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Can You Join The Police With A Criminal Record?

Joining The Police With A Criminal Record

Can You Join The Police With A Criminal Record?

So, you’ve finally taken the leap and have decided to start your career within the police force. 

However, there is one thing holding you back from submitting your application: Your criminal record. 

A rewarding and extremely fulfilling career, in order to be appointed as a police officer, every individual must pass the standard vetting process. 

The good news is that it is possible to join the forces with a criminal record. Depending on the nature of the crime, factors such as how much time has passed since the crime was committed and obvious patterns of repeated behaviour will all be taken into consideration.

Honesty is always the best policy and, no matter how big or small, declaring everything about your history is extremely important. And for good reason too! 

After all, your duty as a police officer will be to protect and serve the community. To ensure the protection of the public, the police force must only employ the utmost trusted individuals to carry out their duties to high standards and maintain both trust and confidence between both the public and the forces. 

Read on to discover what police vetting entails and how your criminal record may affect your ability to join the police. 

The Vetting Process

Police vetting is absolutely essential in ensuring that the force employs only trusted individuals to protect the community. Information such as personal details, financial information, criminal history, and information surrounding immediate family members are all of significant importance during the vetting process.  

So, what’s involved and is it an easy process?

Before the interviewing and assessment stages, you will be required to complete an application form outlining previous experience along with additional interview-style questions. 

Along with submitting your application, you will be required to complete a vetting form which will allow the police force to carry out extensive checks on both your background and integrity. 

Once submitted, the force will then conduct their vetting process to establish whether you are fit to become a police officer. 

It’s important to note that, whilst the vetting checks will provide the force with a risk analysis of employing you, they are not judging you as an individual from any past criminal records. Do not let this process sway your decision in joining the police as each case is handled individually. 

What’s checked in vetting?

Information such as background checks on both you and your family members, credit reference checks, Open Source checks, and other Government checks are all part of the vetting process. Let’s dive into what each check entails.

Background checks

A background check will include the following information:

  • Personal information such as name, previous names, date of birth, current and previous addresses, and National Insurance number. 
  • Criminal history, including all previous convictions and ongoing convictions.
  • Motoring offences and other criminal cautions. 
  • Information about your close relatives such as your children, spouse, parents, siblings, and grandparents. 
  • Information on all co-residents.
  • Associations to determine any conflicts of interest.

Credit reference checks

A credit reference check will determine an individual’s vulnerability risk to corruption by allowing the force to understand your financial behaviours. 

A typical credit check will include:

  • Mortgages.
  • Loans.
  • Credit cards.
  • Credit agreements such as car financing, arranged overdrafts, and store credit. 
  • Bankruptcy, insolvency, and debt reconciliation schemes.

Social Media and Open Source checks

These types of checks will reveal personal content on the internet and, more specifically, content that could undermine public confidence.

The following information will be looked at:

  • Public content from all available internet sources such as Facebook and Instagram. 

Government and Overseas Agency checks

The Government and Overseas Agency check includes:

  • Any criminal convictions obtained overseas. 

Joining The Police With a Criminal record

If you have a criminal record, it is important to remain completely honest about your past. Not only will the vetting process reveal your personal, financial, and criminal history, but it will also determine your integrity. Be honest and be prepared to discuss your criminal record!

A criminal record doesn’t mean you will be automatically rejected from joining the police force. Each case is completely unique and will be treated like such.

Factors such as how old you were at the time of the offence, length of time since the offence was committed, and repeated patterns of behaviour will be taken into consideration. 

Depending on the nature of the offence, it is still possible to join the services. An offence such as a minor motoring conviction won’t necessarily hold you back. However, if you are a repeat offender, this will naturally cause alarm bells and may prevent you from joining the force. 

Additionally, any ongoing or outstanding charges will delay your application until the outcome has been determined. 

You may also be wondering why the police force requires information regarding your family and co-residents. 

To maintain trust and confidence from the public, the police are required to uncover any cautions, investigations, and convictions linked to your family members. Information such as the number and severity of their offences and the nature of your relationship with the offender will be taken into account.

It’s important to mention that, whilst this is an important part of the process, it won’t necessarily hinder your application.

Criminal offences which are automatically rejected

Serious criminal offences will not be taken into consideration when applying to become a police officer – and for good reason.

Offences that will result in rejection of your application include:

  • Offences that have resulted in a prison service.
  • Registered sex offender convictions.
  • If you are currently on the Police Barred list or have previously been dismissed from the police service. 

Additionally, the following list will most likely hinder your vetting clearance: 

  • Crimes involving vulnerable people, hate or discrimination.
  • Domestic abuse convictions.
  • Outstanding County Court Judgement (CCJ).
  • Declared bankruptcy within the last three years. 
  • Not meeting the minimum UK residency requirements.

Will I be rejected from the police if I have a criminal record?

Now that we’ve uncovered the police vetting process, you will have a better understanding of what may hinder your chances of becoming a police officer. Whilst a criminal record may affect your application, your history will be looked at on an individual basis depending on the nature of the crime. 

Often a long and in-depth process, it is extremely important the police force hire those of whom they can trust to protect and serve the community – public confidence will always remain a number one priority. 

Tom Brook

Tom Brook

I am a former Police Detective with years of knowledge and experience in investigating serious crimes across Scotland, working with communities and keeping the public safe. I aim to give back to the Policing community with this site!
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