Why is there a criteria?

Applicants from all backgrounds and ethnic groups are encouraged to apply. Applicants are not limited to any particular age group - in fact, we welcome those who are looking for a career change.

As you'd expect, to make sure we give the best possible service, we're looking for the best possible police officers. That's why you'll need to meet the below set criteria before you can apply.

Close up of police office torso and hand writing to a note book

Application Eligibility Information


Applications can be accepted at the age of 17 but any appointment is from the age of 18.

There is no upper age limit for applying to the police service, but bear in mind that the normal retirement age is 60 years and that new constable recruits are required to undertake a two year probationary period for the DHEP or 3 years for the PCDA.

Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA)

To be eligible for this route you must hold;

A Level 2 qualification in both English language and Maths for example a GCSE or iGCSE at grade 4 (c) or above. International equivalent qualifications are also accepted and welcome, see advice below under “Overseas/International Qualifications Accepted”. Should you not have the Level 2 qualifications, please read the Attaining Maths & English document on our useful documents page about how to obtain this.

In addition you must meet one of the following;

Have a maximum of 2, Level 3 qualifications in any subject(s) that equate to 64 UCAS points (or a full level 4 or 5 qualification) – these points could be from your A Levels, Level 3 Diplomas and International Baccalaureate to name a few. Level 3 (Advanced) Apprenticeships will also satisfy the Level 3 requirement. Please view the linked document to check your level 2 qualifications and level 3 qualifications and UCAS points for some of the most frequently studied qualifications.


Pass a SHL Test (If you do not have a Level 3 qualification) The SHL Test is a verbal reason and calculation test as part of the initial police online application process. This will test your academic ability to Level 3


A serving PCSO, who has been in post for at least 18 months at the time of application and been assessed by line manager as fully competent.


A serving Special Constable who has attained accompanied patrol status at the time of application, who are consistently completing 16 hours per month and are up to date with all mandatory training.

Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP)

In order to be eligible for this route you have to have previously achieved, or be obtaining within the next six months, an Undergraduate or Bachelor's Degree Level 6 with either an Honours Level Degree classification or an Ordinary Degree classification (not in Professional Policing Practice). A Master's Degree at Level 7 is also acceptable. International equivalent Level 6 or 7 (undergraduate degree or masters) qualifications are accepted and welcome (see advice below under “Overseas/International Qualifications Accepted”).

Please note a foundation degree does not make you eligible for this entry route, however you may be considered for the PCDA route should you meet the above requirements.

If you have a degree in Professional Policing you are not eligible for the DHEP entry route. The DHEP is a graduate Diploma at level 6, to ‘convert’ a degree over to policing, for which this is recognised for by awarding a graduate diploma at Level 6. The pre-join degree whilst does not have practical policing elements covers the same theoretical topics as DHEP conversion course.

Pre Join Degree

For this entry you must have achieved a degree in Professional Policing.

International equivalent qualifications for either Level 2 (GCSE grade 4 or grade C pass) in Math and English, or Level 6 (undergraduate degree in any subject) are accepted and welcome.

If you believe you have an international equivalent qualification, you will need to obtain a Statement Of Comparability from UK ENIC (formerly known as NARIC, the UK National Information Centre for the recognition and evaluation of international qualifications and skills).

The Statement Of Comparability costs around £49 (price as at March 2021) and is only required at the Application Form (Part 2 of the application). Therefore, you can apply for your police role without the Statement of Compatibility, and if you pass Part 1 (the Behavioural Standards Questionnaire and Situation Judgment Test online tests) apply for the Statement Of Statement Of Comparability at that time ASAP here and notify the Resourcing Team on your Application Form that you are doing so.

Additionally, the International Certificate in Christian Education (ICCE) is accepted as equivalent to a (Level 2) standard pass in Maths and English, and if you have this qualification a Statement of Compatibility is not required.

We will accept with your application proof supplied by either the original results slip detailing your name, school/college, date of birth, qualification, awarding body and grade, or a bespoke letter from the school/college, providing the same information.

Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police do reserve the right to insist that applicants supply original certificates.

Some schools and colleges will charge up to £120 for replacement certificates, which can take up to four weeks to arrive. We will not reimburse applicants for any costs associated with obtaining this information.

All officers are required to have a full manual driving licence on appointment. You can apply if you have a provisional licence but any appointment is subject to achieving a full licence.

You must not be a member, or have been, of an extreme political organisation such as a BNP, National Front or Combat 18 or similar organisations.

For awareness, political restrictions apply to Police Officer roles and to some Police Staff and OPCC Staff roles. 

Political Restrictions are determined under the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. If a role is politically restricted, individuals in this role are prevented from having any active political role either in or outside the workplace and will automatically be disqualified from standing for or holding elected office.   They are also restricted from canvassing on behalf of a political party or a person who is or seeks to be a candidate and speaking to the public at large or publishing any written or artistic work that could give the impression that they are advocating support for a political party. 

For Police Staff and OPCC Staff roles, political restrictions are stated on the role profile or job description.

