Do I need a degree to join the police?

No. We have three different entry routes for police officers – for those without a degree we offer the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA), a 3 year programme of blended learning which will result in you becoming a substantive police officer upon successful completion and your learning will be accredited with a Degree in Professional Policing Practice. For those who already possess a degree qualification (in any subject) we offer the 2-year Degree Holder Entry Programme (the PC – DHEP and the DC – DHEP for those who wish to immediately pursue a career as a detective), upon successful completion you will achieve a Graduate Diploma in Professional Policing Practice.

Do new recruits still require A-levels?

No. Candidates applying for the PCDA require two A-Levels or equivalent Level 3 qualifications OR one A-Level qualification (or equivalent) combined with relevant professional experience OR relevant professional experience only. Suitability of your ‘relevant professional experience’ will be jointly assessed by TVP and Bucks New University, with TVP having the final decision. A full overview of educational requirements can be found on the PCDA page.

Candidates must have passes in English (Language or Literature) and Mathematics GCSE (A* – C/9-4) or equivalent Level 2 Functional Skills qualifications.

My qualification is from outside the UK, why do I have to go to UK ENIC?

The College of Policing have set strict criteria for the PCDA and DHEP entry routes. Some courses which are studied outside the UK have the same title but do not match the level if studied in the UK. If a candidate has studied outside the UK they must provide a report from UK ENIC which shows whether their qualifications are comparable to UK qualifications. To check whether your certificates are equivalent to a UK one, you will need to apply to UK ENIC who will then provide you with a Statement of Comparability. Please note there is a cost to doing this. Once you have received the result from UK ENIC, you should send that statement to us for consideration and progression of your application.

Do I need a driving licence?

By the time we make you a formal offer for a police officer role with us, you must have a full manual UK driving licence. However, you can obtain that during the recruitment process so you can apply to us with only a provisional, or no, licence.

Does a criminal record stop me applying?

Each application is made on a case by case basis and it is therefore not possible to identify a prescriptive list of convictions and cautions that could lead to a vetting rejection. However, it should be noted that The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 does not apply to police officers.


Why do I need to have Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK in order to apply?

The College of Policing requires that if candidates are not British citizens, then they must be an EC/EEA national, a commonwealth citizen or foreign national with no restrictions on their stay in the UK. This is usually known as Indefinite Leave to Remain/Enter (ILR/ILE) although sometimes as Settled Status. You will be asked to provide a photo of your passport and permit (front and back) at application stage. Then you will need to present your actual card/documents to a member of staff at a later date.


Are ear tunnels permitted?

We will request a colour photo of the tunnels so we can see the size. This will then be assessed on a case by case basis as we need to check for any potential health and safety issues with our training dept.

I have previously passed an assessment with another force NRAC (National Recruitment Assessment) or OAP (Online Assessment Process), am I required to re-do the assessment?

This is something we will consider. On your application form you will be asked for your previous Assessment Centre feedback report. This will then be checked to ensure you met TVP’s pass mark. Please note we can only accept passed Assessments within the preceding 24 months. If the previous Assessment is within date and with the correct scores, then it is highly likely you will not be asked to re-take the Assessment.

When does the fitness test take place?

This happens after you have received a provisional offer and during the pre-employment stages of the recruitment process (along with medical and vetting). Generally you will be asked to complete a fitness test 2-3 months prior to starting on an intake.

If I pass my interview, when am I likely to be placed on an intake?

The overall process takes on average 12 months. On passing your interview you will receive a provisional offer letter and it is then a case of waiting until we have an intake for you, whereby you will be contacted. From interview it is usually about 5 months to your start date.

How often are intakes and are they during term time only?

We generally run at least one intake per month, sometimes more often, although this is dependent on the entry route. This is purely a guide though and can vary depending on the requirements of the Force. Intakes can start at any point of the year and do not follow any academic term times.


How much do student officers get paid?

The starting salary for all new recruits is £26,780 (which includes £2,000 South-East allowance).

What date are we paid on?

This will be the last working day of the month.

Do the students pay university tuition fees?


Will I have to work shifts and weekends?

The police shift pattern will include a combination of earlies, lates, night shifts and rest days. The current shift pattern for uniform officers follows, two earlies, two lates, two nights followed by four rest days.

Where will the learning take place?

The majority of the initial learning will be undertaken at Sulhamstead, the TVP Force Training Centre. However, there are also a number of weeks during this initial learning period that is undertaken remotely, utilising interactive online learning platforms. This blended approach to delivering learning will continue throughout the full programme length, with further online, remote delivered learning during the later stages of the overall programme.

Do I have to stay at Sulhamstead during my initial learning?

Accommodation is available during the week to all student officers who live in excess of 20 miles from the Force Training Centre at Sulhamstead for all parts of the initial training that is delivered in person. Please note that there are limited links to public transport directly to the Force Training centre. Accommodation is not provided for the elements of the initial training that is delivered remotely by way of virtual delivery. It is recommended that all students make use of this free accommodation during the in-house training, however it is not mandatory and students can choose to return to their home address during the training courses. Travel expenses for mid-week commuting will not be covered. It is also worth being aware that the days can be long and tiring and therefore you should bear in mind the additional impact of driving home mid-week. Staying at Sulhamstead also allows students to focus on their programmes of learning without distraction as well as build camaraderie with the other student officers, an essential part of joining the Police family.

How many weeks is the training at Sulhamstead?

