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a) Policy on Dyslexia

Applicants with dyslexia, who seek an adjustment in respect of the Initial Selection Test or Assessment Centre will be required to submit their most recent report from a qualified Educational Psychologist. 

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b) Vetting

The PSNI’s overarching policing aim is to Keep People Safe through the Policing with the Community Strategy. The Police (Recruitment) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2001 as amended by the Police Trainee (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2008 and the PSNI Vetting Procedures are designed to support and embed this Strategy, to gain the confidence of the whole community in the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Our overriding principle is set within the broader context of PSNI’s purpose and guiding principles to keep people safe. This goal is to be achieved through engagement with the community and our partners and to build a more confident, safe and peaceful society; by keeping people safe and preventing crime and harm to individuals and society; keeping people safe by protecting the vulnerable; keeping people safe by detecting those who commit crime and bring them to justice; collaborating in our decision making and engaging with the community and our partners; being courteous, respectful and fair in everything we do and to be accountable, transparent in how and what we do.

Police officers play an important role in a democratic society, upholding the law and protecting the rights of all its citizens. To carry out this important function they have powers in such areas as arrest; the use of minimum force; carrying out searches; and seizing property. The public, quite properly, expect the highest standards from police officers when they are using these powers. It is, therefore, essential that applicants for police posts are vetted to guarantee they are suitable persons to carry out these and other duties and to ensure that the community at large has full confidence in their police service.

For the purposes of vetting all applicants are required to have a three year checkable history.  All applicants who have spent time in the last three years outside the United Kingdom or Republic of Ireland should be aware that the process for checking will vary from country to country.  Where it is not possible to carry out necessary checks an application will not be processed further.  Applicants may be required to provide a copy of any criminal record held with another country.

If you receive a request for vetting information you will be required to complete the Police Service of Northern Ireland Part 1: Vetting Questionnaire for the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Part 2: HM Government Security Questionnaire including Part 3: PSNI Recruit Supplement. You will be required to complete and return these questionnaires within two weeks of receiving them. If you do not do this it will lead to your application being discontinued.

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c) Vetting Convictions Criteria

(i) Offences Generally

It is not possible to categorise and define succinctly, every criminal conviction which would make an applicant unsuitable for employment in the Police Service of Northern Ireland, however applicants who have any of the following convictions will not be considered further:

  • Any conviction where the sentence imposed resulted in a Custodial Sentence or a Suspended Sentence or a period of detention at a Young Offenders Centre;
  • The fact that a person has been convicted of an offence, has breached a court order, or received a caution as defined by section 126 of the Police Act 1997 (3) may be taken into account, in accordance with any determination made by the Chief Constable in deciding his/her suitability for appointment.made by the Chief Constable in deciding his/her suitability for appointment.

(ii) Motoring Offences

The following applicants will not be considered further:

  1. those who have been convicted of causing death by reckless (or dangerous) driving;
  2. anyone who has received more than one period of disqualification from driving;
  3. until 10 years has elapsed since conviction for any of the following: Dangerous Driving; 'Hit and Run Accident' offences, Drink Driving offences (including drugs), Driving Whilst Disqualified; Taking a Vehicle Without Authority; Vehicle Interference and associated forging or fraudulently altering documents.
  4. permitting any of the offences at (c) above.
  5. until 5 years has elapsed since conviction for no insurance.
  6. until 5 years has elapsed since conviction for two or more convictions for regulatory offences.
  7. has been convicted on three or more occasions arising separately of any other offences under the Road Traffic Orders or any equivalent offences elsewhere within 5 years from the date of application.

(Fixed Penalty Notices may be taken into consideration when the attendant circumstances indicate a blatant disregard for the law).

(iii) Drugs offences

Involvement in drugs including possession of a Class A, Class B and C drugs and/or supplying drugs of any kind.

(iv) Cautions

Where an applicant has received an official recorded caution whether as a juvenile or adult, the caution need not be a bar to selection, but will be the subject of further consideration. The final decision will be based on the nature of the offence and the period which has elapsed since the caution was administered.

Where an applicant has received three or more recorded cautions, the applicant will not be considered further until 3 years has elapsed since the date of the last administered caution.

(v) Convictions or Formal Cautions in Other Jurisdictions.

The criteria used above will include corresponding or equivalent convictions or formal cautions imposed under any jurisdiction.

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d) Vetting Panel

Under the Police (Recruitment) (Northern Ireland) Regulations 2001 the Chief Constable has appointed a Vetting Panel whose function is to decide, on his behalf and subject to his direction and control, the suitability of any candidate for appointment as a police trainee constable.

