On successful completion of the 23 week Student Officer Training Programme you will commence your first three years as a constable in the PSNI, which will be spent in Local Policing teams. Your first two years will be spent as a probationary constable, with one further ‘commitment year’ to be completed in your district after probation. You will have lots of questions about what is expected of you during this time, so read through each of the sections below for more information. Take a look at the Training at the Police College section to get a flavour of life as student officer at the Training College.
The aim of the Student Officer Training Programme is to develop and inspire:
Want to know what to expect during training? Watch the video below:
No two days will be the same when you are a police officer! Following training you will spend your first three years in Local Policing Teams, where you will keep people safe through your involvement in a wide variety of tasks and activities. You will be responsible for the protection of life and property, preventing harm, protecting the vulnerable, the prevention and detection of crime, detecting offenders and the maintenance of public order. Click on the images below for more information on the different tasks you might be involved in whilst on duty.
This is a big part of your duties in your first three years. You will be expected to conduct proactive patrols in your area and interact with the community. Whilst on patrol you have the opportunity to detect crimes that otherwise may go unnoticed.
"High visibility patrols make up a lot of our daily duties, even visiting areas within your district which get particularly busy or are highlighted as being areas of interest. In my district we had patrols for symbolic buildings due to a rise in vehicle thefts from churches. These types of patrols also mean you get to go to areas within your district which you might not get to as often as you would like." Probationary PSNI Constable
Responding to incidents will be your everyday duty. As a response officer you will respond to serious crimes, vulnerable people and members of the public who are victims of crime. It is important to consider your community issues when dealing with incidents and to have an open minded, respectful approach to different members of the community.
"Responding to incidents is what we do every day in response and by doing it we get to meet people within the community and to engage with the public. By responding to incidents you develop your local knowledge of the district and of the people within the district. This can be great for finding out local community issues." Probationary PSNI Constable
You will be responsible for conducting investigations on a day to day basis; some investigations can be done very quickly and others take months, if not longer. Typically, no investigation is the same, victims react differently to being affected by crime and police have the job of making sure the victim’s expectations are realistic.
"I have conducted many investigations during my time as a Probationary Constable. These include more straightforward investigations such as theft and criminal damage, to investigating Dangerous Driving causing Grievous Bodily Injury (GBI). Investigations take time and careful planning, so we must always try to think if the victim was a family member of yours, how would you like them to be treated and how you would expect Police to deliver results for the victim." Probationary PSNI Constable
Evidence is key for any investigation. When attending the scene of an incident, such as a serious assault, burglary, theft or criminal damage securing evidence will be one of the first things you consider after ensuring there are no dangers to anyone and no injuries. The key to securing and recovering evidence is to seize the evidence as soon as possible and prevent contamination. Packaging and continuity is also really important and even the presence of evidence seized can prove an offence without it having to go for forensic analysis. Continuity of evidence is very important, it is one thing which has to be flawless for court.
"As a first responder our actions are vital as the investigation continues. Suitable securing, packaging and retaining of evidence will ensure it has maximum impact when brought to court." Probationary PSNI Constable
All victims must receive the service they require. Supporting victims can have a real impact upon people’s lives. As a probationary constable you have a duty to update victims regularly, provide them with reassurance and ultimately endeavour to bring them justice for the crimes committed against them.
"This is a part of the job where I think police can really have an impact on someone’s life, even by sitting and having a conversation with someone and making them feel more at ease. I personally did not appreciate the effect that I could have on someone simply by being there to help and being able to offer support. Sometimes you finish a conversation with someone and you may have said one sentence or one small thing which can really reassure or help someone." Probationary PSNI Constable
In court you may be asked about some pieces of evidence or what you saw and heard during an incident. When you have an investigation brought to court, you should be confident that you have explored all areas in order to find evidence to bring the offenders to justice.
"Presenting evidence in court is not as scary as it first seems. Having done it a number of times through my probationary period I have grown in confidence." Probationary PSNI Constable
Managing conflict is something you will find during most shifts, whether this be someone who is slightly agitated or someone that requires physical contact from Police. Simple Police presence can at times de-escalate conflict situations, however on occasions Police are required to intervene.
"This is something which I do all the time, especially on nightlife duties. Sometimes just being there can work but other times you have to get involved in situations which you could have walked away from before joining the police. I have found the best tool for managing conflict can be conversation, but things can change very quickly." Probationary PSNI Constable
As a police officer you have a duty to protect people. In doing that you will be equipped with a range of equipment and skills to support you, from learning how to talk to people through to potential force through use of your personal firearm.
Other personal safety equipment that police officers are issued with include handcuffs, CS spray, batons, body armour and a personal sidearm. Officers are required to be proficient and skilled in the use of all of these and equally in exercising the good judgement that is required before use. Therefore within your first two years you are required to refresh your training, maintain your skills, and to practice exercising judgement in a safe training environment.
A career with the PSNI offers competitive pay and lots of other benefits. Click on the links below to find out more:
Whilst starting a new career is exciting, we know that you will always have questions throughout your lifetime at the PSNI.
Don’t worry, you will have access to many different support systems to help you settle in, and also to support you as you develop your career with us.
You will be paired with a buddy on joining - this person has likely been there and done it, so ask away!
PSNI also has in place the following internal Minority Support Networks – Ethnic Minority Police Association, Women’s Police Association and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans Network. These support networks offer advice and support, internal and external networking opportunities and mentoring to their members and aim to create a working environment where their members feel valued and respected.