Fast Track Programme

Are you a graduate, a special constable or a police staff member looking for a rewarding career with progression? Do you have the ambition, determination and vision to accelerate into the senior ranks of the police service?

The Fast Track (police constable to inspector) is an accelerated three-year promotion and development programme which gives the most talented graduates the skills, knowledge and experience to advance to the rank of inspector within three years.

 If you're already a serving police constable, the Fast Track programme can take you to the rank of inspector in two years. For details, see the Fast Track programme for serving constables page.

Although exciting, intense and varied, being a police officer is not a 9-to-5 job. It involves unpredictable hours, potentially long shifts and working in situations with high risk; you will be expected to tackle danger head on while other members of the public turn away. You will have to justify and account for your actions to ensure that you are working ethically, proportionally and to the standards the public expect.

The three-year programme will be a blend of classroom learning delivered at regional training centres, and operational training and development in your local force. Candidates will be supported to learn what it takes to become a police officer and to quickly put that learning into practice.

For more information, see the Fast Track Programme FAQs and the application process as outlined below.

About the roles

Applicants will be required to fulfil the roles of constable, sergeant and inspector during the 3-year programme. Read below to find out what to expect in these ranks.


Constables are at the frontline of the criminal justice system. They are required to deal with crime, missing people, sudden deaths, family feuds, child abuse, community tensions and much, much more. To handle this effectively, a strong ability to engage with a diverse range of people is vital. Constables work as part of a team and under general supervision, but will often operate independently. Their responsibilities include the protection of life and property, the prevention and detection of crime and the maintenance of public order through a range of sworn powers in line with organisational standards.

The role of a constable is a challenging and varied one. The training you receive will assist you to deal with these situations successfully but you will need to be comfortable in dealing with a variety of incidents day-to-day as they occur.  To excel, you will need to be resilient, patient and a strong team player.

This is what officers in the role have to say about their job:

"As a uniformed police officer my purpose is to keep the public safe by solving problems and crimes within a timely manner. Most of my job isn't investigating crime but solving almost impossible problems caused by social and economic issues far beyond my control and influence. It's relentless and the hours are long but the difference a good individual can make is incalculable and real." 

"I have dealt with anything from minor/serious/fatal road traffic incidents, to awful domestic situations, to deaths of people aged from 1 to 95 years old. It requires someone that is not afraid to get stuck in. It requires an element of bravery and also the ability to not take the job home with you. It isn't all doom and gloom, I have dealt with incidents involving the birth of a baby at a property, assisting extremely grateful members of the public during the flood crisis and helping elderly or vulnerable people find the help that they need. The role requires a sense of humour, an ability to deal with incidents quickly, and an ability to deal with anything that comes at you. I absolutely love my job and it would be very difficult if I didn't."

"Being a constable can be one of the most thankless, demanding and unsociable roles within the police service. Yet it is also the most exciting, the most rewarding and the most enjoyable too! Dealing with the public and our partners day in and day out you have the chance to influence our reputation and people's perceptions. You have to be able to deal with any situation, at any time, and in any given set of circumstances. The colleagues you will work with become a unique family to you - a team of paramount importance in working together and supporting each other. There will be exciting foot chases, and boring hospital guards; there will be long hard days standing in the rain, but also unique opportunities you would never otherwise be exposed to; there will be unsociable night shifts and bank holidays when you have to work, and days where you actually save someone's life! Being a police officer isn't easy but it's the proudest thing I've ever done."

"Being a Constable is probably the most challenging role from an operational perspective.  It is the most public facing as your office is the street and the community.  Working in a rural force means that you are often on your own and whilst your sergeant and the duty inspector are available by radio contact, you are the one who arrives at the incident and is expected to deal with it.  The public will look to you to resolve their issues and take control at the scene until the incident is over or until specialist resources or a supervisor arrives.  The level of autonomy and control are immense and only you are accountable for your actions - it is up to you to justify why you did what you did - possibly in a court of law or an inquest some years down the line.  Having said that, there are times when things are very dull - guarding a crime scene in the rain, maintaining constant observations on a prisoner in a cell block or at hospital, waiting for a vehicle to go past a check point for example."


Sergeants are responsible for the general and technical supervision of officers and police staff. They supervise specialised work assignments while ensuring organisational standards are upheld.

As a sergeant, you will be responsible for managing resources, supervising investigations and responses to critical incidents, conducting intelligence-driven briefings, taskings and debriefings and providing leadership for your team.