If during the vetting process there is information that gives cause for concern with regard to an individual’s suitability, the matter will be referred to the Vetting Panel for a decision. If the Panel is of the opinion that the candidate is unsuitable the candidate will be informed of this by letter and told that they may seek, in writing, to have the decision reviewed by the Independent Assessor.

The Vetting Panel will consider the merits of each application, taking into account the individual circumstances, before arriving at a decision. Though not exhaustive the following are considerations that the Vetting Panel will take into account where an applicant has a criminal conviction: the nature and gravity of the conviction(s); the age of the applicant at the time of the offence(s); were all convictions / cautions disclosed; organisational and reputational risk; the extent and nature of the offending; the length of time since the last convictions / cautions.

The Vetting Panel will also thoroughly examine the nature of each offence in terms of the level of dishonesty; deceit; indecency; violence; hate crime; sectarianism; any other recordable offences which would cause concern regarding the confidence and protection of the public.

With respect to Cautions/Disposals and Informed Warnings, the Vetting Panel may treat minor offences committed as a juvenile as less serious than if committed by an adult, provided the offences are minor and there is no indication of any disrespect for the law.

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e) Vetting Policy on Tattoos

Having a tattoo does not prevent you from joining the Police Service of Northern Ireland, but certain tattoos and their visibility will not be acceptable. Potential police officers will not be accepted into the service if they display or obtain a tattoo which could be construed as being offensive to any religion or belief, or is in any way discriminatory, violent or intimidating or contrary to the PSNI guidance on promoting a good and harmonious working environment.

The guidance set out below is intended to assist you to determine whether any tattoo(s) you have would be acceptable to apply for PSNI.

Tattoos, which may lead to rejection, include tattoos that are deemed to be;

  1. Obscene, offensive, lewd, crude, racist, sexist, sectarian, homophobic, violent or intimidating;
  2. On your face, hand or neck;
  3. Are garish, numerous or particularly prominent;
  4. Indicate unacceptable attitudes towards men, women, minority groups or any other section of the community or;
  5. Indicate alignment with a particular group which could give offence to members of the public or colleagues.

The conditions stipulated above are aligned to the professional standards we expect from our officers as reflected in our Policing with the Community Strategy.   

If you are accepted as a police trainee and you already have a tattoo(s) then your tattoo(s) must be covered when on duty and/or representing the Service at public events, (except in those cases where it is necessary as a result of religious/cultural observance). Tattoos on the forearm should be covered by a long-sleeved shirt. If the tattoo is particularly prominent e.g. a full sleeve tattoo, significant body tattoo and would be visible under a white shirt then it is expected the officer will wear a further undergarment to maintain your professional image.  Females with tattoos on their leg or ankles should ensure that they are not visible when wearing a skirt.  If they are visible then females will be required to wear trousers. These standards apply whether you are in uniform or plain clothes.

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f) Vetting Substance Misuse Policy

Constables are involved in many high-risk activities and have high levels of contact and interaction with the public. As an employer the Police Service of Northern Ireland is required to provide a safe working environment and safe systems of working for both employees and those who are not in their employment but with whom they come into contact. This includes ensuring that constables are fit to carry out their duties safely and effectively.

Given the growing problem with substance misuse within our society, the Police Service of Northern Ireland recognises that this is a culture that has the potential to impact upon the Police Service Northern Ireland as an organisation. Misuse of any substance impairs judgement, slows reactions and increases the potential for risk of injury to staff and others. In addition the use of illicit substances provides increased opportunities for compromise through either coercion or inducement, leaving staff and the Police Service Northern Ireland vulnerable and bringing into question the integrity of individuals.

As a result the Police Service of Northern Ireland has introduced a substance misuse policy which includes testing of biological material for history of use of substances listed under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Therefore, all successful applicants will be required to undergo a drug-screening test prior to being offered an appointment as a trainee constable with Police Service of Northern Ireland. The biological material to be sampled as part of the pre-appointment process will usually be hair. The Police Service of Northern Ireland recognises that individuals may, in some instances, have objections based on religious beliefs or medical issues to the use of a particular biological sample. Where this is the case, applicants must inform the Police Service of Northern Ireland in writing in advance of the test date of the particular biological sample material that is objected to, and the grounds for this objection.

Successful applicants will be expected to provide 2 samples of hair of 3cm in length and containing at least 50 -100 strands of hair per sample. This will primarily be taken from the head, however on occasion, armpit or chest hair may be used. Where candidates have concerns regarding provision of three centimetres of hair, or have medical or religious reasons as outlined above, contact should be made in writing to the:

Substance Misuse Manager
Anti Corruption & Vetting
Police Service of Northern Ireland Headquarters, Brooklyn
65 Knock Road

However, you are advised that deliberately attempting to obstruct the process will be treated as failing the test, and no re-test will be provided in these circumstances.