Currently, the DHEP 19 weeks of training will be classroom based at Sulhamstead, for the PCDA this is 20 weeks. You will have one week of annual leave during this and one week of annual leave directly after this. Both these periods of annual leave are fixed in time and location within the programme and cannot be altered.

Are we allowed to take annual leave during initial training?

During year 1 – there are four weeks annual leave during year 1, which are taken at fixed points during the timetable and cannot be moved. During the first 19/20 weeks you may be required to work on one or two Saturdays, to accommodate any Bank Holidays. Additional annual leave cannot be taken during Protected Learning Time (PLT) (i.e. periods of training) and also cannot be taken during the 10 weeks tutoring/coached patrol period (weeks 20-30).

During years 2 & 3 – Annual Leave for Students will be subject to the same Policy as for all other Officers, however, as with year 1 you will not be permitted to take annual leave during any Protected Learning Time (PLT). New recruits are strongly advised to book as much of your Annual Leave entitlement as far ahead as possible to ensure you get suitable dates – you will be unable to carry forward more than 40 hours into each year.

Police officers accrue annual leave when they join Thames Valley Police. For federated ranks (up to and including Chief Inspector) the entitlements for full-time officers are:

Relevant service Annual leave

Under 2 years’ relevant service 176 hrs (22 days)

2 or more years’ relevant service 200hrs (25 days)

5 or more years’ relevant service 200hrs (25 days)

10 or more years’ relevant service 216hrs (27 days)

15 or more years’ relevant service 224hrs (28 days)
20 or more years’ relevant service 240hrs (30 days)

Student Officer Probation & Learning

What length of time will the probationary periods be for new students? How will performance be managed in this period?

Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) – probation period of 3 years. The aspiration is for all students to achieve Full Operational Competence at the end of Year 2 and completion of the degree and apprenticeship by the end of Year 3. Learning will be accredited with a Degree in Professional Police Practice.

Police Constable – Degree Holder Entry Programme (PC-DHEP) – probation period of 2 years.  The aspiration is for all students to achieve Full Operational Competence at the end of Year 2. Learning accredited with a Graduate Diploma in Professional Policing Practice.

All performance will be assessed and where required, additional support will be given.

Detective Constable – Degree Holder Entry Programme (DC-DHEP) – as per PC-DHEP above.

What is being learnt within the protected learning time in years 2 and 3?

Continuation of learning within Response Policing at Levels 5 and 6. Years 2 and 3 will include more critical thinking and reflective practice. Protected Learning Time (PLT) has been calculated to best meet operational, student and curriculum minimum requirements.

Will PCDA/DHEP officers be given time to complete academic assignments?

There is sufficient protected learning time (PLT) built into all the PCDA/DHEP programmes throughout the 2 or 3 years in order to successfully complete the course and achieve the relevant qualification. Part of this PLT is reserved for learning (off the job training) to be delivered to the student and part is reserved as independent study time to assist in the completion of the academic assignments. However, students may choose to spend additional time on training outside of these allocated hours.

What happens if a student fails any part of the academic programme or does not reach operational competence?

Students must successfully achieve both operational and academic assessments to move into the next year. Where necessary, extra support and development will be given in relation to any areas that are not being achieved as below. However, if unsuccessful they will not be able to remain with the organisation.

– If relevant to Academic assignments:

There are opportunities for retakes of assignments throughout the 2/3 years and additional support will be provided for those students who require it.

– If relevant to Operational competence assessment:

Independent patrol must be achieved to complete year 1 and pass through into year 2. Full operational competence must be achieved by week 40 in year 3 for PCDA students and the end of the second year for DHEP students.

There are regular tri-partite reviews scheduled throughout the programmes. These reviews will include the student, line manager, DAO and University; they will allow close monitoring of student progress. Development plans will be quickly put in place by the line manager and support will be provided by TVP and the University.

Do students remain on emergency response during their probation?


In the PCDA what is assessed within the End Point Assessment (EPA)?

There will be a presentation of the student officer’s research project followed by a professional discussion. There will also be a professional discussion against the Operational Competence Portfolio. The panel will consist of an independent assessor from the university, along with a member of the academic course team and a representative from TVP.

Can students leave after achieving their degree?

Yes, once students have achieved their degree they can leave the Force. Research from other organisations offering Apprenticeships has shown students as having an increased commitment. We would hope that once student officers have passed their initial entry programme they will be committed police officers looking forward to a career which offers variety, consistent skill development and longevity.

When will students be given laptops, radios and mobile phones?

All student officers will be given a force issue laptop, radio and mobile phone upon arrival at the force training centre at Sulhamstead.

Will serving officers now be required to have a degree?

No. Serving officers will not be required to obtain a degree. These new programmes recognise that the skills demonstrated by serving officers align with degree-level learning – whether they possess a degree or not.

Will students spend time on attachment to different teams and depts as part of their training?

There will be four weeks of attachments to other departments during year 2 and these will include attachments to a Neighbourhood team, CID, Priority Crime Team and the Domestic Abuse team, amongst others.

Support for Student Officers

I completed a degree 10/20 years ago and I am nervous about starting the DHEP programme?

BNU (Bucks New University) and TVP will be providing extra support to students who need it, including those who have not been in a formal learning environment for some time. The BNU Learning Development Unit (LDU) is open to all students engaged in BNU programmes and works with students to develop their academic skills whatever their experience or ability level.