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Response policing career pathway

Career stories, working environment and progression in response policing.

Response policing is the term widely used to describe the teams of police officers that respond to emergency and non-emergency calls from members of the public.

Response policing teams are made up of constables and a sergeant with a response inspector overseeing them.

Entry routes

Working environment

Response officers are at the heart of uniformed policing and will often be the first police officer many members of the public come into contact with.

While responding to incidents is their primary role, in doing this they will also:

  • protect the public
  • proactively patrol their communities
  • manage critical incidents
  • identify and obtain appropriate help and support for vulnerable people
  • apply conflict management techniques
  • give emergency first aid  

The response officer needs to be competent in a range of skills and must keep up-to-date with changes in the law and policing.

One of the most important aspects of the response officer role is adhering to the 'golden hour' principles at the start of an investigation.

In this initial hour of a crime taking place, the actions of the response officer are key, as they will be responsible for preserving life and evidence, as well as identifying the victims, suspects and witnesses.

Available roles

Roles in response policing are constable, sergeant, inspector, chief inspector and superintendent.

There are lateral development opportunities too, with many receiving training in method of entry tactics and training to be part of a police support unit (PSU) dealing with crowd control and public order.

By enhancing these skill sets, officers are able not only to do more as a response officer, but also to work in other areas of the force, such as policing football games.

Response officers are also likely to train to hold qualifications in police driving and Taser.

Each response officer will have a unique set of skills that will make them an asset to their team and may also help them branch out into other areas of policing.

Those in the sergeant and inspector ranks will often be the first supervisors at critical and major incidents, often overseeing complex and dynamic situations.

In some forces, inspectors will often be the most senior officers on duty and will be constantly reviewing the demand on their resources, deploying officers effectively and making use of their powers in law, such as granting extra search powers. 

In-role training

  • safeguarding
  • basic investigation (PIP 1)
  • PIP 2
  • assessing risk and vulnerability
  • basic driving
  • standard driving
  • advanced/initial pursuit 
  • officer safety 
  • Taser
  • communication 
  • method of entry

Other training

  • digital media
  • police search adviser (PolSA)
  • tutor constable
  • disaster victim identification
  • public order
  • CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) response
  • achieving best evidence (ABE)
  • initial attendance at sexual offences reports (SOLO/SOIT)


It is likely that every police officer will be a response officer in their career and many will return to response policing between roles.

Therefore, the opportunities for progression are endless. Those seeking promotion will often undertake the duties of a response sergeant, as many of the skills needed for progression into specialist areas start in the response policing world.

Response officers can progress within the role and gain lots of skills throughout their career, or they may choose to specialise in other areas of uniformed policing.

Because of the strong investigation skills needed in response policing, a career as an investigator is also a likely possibility.

It is likely that both new recruits and experienced officers will be drawn to response policing. The opportunities to develop and 'bolt on' skills and qualifications are shown below.

If you are looking at progressing through the ranks, you should read the national police promotion 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.

There are also continuing professional development resources available for response policing.

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.

    Exit routes

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