This is what serving sergeants have to say about their role:

"A sergeant provides key communication between Command and Control and operational policing. A sergeant earns the respect of their team from leading by example serving without fear or favour, ensuring the force meet both local and organisational objectives  and offering value for money, whilst also managing the complexities of crime fighting and Human Resources." 

"When you are a sergeant you are also your staff's welfare officer, duties officer, and HR manager and therefore in addition to policing knowledge you are expected to have a good knowledge of policies and procedures surrounding all these roles. As a sergeant you are the voice of your constables and the link between them and the inspector. This means you need to have a good working relationship with your team whilst at the same time driving their performance and dealing with any discipline or development needs. The qualities you need to be a police sergeant are confidence, good communication, charisma, resilience and time management skills."

"My time as a sergeant was the busiest I have ever had.  I loved being able to help my team, work with them on their aspirations/career development and got great satisfaction when we got good feedback from the public.  I did feel like I was everything to everyone and extremely busy.  I felt proud that I managed to 'hang everything together' on some chaotic days but I genuinely felt like in that role I was making a direct difference to the community and that we had a real value."

"This role is very hands on with your constables with regards to attending more serious critical or major incidents that require a supervisors presence.  As the senior officer at the scene you will be expected to allocate resources and ensure that everyone is performing their role appropriately.  There is also a lot of admin work associated with this role - the sergeant will brief the team, allocate jobs, control workloads, review their officers work, authorise training and leave requests and be responsible for the welfare and discipline of their officers.  The sergeant post is a very autonomous role with complete personal accountability."


Inspectors supervise constables and sergeants. They are responsible for controlling, planning, organising and authorising the work of police officers and police staff in a variety of law enforcement and related tasks, as well as managing specialist functions.

As an inspector, you will be responsible for developing and implementing operational plans for your area of responsibility, identifying and managing operational threats and risks, managing resources, providing leadership, allocating work and monitoring its progress.

This is what inspectors said about the role:

"Like a sergeant an inspector's main role is that of supervision.  However, although your sergeants will be able support you in this, as an inspector you will be the one who is overall accountable for many issues including but not limited to; performance and results, budgets, risk management, major / critical incident management, community impact etc. As an inspector you are your teams leader but still answerable to the senior leadership team."

"The inspector role is a very demanding and lonely one to fill, as although you can normally rely on your sergeants, final decisions will lie with you and it would be rare that you would ever be working closely with other inspectors. Normally you will be the only person of that rank on shift and during night duties an inspector is likely to be the highest ranking officer on duty.  Although there may be support centrally - on a local level you are it, and in charge of everything! An inspector needs to have the resilience and influence to pragmatically balance the expectations and requirements of the senior leadership team with the capacity and welfare of their team."

"As an inspector, I have the challenge of building a relationship with my team so that they work well for me, but staying enough removed so as to be objective and able to deal with issues as they arise. The qualities you need to be a good inspector are a willingness to compromise, pragmatism, resilience, being willing to take advice from others but not being scared to be the one making the final decision and having the overall responsibility."

Throughout the programme, applicants will be expected to work shift patterns and may work wherever needed within the force area, due to the demands of the policing profession. At the same time, they will also need to manage the demands of their own professional development.


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Applicants for the Fast Track Programme must meet the same eligibility criteria required of all other individuals who join the police service, including checks around your financial position, any previous criminal convictions, fitness and membership of political groups. There are some specific criteria relevant to the Fast Track Programme in particular:

External Graduates - applicants must normally hold a 2:1 degree classification from a recognised UK university or overseas equivalent.  In exceptional circumstances a force may wish to support an applicant holding a 2.2. In these circumstances, please contact your chosen force for further information.

Serving Special Constables and Police Staff - at the point of submitting their application form, applicants must be directly employed or sworn into a Home Office police force in England and Wales. Although they are not required to hold a degree, the force must be satisfied that there is substantial and compelling evidence that the individual is likely to be able to cope with the intellectual and academic demands of the programme and that the individual has defined skills and abilities that are in demand within the force and that these are aligned to the force's future success. 

Police Constables - The Fast Track Programme will be opening for applications from serving constables on 20 October 2014. For more information on this two year programme please visit our Fast Track Programme for serving constables page.

