interview. The interview questions will be based around the same criteria as detailed on the candidate specification and will seek to find out how you would perform in the job in question.
We would also suggest visiting other sections of our website for information on our values and force priorities. Sometimes you may be asked to prepare a presentation at your interview (you will be notified of this with your interview invitation).
If you are successful at interview, we will send you a conditional offer of employment together with details of the next steps. This offer will be subject to security, health and reference checks.
Police officers encounter stressful situations, trauma, physical confrontation and work long hours on shifts. You’ll need to be resilient enough to cope with the demands and pressures of police working and be in good health mentally and physically.
After passing the recruitment stages, you’ll need to complete a medical questionnaire and get it signed by your doctor. You’ll then have a medical examination to ensure you meet our BMI and health standards.
Your BMI must be between 18 and 30. You’ll also be asked to provide a urine sample whilst at your appointment, which we’ll test for illegal substances.
We follow the Government’s guidance on police health officer requirements. You can find out more about these and check the list of specific health conditions.
After your medical appointment, you will also be required to have your fingerprints scanned and a DNA sample (mouth swab) taken to check against the national police database.
You must have:
Corrected distance vision of 6/12 or better with either the right eye or left eye.
6/6 vision with both eyes together with spectacles or contact lenses if worn.
Corrected near visual acuity of 6/9 or better, with both eyes.
You’ll need to go to an optician at the medical stage to have your eyes tested and this will be checked at your medical assessment. If you don’t pass the test we’ll be unable to take your application any further. Please note that these are minimum standards and do not guarantee entry into specialist roles.
Information about colour blindness
If your colour blindness is monochrome, you won’t be able to apply. However, mild anomalous trichromacy is acceptable.
Fitness – When it’s time to complete your fitness test we’ll invite you to our headquarters at Hutton, Preston.
Use the information below to help you to prepare for the fitness test. If you’re new to fitness training or are a beginner we recommend that you seek medical advice prior to commencing any exercise programme.
The test we use is the multi-stage endurance test (also known as the bleep test, shuttle run or pacer test). It’s a well-recognised test that gives a clear understanding of fitness level and one that you can practice prior to the assessment to give yourself the best possible chance of success.
If you don’t reach the required level, you won’t be able to proceed to the next stage. But, our assessor may give you the opportunity to try again.
If, after three attempts you haven’t been able to pass then you’ll need to wait 6 months before re-applying.
The fitness test is part of police life. You’ll retake it as part of your training and also take the test every year to ensure you’re maintaining a suitable level of fitness for a service officer.
The multi-stage endurance fitness test is one of the most widely used tests of endurance. It’s also easy to prepare for as all you’ll need is a flat level surface that’s 15 metres long and you can use our training recording or look on iTunes or Google Play for a bleep test training app. If using an app for your practice, ensure it is for 15 metres as some are for 20 metre runs.
What to Expect at the Bleep Test
The test involves running back and forth in a straight line continuously along a 15 metre track. Every time you reach the edge you’ll place your foot on the line and turn, ready for the next bleep when you’ll set off again.
The test is progressive in that the bleeps start off slowly but become closer together so as the test progresses you’ll need to run faster to reach the edge before the next bleep.
The first running speed is ‘level 1’, the second is ‘level 2’ and so on. Each level lasts around 50 seconds, but the number of shuttles at each level increases as the test progresses.
At the end of each level you’ll hear a double bleep and the fitness tester will announce that you’re starting a new level. You’ll need to reach a ‘level 5.4’ rating to pass the test.
You’ll need to meet the following:
Aged 17 or above on the day you apply and must be aged 18 or over upon appointment (we don’t have an upper age limit and value the life experience that career changers bring).
- Not be a member of the British National Party (BNP) or other organisations such as Combat 18 or The National Front.
- If you have a criminal record, this doesn’t mean you won’t be considered. This depends on the nature of your conviction. Please declare any cautions or convictions on your application form. If you don’t you’ll fail vetting due to integrity concerns.
- You must not be registered bankrupt with outstanding debts, have outstanding County Court Judgements (CCJs) against you, or be subject to a current Individual Voluntary Agreement (IVA).
- Tattoos which are offensive, garish, prominent or numerous are not acceptable. Please supply photos and measurements of any tattoos along with your application.
- You can re-attend our National Assessment Centre (NAC) if you failed the NAC within the last 3 months providing you were within 5% of the pass mark. Otherwise you will need to wait 6 months between taking the NAC.
- Residency – You must;
Be a British Citizen, or hold a passport from a full EU Member State. You can also apply if you are a Commonwealth citizen or foreign national who is resident in the UK with indefinite leave to remain.