Those who return a positive result will not be offered an appointment with the Police Service of Northern Ireland. This will not prevent applicants from applying for future recruitment programmes for the Police Service of Northern Ireland when advertised. Please note that positive substance misuse test results from a previous campaign may also be considered if the same person makes any application in future competitions. Full details of the testing requirements and procedure will be provided to successful applicants prior to the test being carried out.

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g) Police Service of Northern Ireland Corporate Uniform Standard

A Corporate Uniform Standard has been produced by the Uniform and Protective Measures Committee to ensure that there is a corporate approach to the wearing of approved uniform and equipment. All officers are expected to portray a favourable and professional image of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and maintain a high standard of personal appearance at all times when on duty. The Corporate Uniform Standard will be made available to all candidates who are accepted into training, and they will be expected to familiarise themselves with the contents of the standard and to comply with the uniform regulations contained therein.

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h) Online Learning

Prior to being selected as a trainee constable, potential recruits will be required to undertake and successfully complete approximately 25 hours of eLearning material within 4 weeks. As you progress through this material you will be tested on the content covered in each topic and you must achieve the required pass mark. Some of the topics covered include, Human Rights, The Code of Ethics set by the Policing Board for a police officer in NI and the National Decision Making model (NDM) which is a model that assists a police officer with their decision making process.

Upon entry to the College there is the expectation that students will continue to undertake eLearning and assessments in the evenings and at weekends prior to face-to-face lessons.

In addition, potential recruits will be expected to undertake a further 5 hours of on line learning after attending the Induction Weekend. This material is mostly based upon the first week of training in the College.

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i) Medical Standards and Disability Discrimination Act

(i) The impact of the role

The Police Service of Northern Ireland expects student officers to successfully complete their training course and be deployed as an operational officer. This means they must be fit for the full range of operational duties while working the full range of shifts, including night working. The core of police duties is largely universal, but each Police Service has its own challenges in dealing with local community issues. Constables therefore need physical and emotional resilience to carry out this role. The medical assessment considers if the candidate is capable of carrying out the core duties of a constable in line with the National Guidelines on police recruitment but also takes into account the local policing challenges in Northern Ireland.

(ii) Body Composition Standard

It is expected that candidates will have already been adopting a healthy lifestyle with regard to diet and exercise before the medical assessment. However, you should note that the body composition standard is set at the start of the obese range, so being moderately overweight is acceptable but being obese and aspiring to meet the standard in the future is not acceptable.

(iii) Health and pension

In some instances, candidates may be able to carry out the role currently and for a reasonable period but may have an increased risk of ill health retirement at some point in the future. Consequently, adjustments to the pension benefits with regard to ill health retirement may have to be made, but this is not a bar to recruitment.

(iv) Disability Discrimination Act 2004

Since 1st October 2004, the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 has applied to the recruitment and selection of constables. Any applicant with a disability will be considered individually on their merit. This does not mean that people will be recruited who are not fit for the job. Applicants will undertake a medical examination. Consultation will take place with any individual who has an impairment that might prevent them from undertaking the role of constable and consideration will be given to whether there are reasonable adjustments that can be made to enable them to do the job now and for a reasonable time.

(v) Some Key Medical Standards

  • Binocular vision 6/6 aided or unaided (have a visual acuity of at least 6/7.5 in best eye and at least 6/12 or better in other eye)
  • Unaided acuity 6/36 binocularly
  • Near vision N6 aided or unaided
  • Normal visual fields
  • Severe colour deficiency not acceptable
Body Composition Standard
  • Candidate will not meet the standard if:
  • BMI: candidate's body composition is greater than 30 and
  • Body Fat: candidate's body fat is greater than 5% above the predicted maximum and
  • Examination: candidate appears overweight at medical assessment.

Hearing loss of more than a total of 84 dB over 0.5, 1 and 2 kHz range, or more than a total of 123 dB over the 3, 4 and 6 kHz range in both ears, is unlikely to be suitable. When one ear is affected or when aids may overcome the difficulty, further assessment will be required to identify possible adjustments.

(vi) Assessment

Following the medical assessment you will be considered to be one of the following:

  1. Medically fit, having met the required standards for the role and for entry to the police pension scheme; or
  2. Medically unfit, having not met the required standards; or
  3. Medically fit, but requiring an adjustment in the role which will be considered by the Police Service of Northern Ireland DDA Panel; or
  4. Medically fit, having met the required standards for the role but not eligible for the Police Pension scheme ill health benefits.

