The Police Service has many different areas within the profession, which provide a wide range of occupations and career paths. These include Police Officers that can work in many different areas and branches of the force, Special Constables who work alongside the regular Police but are completely voluntary, and the Police support staff such as secretaries, analysts and traffic wardens.
Police Officers work in a wide range of departments, known as ‘branches’. Each branch has a different role or purpose. The extensive number of branches includes:
* Criminal Investigation Department (CID)
* Serious Organised Crime Agency
* National Crime Squad
* National Criminal Intelligence Service
* Force Intelligence Department
* Drugs Squad
* Fraud Squad
* Specialist Operations
* Anti-Terror Branch
* Special Branch
* Royal & Diplomatic Branch
* Firearms Branch
* Traffic Department
* Air Support Unit
* Public Order Unit
* Mounted Police
* River Police
* Underwater Search Unit
* Dog Handlers
* Mobile Police Support Unit
* Child Protection Team
* Youth & Community Unit
* Community Involvement
All of these departments, plus many more, make up the complete Police Service, although not all forces have all the named units. After completing the basic training and working ‘on the beat’ for a set period, constables may prefer to apply to join a specialist unit or department such as the above. Each unit is different in role, purpose and duties, and so there is a wide choice of career paths depending on the individuals’ interests.
The Criminal Investigation department or ‘CID’ specialises in dealing with serious crimes such as burglaries, serious assaults and homicides. Most work is months of painstaking research, surveillance and investigation rather than the action-packed lifestyle seen on television programmes.
The Serious Organised Crime Agency is a brand new unit, which is to be launched in 2006. The SOCA, as it will be known, will be used to combat crimes such as smuggling, money laundering and hi-tech crime, and has already been branded the ‘British FBI’.
The Drugs Squad deals with serious drug offences such as the production and supplying of illegal substances rather than the usage. The Drugs Squad aims to prevent drug crime rather than cure it and launch several campaigns per year in order to ensure this.
The Traffic Department carries out many jobs such as directing traffic, issuing speeding fines, and attending to traffic accidents. Traffic Police Officers are also trained in advanced driving skills to enable them to drive safely in dangerous circumstances such as high-speed chases.
The Air Support Unit consists mainly support helicopters which aid in following criminal travelling at high speeds. Because of this they work closely with the Traffic Department.
Promotion opportunities are also open to Police Officers who have served as Constables for a set period of time. They may advance through the ranks from Constable to Sergeant, Inspector, Chief Inspector, Superintendent and Chief Superintendent.
Rather than becoming a full-time Police Officer, some individuals choose to work for the service part-time as a Special Constable. Special Constables are voluntary and often have full-time careers elsewhere. Candidates apply to the Special Constable division for many reasons including, doing a duty to the community, to gain experience of the service or for physical and mental stimulation. Special Constables are in no way inferior to regular officers and must meet the same requirements in terms of age, eyesight, fitness and character.
Specials have the same powers, duties and responsibilities as a standard Police Officer and although they receive no salary, any expenses are paid for them. Special Constables may choose to join the regular service having gained experience and enjoyment from the work, or choose to apply for promotion within the Special Constabulary. The rank structure starts from Special Constable and advances through Sectional Officer, Divisional Officer, Divisional Commandant, and finally County Commandant.
The Police Service also employs a vast number of support staff including:
* Higher Analyst
* Call Handler
* Call Controller
* Criminal Justice Administrator
* Criminal Justice Manager
* Crime Researcher
* Front Counter Personnel
* Personal Secretary
* Staff Officer
* Lead Staff Officer
* Traffic Warden
* Traffic Warden Supervisor
* Traffic Warden Manager
Analyst and Higher Analysts provide support for police officers by collating and analysing information. They provide intelligence with the aim of detecting and reducing crime and to ensure and enable staff to produce effective information.
Call Handlers and Call Controllers work in the call centres and communicate with officers via police radio or other methods. They respond to calls by informing the officers or units of officers specific to that emergency. The officers notified could be the closest or have the best experience in a particular field.
Front Counter Personnel are located at the front desk of the police station and work like receptionists. They deal with inquiries, answer non-emergency calls and deal with the public, who may be there to report a crime, collect lost property or other matters.
The Traffic Wardens Service ensure the safety of road users and pedestrians, secure that traffic runs freely and make sure traffic laws are not broken by motorists. Traffic Warden Supervisors and Managers control employees and ensure the running of the service.
Police officers are bound to a set list of requirements that they agree to during their application. These are called the conditions of service and are contained in the Police Regulations 1995.
Officers must work a forty-hour week in shift form, which is split into five days work, and two days rest. All officers are expected to work day and night shifts, which are usually of one type each week, (e.g. one-week day shifts, the next week night shifts). If an officer works on a public then he/she is given an extra day off in the future in lieu of that day to compensate for it.
Officers must comply with the Code of Conduct and not behave in a way that may damage the service’s reputation. Officers are also not allowed to take part in politics and must quickly repay debts and respect their own financial issues. Also, police officers may not rent properties. Their spouse or partner may not own a shop or matching business in the area, which the officer’s force is responsible for. Officers, their spouse, partner or any relative living with them may not be financially involved in the licensing of public houses, bars or betting and gaming establishments. They are also prevented from being involved in the regulation of places of entertainment in the area of the police force for which the officer works.
Officers must give their fingerprints and a DNA sample on joining the service. These are kept on database, separate to the public samples and are for purpose of elimination only.
New officers must complete a probationary training period of two years, ‘on the beat’, before they are able to progress into different ranks and departments. During this time the chief officer may terminate an officer’s employ if he/she believes the officer is incapable of performing his/her duties or if the officer misconduct’s his/herself. When an officer’s employment is ended then he/she is given one month’s notice or one month’s salary in lieu.
During the first five years of an officer’s vocation, they are entitled to twenty-two day of annual pay leave which increases with each year spend in the profession. Women officers are entitled to maternity up to a maximum of fifteen months: six months before the birth and nine months after the birth. If is also possible for the officer to return to work, part-time or job sharing after the birth. Officers off work due to illness or injury are entitled to full-paid leave for the first six months of a year they are away and half-paid leave for a second months. If the officer is away for more than twelve months then the process is repeated, e.g. First six months is full pay, the second is half pay. Officers are also entitles to paternity or maternity support leave and leave if they adopt or foster a child.
Officers are regularly tested on fitness tests during probation and throughout their career. Failure to pass them may lead to suspension until they are able to pass or dismissal.
The Police Authority provides uniforms and equipment to officers without charge. Replacement items are also free of charge, and all items must be returned on leaving the force. Police officers automatically become part of the Police Federation upon joining the service. Officers may not join trade unions but, is already a member of one when joining the service, may remain a member with the chief officer’s permission. Officers in the rank of constable or sergeant usually retire after thirty years service or upon reaching the age of fifty-five. Chief officers may increase this age to sixty if they see fit.