About Police Community Support Officers

Police community support officers (PCSO) are paid, full-time positions with the police. PCSOs can be found patrolling a beat and interacting with the public, while also helping police officers at crime scenes and major events. PCSOs do not have the same powers as regular police officers (they cannot make arrests, interview suspects, or investigate crimes), but they do have a lot of responsibility and are considered valuable members of the local police force. The College of Policing has designed a recruitment process that reflects the skills required by PCSOs.

The College of Policing recruitment process involves multiple steps:

  • PCSO Application Form
  • Assessment Day
  • Background Checks

PCSO Application Form

The first stage of the application process is the application form. In addition to the usual questions about you, your education, and your work experience, the form contains a competency assessment. The answers you provide in this section are used to assess your skills and to determine whether you will be a suitable PCSO candidate. The competency assessment asks you to provide three examples from your recent past of certain types of situations you have encountered. Recruiters are looking for information about how you behave in situations similar to those you may encounter as a PCSO. The best way to approach these questions is to take your time and plan out your answers.


PCSO Assessment Day

The College of Policing has developed an assessment day format which is used by many forces in their PCSO recruitment. The assessment day, known as the Police SEARCH Recruit Assessment Centre, is designed to test you against certain competencies. If your assessment day goes well, you will then need to undergo background and security checks and a basic medical examination.

PCSO Interview

The interview is designed to assess your skills against those required of a PCSO. The interview lasts 20 minutes, and you are asked four questions, with five minutes allocated to each answer. The questions relate to the following competencies:

  • Decision-Making
  • Service Delivery
  • Serving the Public
  • Professionalism
  • Openness to Change
  • Working with Others

You should always provide examples from your previous experience to back up your answers.

Interactive Exercises

You will take part in two interactive exercises at the assessment centre. Each exercise lasts for 10 minutes, split into five minutes for preparation and five minutes to carry out the exercise opposite an actor who will respond according to a set of guidelines.

Written Exercises

There are two kinds of written exercises that the police force may choose from.

  1. You are required to sit two written exercises either in advance or as part of the assessment centre. Each written exercise lasts for approximately 30 minutes.
  2. You are required to have, or obtain, a qualification in written English. Forces can choose the level of qualification required. However, this must be equivalent to a minimum of Functional Skills Level 2 English. 

The force that you are applying to will let you know which method they have chosen to assess your written communication. The first written exercise is for you to write a proposal document about issues at the Westshire Centre. The second written exercise is for you to write a proposal document about an incident that happened at the Westshire Centre.

You will be given a template to follow, which will help you focus your information.


Prepare to Become a PCSO with JobTestPrep

PCSOs use a number of different skills each and every day on the job. The College of Policing has designed a recruitment process that will enable it to identify the candidates with these skills. You need to be prepared for the assessment day in order to pass, and you can do so by practicing, with JobTestPrep in advance.