Customer helpline: 0333 030 0446

What Can’t You Do if You Want to Be a Police Officer?

Start my check

Understandably, the recruitment process for joining the police is somewhat more involved than most other types of employment. The vetting process goes far beyond the information which would be revealed on an enhanced disclosure certificate, and prospective officers are asked about their friend and family relationships too. The police vetting process isn’t secretive however, and each Force around the country will put information online about qualifications and other qualities needed to be a great officer. There are some things which will probably see you fail the vetting though and knowing what these are will put you in a better position when deciding whether to apply or not.



You have to be at least 17 years and 6 months old to apply to join the police, and some forces require officers to have celebrated their 18th birthday. Most police forces have also done away with a maximum age for application, but older applicants might think about whether they will be able to pass the rigorous fitness tests. Although apprenticeships are often open to 16-year-olds, this does not apply to the police apprentice scheme.


Criminal Convictions

Having a criminal conviction won’t automatically rule you out from joining the Police, but you will be asked to declare any criminal records when you apply. Most serious offences will most definitely rule you out from joining the police, as could some cautions or reprimands, especially if they indicate a pattern of offending.


Political Affiliations

Police have a ban on people joining the force who have extreme political views. The definition of “extreme” is up for debate but is usually taken as meaning organisations which stir up hatred of other groups, or who have a history of violence or racial hatred.



Police officers are allowed to have a tattoo. Tattoos on the face, neck or hands might cause a problem, but the decision will depend on the size and prominence of any tattoos, and the number of them. Any offensive or overtly political tattoos will probably rule you out, and they definitely will if they aren’t covered by clothing.


Financial Health

Police officers require a credit check style vetting too, in order to assess their financial situation. Police officers who have substantial debt, or who are living beyond their means, might be perceived as a greater risk of being bribed, or open to corruption. Again, having debt isn’t a problem if you are keeping up with monthly payments and not defaulting. Once in the police force, officers have regular vetting of their bank accounts to make sure there are no unexplained amounts going into their accounts.



As with other positions, people applying to work in the UK have to prove they are in the country legally and have the right to work. This entitlement changed recently when the Brexit process removed the UK from the European Union. Prospective police officers should expect to be asked to bring their passport with them to interview, or to submit information about passport numbers with their application.