Police Control Room Operator
Being a Police Control Room Operator (PCRO) is more than just answering calls, it’s about obtaining and providing accurate information to ensure the right decisions are made to help and keep people safe.
PCROs are predominantly the first point of contact for members of the public wishing to speak to the police. Covering the whole of Lancashire, PCROs deal with all emergency (999) and non-emergency calls (101), identifying risk, threat and vulnerability and grading the incident correctly.
On a typical day, we receive around 600 emergency calls and over 2,200 non-emergency calls. Each call is dealt with on its own merits according to the needs of the caller who may be vulnerable or distressed. On one call you could be dealing with a victim of a serious assault, then providing support to someone reporting a family member missing on the next.
Initial training takes place at our Hutton headquarters. We are currently undergoing an exciting upgrade to our main Hutton control room, and once this is complete our PCROs will work in a state-of-the-art purpose-built environment to help them perform their duties to the highest of standards.
This is a fast-paced role, with a salary of £23,882, working 10-hour shifts as part of a 24/7 team covering weekends and holidays. Patterns comprise two early shifts (7am-9am start), two late shifts (11am-3pm start) and two-night shifts (6pm-10pm start), followed by four consecutive days off.
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.
Before joining Lancashire Police as a PCRO, Police Control Room Supervisor Amy Robinson worked as a dental nurse for six years. However, she wanted to fulfil her ambition of working in public service but hadn’t yet found her calling. Then her Mum spotted a job advert for PCROs on social media and recommended Amy applied, and she’s so glad she did. Amy Said: “I have worked here for over two years now and haven’t looked back since I started. I very recently secured a supervisor role which I absolutely love. Working a shift pattern has worked out really well for me as I get to spend time with family and friends that don’t work the standard 9-5 hours, and an added bonus is I get lots done on my four days off, especially when they land during the week!”
The best part about working as a PCRO is genuinely the opportunity to help people in their time of need. I really like to help solve problems for people and this role is perfect if you are a real people person like me. The variety of calls I receive are huge and are not all crime-related, which quite surprised me. I regularly speak with people for car accidents, road closures, emergency incidents and with other organisations like the ambulance service too. No day is the same here and it never gets boring.
“Every day is a different day and that’s the exciting part about being a PCRO,” said Andrew Kearsley, even though he has worked as a Police Control Room Operator at Lancashire Police for over 14 years now.
“I take 999 calls, non-emergency calls and dispatch Police Officers to incidents. I can come into work and have a serious incident taking place and really get involved with the officers, helping them get the job done. I also mentor new starters when they join the team. We also run special operations including football matches, firearms incidents, police warrants and royal family visits – they are quite interesting to be a part of.”
The job has even seen Andrew on television: “A number of years ago Lancashire Police featured on the TV programme ‘999: What’s Your Emergency?’ I had the odd spot on it and my family all contacted me saying how proud they were.”
The variety of calls a PCRO encounters was quite surprising to me when I began my career here. I deal with incidents from a lost child to someone feeling suicidal. We are a resilient bunch and even though I hear really challenging calls on a daily basis I always finish the day with a smile. If anyone is considering applying to become a PCRO I would say you definitely need to be resilient and a good communicator, it’s key in this job. It is a demanding but very rewarding career.
“My first 999 call was from a victim being threatened with a firearm,” recalled Nadia Macrae. “Due to the serious nature of this incident it was escalated to a number of departments and senior staff members.”
As a former travel agent this was a totally different type of call for Nadia, but it didn’t faze her. “My training kicked in and I was confident I had done everything needed to ensure the safety of the caller” she said. “Something that has surprised me about this role is how much intelligence gathering there is, and the level of responsibility I have when deciding what happens next when a call comes into the control room.”
Adjusting to the PCRO shift pattern wasn’t easy at first – but now Nadia is feeling the benefits: “You receive a 52-week rota when you start so you can really plan your year ahead. In fact I feel that being able to spend time off during the day in the winter months with friends, family and walking my dog has only improved my quality of life.”
I was looking for a career which made a real difference to people’s lives. A friend recommended that I apply for this role and I am so glad they did! There is a great deal of support during the training period and I am really enjoying meeting and working with new people. If I could give one piece of advice to someone considering applying for this role it is to just go for it! As long as you have a genuine desire to help people then this could be a great role for you.
“After working for the council for ten years, I wanted a career which was more fast-paced and exciting,” said Azhar Qadir. “After hearing from a friend that Lancashire Police were recruiting for Police Control Room Operators, I knew it could provide me with the buzz I was looking for.”
Three years on Azhar is happy to report that the job has met his expectations. Dealing with the different types of calls was a challenge at first, but with the help of colleagues and team leaders, Azhar soon got to grips with it: “Within a short space of time I was able to develop the confidence and knowledge to know how to deal with certain enquiries, i.e. whether they required deployment or could be dealt with over the phone.
“One of the calls which stands out most for me is a 999 call I received from a man who was the same age as me who had mental health issues and felt suicidal. I spoke to him for over two hours and managed to convince him to disclose his location so we could get him the help he needed. It really does feel great to make a life-changing difference to people.”
The best thing about working in the control room is being part of a team. Everyone is willing to help and support each other. There are a lot of fun personalities in the room which makes the job enjoyable. It truly does feel like a ‘work family’ in my department. I am part of a team who all support each other and all genuinely enjoy their jobs which makes it a great place to work.
When applications are open, you are able to complete and submit your form online. 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.
You will be invited to attend and complete a psychometric test. This is a great opportunity to gain a deeper insight into your personality traits, your competencies, your style of working, and what motivates you.
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 section of our website for information on our values and force priorities.
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.
A Health Declaration form will be sent to you for completion which our Health Services team will screen. It is imperative that you complete the form accurately and do not withhold any information. In some cases they may need further information (for example from GPs or specialists) and you will be medically pended while this is being obtained. The Equality Act 2010 covers all positions in Lancashire Constabulary . If you have a disability, adjustments will be made if it is reasonable to do so.
During this process you will be required to undertake a Substance Misuse Test and for some specific roles you also have to provide a DNA sample (mouth swab) and have your fingerprints taken.
Before anyone joins Lancashire Constabulary we need to undertake a series of checks to ensure they meet our requirements. As part of this we look into every applicant’s spouse, partner or civil partner, and close relatives including parents, siblings or others living or anyone associating with the person.
To help us to do this we ask you to complete a detailed vetting form and to let anyone whose details you have provided know that they will be looked into as part of your employment checks. Legislative constraints mean that we’re unable to disclose the results of enquiries on third parties.
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.
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.
If your vetting is successful, our vetting team will let the recruiting department know. If your clearance is declined our vetting team will notify you personally of the reason unless there’s a valid reason not to do so. There is an appeal process available if required.
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!