To help you, an interactive self-selection questionnaire(2014 version) has been developed to assess your eligibility to join the police service. Please note that forces may have additional eligibility requirements that you may be required to meet, and you are advised to check these with the force that you wish to apply to.

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Application Timeline

Opening of application window:

Recruitment for the first year of the Fast Track Programme has now closed.

Police force application windows will open on 17 November 2014. Stay updated as to when forces in your area are accepting applications via our how to apply section .

National Assessment Centre:

Successful applicants will attend for 2 days between 16 April to 29 April.

Fast Track Programme start:

Successful candidates will start with the service on 28th September 2015.

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National Assessment Centre

If your application to the Fast Track programme is successfully supported by the force you apply to, you will be invited to participate in the College of Policing National Assessment Centre. The aim of the Assessment Centre is to evaluate your:

  • ability to reach, and perform competently in the rank of inspector within 3 years (2 years for serving police constables)
  • potential and motivation to reach at least the rank of superintendent during your service
  • ability to bring new ways of thinking and different perspectives into the police service and to effectively influence the way that policing operates 
  • ability to meet the legislative standards of an entrant into the police service.

You will be assessed over two days through job simulation exercises, a competency-based interview, a presentation and tests of your cognitive ability to evaluate your potential to be successful on the programme. Detailed information about the Assessment Centre will be made available in advance to those candidates who are selected to attend.

The Assessment Centre will be demanding and tough, pushing you to demonstrate your potential across a range of testing policing-related scenarios. This is because we recognise that to create the best police service of the future, we need to recruit the best talent now.

Dates for the 2015 National Assessment Centre will be released in early 2015. A number of documents relating to the 2014 process are still available for candidates to review.

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Training and support

The Fast Track Programme is designed to attract highly talented graduate applicants from outside the police service and equip them with the leadership qualities, operational skills, and strategic understanding required for them to be promoted to the rank of inspector within three years. Candidates will be supported throughout the programme with mentors, supervision trainers and The College.

Although your selected force will take responsibility for much of your training, the world-class learning and development training delivered by the College of Policing will be on hand at various stages of the programme to support you.  You will be supported with:

  • mentors for each fast track candidate
  • tailored personal development plans
  • immersive learning simulating real-life police operations
  • on the job learning with supportive supervision.

The national Fast Track Programme may include elements of residential training.

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Pay, Pension and Benefits

As a Fast Track recruit you will receive a very competitive pay and benefits package. Rates of pay vary by force and rise with each year of experience. Officers in some forces receive additional allowances to complement their salary, for example the London weighting allowance.

Further benefits include an:

  • excellent pension plan
  • a fair and inclusive promotion policy
  • paid over-time
  • a minimum of 22 days annual leave.

For more detailed information on pay and benefits, please contact your chosen force.

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How to apply

The police service is keen to receive applications from dedicated, talented individuals who can demonstrate that they are suitable for this programme.

The information set out above and in the competency framework (2014 version) is designed to give you a sound understanding of what is expected of you as a candidate, and what you can expect from the programme - please take the time to read these thoroughly before you apply.

To help you decide whether you are eligible for a career in the police service, please complete our self-selection questionnaire (2014 version) before you apply, answering the questions as honestly as you can.

To find out whether you are really suited to the Fast Track and possess the potential and strengths required to succeed on the programme, we recommend that you download and complete as honestly as possible the High Potential Development Tool (2014 version) before you apply.

Each police force is responsible for recruiting its own candidates onto the programme. Recruitment will begin in early November 2014. Interested candidates must check the force websites for detailed information on how to apply, as there may be local criteria and other specific requirements to be met prior to application. If you do not comply with these local requirements, your application may be terminated.

The police force listed below will open their application window on 17 November 2014, though application closing dates may vary slightly. Please check with your chosen force to confirm application closing dates.

Avon and Somerset


British Transport Police





Greater Manchester Police




Metropolitan Police Service


North Wales



South Wales





Thames Valley Police

Warwickshire and West Mercia

West Midlands

West Yorkshire

Police forces will review and sift applications, and will nominate candidates who are successful at this stage to participate in the two-day National Assessment Centre. Candidates will be rigorously tested to ensure that they have the right leadership, operational and strategic ability to perform competently in the rank of inspector following the intense development programme.

Candidates who meet the standard at the National Assessment Centre will be notified, and the final selection will be made by the recruiting force. Please note that you will be vetted throughout the application process.

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