- You must have lived in the UK for three continuous years, immediately before applying. This is because we need to vet all applicants equally. To do this we need to ensure applicants have a checkable history in the UK. Applicants who cannot be vetted cannot be appointed.
If you live permanently in the UK, you are considered to be a UK resident.
If you have moved overseas and severed major ties to the UK (e.g. closed bank accounts and sold property) you are considered to have surrendered your residency in the UK. This applies to people who maintain bank accounts purely for the purpose of receiving regular payments, e.g. a UK pension.
If you have:
Spent a significant period of time overseas without returning to the UK but with the intention of returning in the future, taken a gap year or similar before or following university, travelled for a year or spent time overseas visiting family then we may be able to consider you. We will need you to provide full details and will consider each case on its own merits. This list is not exhaustive and is a guide only.
If you have been posted overseas as part of your service with HMG or the armed forces you are considered to have been resident in the UK for the period that you were abroad.
If you have been overseas as the spouse, partner or dependent of a member of the armed forces posted overseas then it may be possible to obtain the necessary assurance for us to establish a checkable history. We will consider each case on its merits. The same principle applies to any family members who were also resident overseas as part of an overseas posting, tour of duty or military deployment.
If you have convictions or cautions this doesn’t necessarily mean that we won’t be able to appoint you. It depends on the role you’ve applied for and the nature of the offence.
Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 all police staff applicants have to declare previous convictions and cautions which would ordinarily be considered ‘spent’.
However, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exemptions) Order 1975, provides that if you’re applying for a police staff role you do NOT have to declare any information in relation to a PROTECTED caution or a PROTECTED conviction.
A protected conviction is one where ALL the following applies:
- It is not for a ‘listed offence’* under Article 2A(5) of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975
- No custodial sentence was imposed
- The individual has not been convicted of any other offence at any time
- 11 years or more have passed since the conviction, if the individual was aged 18 or over at the time of conviction, or 51/2 years or more have passed since the conviction, if the individual was under 18 at the time of the conviction.
A protected caution is one where ALL the following applies:
- It is not for a ‘listed offence’* under Article 2A(5) of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975;
- 6 years or more have passed since the caution, if the individual was aged 18 years or over at the time the caution was given, or 2 years or more have passed since the caution, if the individual was under 18 at the time the caution was given.
* Listed offences include serious, violent and sexual offences and offences which are of specific relevance to the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults, and will never be filtered or protected. There is a list of offences which will never be filtered or protected here:
As an applicant, you are responsible for understanding if you have a protected caution or conviction and to complete the vetting form correctly. If in doubt, contact our vetting unit for advice.
Lancashire Constabulary apply the criminal convictions guidance contained in the College of Policing Vetting Code of Practice and associated Authorised Professional Practice (APP) to all police staff applications. We need to reject your application if you:
- have offences that were committed as an adult or juvenile which resulted in a prison sentence (including custodial, suspended or deferred sentence and sentences served at a young offenders’ institution or community home); or
- are a registered sex offender or are subject to a registration requirement in respect of any other conviction.
For all other convictions or cautions we’ll need to reject your application if you have offences where any of the following apply:
- Vulnerable people were targeted
- The offences were motivated by hate or discrimination
- The offences are of a domestic abuse nature
We take particular care where an applicant has been convicted of (or cautioned for) offences of dishonesty, corrupt practice or violence.
We consider each case on its own merits and, whilst you should presume convictions, cautions or other sanctions will lead to your application being rejected, there may be cases where this will not be the case.
There may also be circumstances where you don’t fall within the criteria, but your suspected involvement in crime, or criminal associations make an offer of employment inappropriate.
We run a credit reference check on all applicants. Police staff have access to privileged and highly sensitive information, which may make them vulnerable to corruption, so it’s important for us to understand applicants’ financial situation. Applicants to the police service should normally be free from serious debt or liability and be able to manage existing loans. We place our emphasis on managing debt sensibly.
If you have existing County Court Judgement’s outstanding or have been registered as bankrupt and have not discharged your bankruptcy we’ll be unable to consider your application. If you have been registered as bankrupt and have discharged their bankruptcy debts you won’t be considered until three years after your discharge of the debt. Debt Relief orders (DRO) are treated in the same way as a bankruptcy.
We will consider your application carefully if a credit reference check reveals you have a current individual voluntary arrangement (IVA). We don’t make clearance decisions until we’ve seen evidence that you’ve maintained regular IVA repayments over a number of months. The same principle applies where you have defaulted on accounts.
If you can show you have and are adhering to debt management arrangements you may be considered. We’ll need to see documentary evidence to demonstrate your commitment and adherence to any debt management arrangements and will consider each case on its own merits.
After all of the above has taken place you will be given a formal offer of employment and you discuss start dates for your exciting new career!