(vii) Appeal Process

Details of the medical appeal process will be provided to candidates declared unfit for the role or pension.

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j) Physical Competence Assessment (PCA)

There are many and varied roles within the Police Service of Northern Ireland, each requiring a certain level of physical and mental wellbeing and resilience. In addition, for safety and effectiveness, physical competence is necessary to carry out the role requirements. Consequently, the Police Service utilises the Basic Physical Competence Assessment (PCA) in order to assess potential recruits. 

The Recruitment PCA (2015/2016) reflects the physical operational requirements of a police officer and it comprises a number of activities such as running, crawling, climbing, balancing, lifting, carrying, dragging and weaving. These activities are incorporated into a circuit or obstacle course which needs to be completed three times in 3 minutes and 54 seconds.

You will be required to pass the Basic Physical Competence Assessment (PCA) prior to being selected as a trainee constable and maintain the level of fitness throughout the Student Officer Training Programme and Probationer Training.

The PCA Schematic Diagram can be accessed by clicking on the link below:

PCA Schematic Diagram

You can view a demonstration of the PCA in the video below.

To help prepare for the PCA, please find below an appropriate training plan. We would highly recommend all candidates read and follow this guidance, starting now.

Basic PCA Training Programme

The physical competence necessary to complete the police role also requires a certain level of physical fitness. In order to prepare for the Police Service PCA it is important to prepare well in advance and follow the recommended training programme outlined below.

Warm up & Cool down

Prior to beginning each training session, complete 5-10 minutes of cardiovascular activity, for example, walk, run, cycle, step, row, cross trainer, at a low intensity. Complete static stretches of all major muscle groups and hold each for 8-10 seconds.

At the end of each training session, complete a 5-10 minute cool down at a low intensity followed by static stretches of all major muscle groups. Hold each stretch at the point of mild tension for 20-30 seconds.

Training Sessions

There are five training sessions outlined below which should be completed in this order. You should have two full recovery days per week. Please ensure each exercise is completed with full range of motion and good form. If you are unfamiliar with any of the exercises please seek further advice.

Session One

  • Run - 5km/3mile – keep a note of time taken to complete in order that progress can be monitored. Also, please aim for a pace of 5 min/km.

Session Two

Complete the following sequence three times aiming for maximum repetitions. Keep a note of the number of repetitions within each time period in order that progress can be monitored.

  • 1 minute of Press Ups (modify if needed)
  • 1 minute of Alternate Leg Lunges
  • 1 minute of Sit Ups
  • 1 minute of Burpees
  • 1 minute of Rest

Session Three

  • Run for 2 minutes as fast as possible and rest for 2 minutes (x2)
  • Run for 1 minute as fast as possible and rest for 1 minute (x4)
  • Run for 30 seconds as fast as possible and rest for 30 seconds (x6)

Again, keep a note of distances covered and improvements made.

Session Four

Complete the following sequence four times as quickly as possible.

  • Run, Cycle or Row for 3 minutes
  • 1 minute of Squats
  • 1 minute Plank Hold/Bridge (hold for 20 seconds x3)
  • 1 minute of Press Ups

Monitor progress continually by noting distances covered and number of repetitions.

Session Five

  • Run for 1 minute and then Jog for 1 minute (x5)
  • Run for 30 seconds and then Jog for 30 seconds (x5)
  • Run for 10 minutes at a pace that is challenging but you can maintain

Please keep a note of time taken to complete in order that progress can be monitored.

Further information is available from the Police Service Website: www.psni.police.uk.

The PSNI’s Physical Competence Assessment is also available to view on YouTube.

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k) Induction Weekend

The purpose of the Induction weekend, which will take place prior to you entering the Police Service of Northern Ireland, is to introduce you, as a potential new Student Officer to the training environment at the Police College of Northern Ireland, Garnerville. 

During the weekend you will receive presentations from a number of speakers who will explain aspects of your training and life as a constable in Northern Ireland on a day to day basis.  These presentations include Personal Security, Professional Standards Department, Occupational Health and Wellbeing and the Police Federation (your union). 

In relation to your training in the College you will meet the Sergeant in charge of your course and your Single Point of Contact. These officers will explain what will be expected from you and the support services in place to assist you to complete the 22 week initial training programme. There will also be inputs from trainers attached to Personal Safety and Firearms training as well as Physical and Heath Education (PTIs).

During the weekend you will be measured for your uniform and other police equipment. 

You should find the weekend informative and helpful, and it will provide an opportunity for you to ask those last minute questions you may have before commencing your challenging period of training and subsequent life as a constable in the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

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