PCSO, community support officer, CSO
Police community support officers (PCSOs) work in a neighbourhood policing team dealing with minor offences and crime prevention.
Salary range: £17,500 to £23,250
How to become a police community support officer
You can get into this job through:
- an apprenticeship
- applying directly
You can get into this role through a higher apprenticeship as a police community support officer.
To do this apprenticeship, you’ll need:
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship
Volunteering and experience
You’ll need good communication skills, and experience of working with the public in community settings will be useful.
It may be helpful if you have experience of community work or you’ve volunteered as a special constable.
Police UK has more details on how you can get involved.
You can apply to become a police community support officer and often don’t need formal qualifications. Employers will be more interested in your personal qualities and character.
You’ll need a good level of spoken and written English, so some police forces may ask for English GCSE at grade 4 (C).
Each police force has its own selection process. This will usually involve:
- written tests
- an interview
- an interactive test to see how you work with other people
Great value is placed on personal qualities and character, especially:
- the ability to remain calm under pressure
- tolerance and empathy combined with firmness
You can find out more about the role of police community support officer from the College of Policing.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- excellent verbal communication skills
- active listening skills
- knowledge of public safety and security
- customer service skills
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- leadership skills
- negotiation skills
- legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
- be over 18 years of age
- pass a fitness test
- pass a medical check
- pass enhanced background checks
You will also need the right to live and work in the UK without restrictions.
What you’ll do
Your work will vary from one day to another, but will usually include:
- going on highly-visible foot and cycle patrols
- offering advice on crime prevention
- dealing with anti-social behaviour alongside neighbourhood wardens and community action teams
- talking with young people and visiting schools
- building links with businesses and community leaders
- guarding crime scenes and detaining suspects until a police officer arrives
- making house visits to reassure people and gather intelligence
- issuing fixed penalty notices
- providing support at large public gatherings, such as sports events and public demonstrations
You could work in the community or on a patrol.
Your working environment may be physically and emotionally demanding and outdoors in all weathers.
You may need to wear a uniform.
Career path and progression
There is no formal route from PCSO to police officer, but the training and experience you gain could help you if you want to move into this role.
You could also use your experience to mentor and train new PCSOs.