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Police community support officer PCSO, community support officer, CSO

Police community support officers (PCSOs) work as part of a neighbourhood policing team dealing with minor offences and helping to prevent crime.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £17,500 to £23,250 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll need a good level of spoken and written English and some police forces may ask for English GCSE at grade 4 (C).

Great value is placed on personal qualities and character, especially:

  • the ability to remain calm under pressure
  • tolerance and empathy combined with firmness

It may be helpful if you have experience of community work or you've worked as a special constable.

Each police force has its own selection process. This will usually involve:

  • written tests
  • an interview
  • an interactive test to see how you work with other people

If you pass the tests, you'll then have a medical and full background security checks.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • excellent communication and listening skills
  • the ability to make decisions under pressure
  • the ability to deal with difficult people and situations
  • accuracy in recording information

3. What you'll do

You could work alone, in pairs or in small teams. Depending on the police force you work for, you could be dealing with environmental issues, transport, security or antisocial behaviour.

Your work will vary from one day to another, but will usually include:

  • going on highly-visible foot and cycle patrols
  • offering advice on crime prevention
  • dealing with anti-social behaviour alongside neighbourhood wardens and community action teams
  • talking with young people and visiting schools
  • building links with businesses and community leaders
  • guarding crime scenes and detaining suspects until a police officer arrives
  • making house visits to reassure people and gather intelligence
  • issuing fixed penalty notices
  • providing support at large public gatherings, such as sports events and public demonstrations

4. Salary

Starter: £17,500 to £19,500

Experienced: £21,500 to £23,250

Salaries vary between forces.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work 37 hours a week on shifts, including weekends and bank holidays. Shifts usually cover the hours between 8am and midnight, though some forces cover longer hours and some operate 24 hours a day.

You’ll mostly be outdoors, patrolling residential and commercial areas on foot. You may also work indoors when giving talks to community groups and schools.

You’ll be provided with a uniform.

6. Career path and progression

There is no formal route from PCSO to police officer, but the training and experience you gain could help you if you want to move into this role.

You could also use your experience to mentor and train new PCSOs.

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Last updated: 24 May 2017