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Police community support officer PCSO, community support officer, CSO

Police community support officers (PCSOs) work alongside the police and deal with minor incidents and offences.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £18,000 to £23,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements. Police services usually place greater value on personal qualities and character, especially:

  • the ability to remain calm under pressure
  • tolerance and empathy

It may also be helpful if you have experience of community work.

Each police force sets their own entry requirements, but you will usually need to take a fitness test and written tests. You may also need to have a full driving licence.

You will need to pass a medical and have full background security checks.

It may help if you've worked as a special constable.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • excellent communication and listening skills
  • the ability to make decisions under pressure
  • the ability to record information accurately

3. What you'll do

You could work alone, in pairs or in small teams. Your work could vary a lot from one day to another, but will usually include:

  • dealing with anti-social behaviour, often working closely with local Anti-Social Behaviour Teams
  • guarding crime scenes
  • offering advice on crime prevention
  • issuing fixed penalty notices
  • detaining someone until a police officer arrives
  • providing support at large public gatherings, such as sports events and public demonstrations
  • gathering intelligence from the community

4. Salary

Starter: £18,000

Experienced: £23,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll usually work shifts, including weekends and bank holidays. Shifts usually cover the hours between 8am and midnight. Some services use a shift pattern rota that operates 24 hours a day.

You will mostly be outdoors, patrolling residential and commercial areas. You may also be involved in giving talks to community groups and schools about crime prevention.

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.

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Last updated: 13 December 2016