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Neighbourhood policing career pathway

Career stories, available roles, progression and working environment.

Matt Eld – neighbourhood policing

Neighbourhood policing is used to describe the teams of police officers, police staff and PCSOs (police community support officers) that police or support policing within the local community.

The defining features of neighbourhood policing are: 

  • police officers, staff and volunteers accessible to, responsible for and accountable to communities
  • community engagement that builds trust and develops a sophisticated understanding of community needs
  • collaborative problem-solving with communities supported by integrated working with private, public and voluntary sectors

The combination of these features distinguishes neighbourhood policing from other broader policing functions. 

It is an essential part of the UK policing approach that aims to connect our communities directly and seamlessly to specialist policing services at local, regional and national level.

Career stories 

Possible entry routes

The role

Each police force will often work slightly differently, as each community is different. 

Generally, neighbourhood policing teams are made up of PCSOs and constables who are supervised by a neighbourhood sergeant.

Usually, an inspector oversees a neighbourhood policing area, although in some larger cities this may be a higher-ranking officer. 

The focus of neighbourhood policing officers and PCSOs will be linked to force and local priorities. 

While having the skills to engage with communities and work with them and partners to problem-solve local issues is key, the ability to focus attention on targeting issues like serious youth violence and county lines drug dealing is equally important.

For PCSOs, a possible career route is to apply to become a constable but other roles are available too. 

PCSOs are often key intelligence gatherers in the local community. With these skills, PCSOs may want to progress into roles within intelligence. 

Problem-solving is also a key skill of the PCSO, and other staff roles in crime prevention may also be a possible progression route. 

It is also possible to gain more skills as a PCSO and develop within the role. For example, in the aftermath of a critical incident, the role of a PCSO in engaging with the community and providing a two-way flow of information is critical to the investigation and management of community tension. 

For constables in neighbourhood policing, there are many lateral progression opportunities. Constables will often develop skills in problem-solving, partnership working and offender management. 

Constables may be able to add more to their role by undertaking training in:

  • public order
  • method of entry
  • searching
  • tutoring
  • disaster victim identification
  • CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) response 

This will allow them the opportunity to take on additional duties around the force. 

Sergeants and inspectors will likely follow an in-force promotions process that will see them posted into various roles across policing. 

Neighbourhood policing is a great opportunity for those seeking promotion to work with partners such as schools, social services and local authorities, a skill that is valuable in any policing role. 

In-role training

  • offender management 
  • safeguarding
  • basic investigation (PIP 1)
  • PIP 2
  • procedural justice
  • problem-solving
  • partnership working
  • basic driving 
  • standard driving
  • officer safety
  • comms

Other training

Neighbourhood policing guidelines

We have produced support materials on the neighbourhood policing guidelines for frontline officers, staff and volunteers. You may find this useful when considering a move towards neighbourhood policing. 


It is likely that constables will have some experience from other job families before starting in neighbourhood policing.

If you are looking at progressing through the ranks, you should look at the national police promotions framework (NPPF) information. 

It may not be possible to progress through the ranks within a particular job family, as forces may assign newly promoted individuals or those in acting posts, in line with organisational need.

Fast track

The fast track programme for serving constables is a development programme and promotion mechanism to enable the most talented serving police constables to advance to the rank of inspector within two years.

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