You should not have any tattoos which could cause offence. If you have a tattoo you will be asked to provide a brief description and photographs of the tattoo. The nature, location, size, prominence and appearance of tattoos will be considered.

Previous convictions or recent cautions, bind-overs or findings of guilt.

Ideally, you should not have a criminal conviction or cautions.

If you do have one, acceptance will depend on the age and nature of the offence. It is not possible to set out a full list of convictions that will preclude a person from becoming a Police Officer.

Each case will be considered on its own merits, and if the offence is deemed sufficiently serious a person will be rejected irrespective of age at time of offending.

There may be circumstances where an individual does not fall within the criteria, but whose suspected involvement in crime, or criminal associations make an offer of employment inappropriate.

You may apply to more than one force at a time, however you can only sit the assessment centre once within a 6 month period, unless otherwise notified by the force you are continuing your application with.

BMI needs to be between 18-30. You could still apply but will be on hold until within the BMI standard.

If you have previous home office experience and have completed your probation period, you may be eligible to apply via our re-joiner entry route.

Devon and Cornwall Police Re-Joiner

Dorset Police Re-Joiner


It is essential we verify your identify, confirm that you live at the address you have stated and have the right to work in the United Kingdom.

You must be a British citizen, an EC/EEA national, a Commonwealth citizen or a foreign national with no restrictions on your stay in the United Kingdom (UK).

You will be required to provide proof at any assessment centre/interview that you have no restrictions on your stay in the UK and must have been a resident in the UK for three years for the role which requires recruitment vetting and five years for a role which requires management vetting prior to submitting the application form (from the time of submitting the application).

Please note foreign nationality is not an automatic bar to recruitment or to granting security vetting clearance. However, if individuals cannot be vetted in line with National Vetting Policy, their application will not be progressed.

The vetting unit require 2 forms of ID to carry out the required checks. One of these must be a photographic form of ID (valid passport or driving licence) the second for must be proof of your current address (this document must be dated within the last 3 months).

The purpose of the residency criteria is to ensure that applicants have a checkable history in the UK, so that meaningful vetting enquiries can be undertaken.

  • Non-Police Personnel Vetting (NPPV) – three years
  • Recruitment Vetting (RV) – three years
  • Management Vetting (MV) – five years

The residency requirements refer to the period immediately before an application is made, and not any other three or five year period, or any other accumulation of time spent in the UK.

  • An individual who has moved overseas and severed major ties to the UK (for example, closed bank accounts and sold property) is considered, for the purposes of vetting clearance, to have surrendered their residency in the UK. This would also apply to people who maintain bank accounts purely for the purpose of receiving regular payments, for example, a UK pension.
  • An individual travelling overseas on a gap year or similar is considered to be on an extended holiday and has therefore maintained residency in the UK. If the individual stays in one country for longer than 12 months then then they will be required to provide a certificate of good conduct.

If the vetting applicant has been living outside the UK while serving with the armed forces or on government service, they are classed as being resident in the UK.

Reference to members of the armed forces also includes civilian personnel who are accompanying a force as part of a civilian component or equivalent. Where an individual has been overseas as the spouse, partner or dependant of a member of the armed forces posted overseas, it may be possible to obtain the necessary assurance for a checkable history to be established.

The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exceptions) Order 1975 does not apply to any police officer posts, including the Special Constabulary, but it does apply to all police staff posts and non-police personnel, in respect of protected cautions and protected convictions only. Applications for a position as a police officer, special constable and police staff (where that member of police staff may be in the evidential chain) are to be rejected in all cases where offences were committed as an adult or juvenile that resulted in a prison sentence (including custodial, suspended or deferred sentence and sentences served at a young offenders’ institution or community home), the applicant is, or has been, a registered sex offender or is subject to a registration requirement in respect of any other convictions.

At the point of entry into the police service, financial checks identify potential vulnerabilities. It is unlikely that clearance will be granted at RV, MV, NPPV level 2 (full) or NPPV level 3, if the subject has: Existing county court judgments outstanding against them.


Applicants who have been registered as bankrupt are unlikely to receive clearance until three years after the discharge of the debt. Debt relief orders (DROs) are treated in the same way as a bankruptcy.

Individual voluntary agreement

Where an IVA repayment plan is in place, the vetting unit will require documentation demonstrating regular payments over a number of months before making clearance decisions.

Defaulted payments

Where debt management plans are in place, the vetting unit will require documentation demonstrating that the applicant has maintained regular payments over a number of months before making clearance decisions

A right to work check means that the Force will check a document which is acceptable for showing permission to work in the UK. This must be done before employing a person to ensure that they are legally allowed to do the work. If the person has time-limited permission to work in the UK, a follow up check must be undertaken.

Devon & Cornwall Police & Dorset Police have a duty to prevent illegal working by carrying out in-house prescribed document checks on all potential employees and encouraging management to do the same. The Force will prevent illegal working and ensure only the employment of people who have permission to work lawfully in the UK.

For a full list of documents deemed acceptable in determining your right to work in the UK, please visit the gov.uk website.

Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police will obtain the original copies; check the validity of the documents presented and make a copy for retention, recording the date the check was made.