Police Front Counter Staff

The Job and What's Involved

Police front counter staff are the first point of contact for the public visiting a police station.

They deal with callers' enquiries or ensure that they are passed to the most appropriate person or department. They also assist police officers by carrying out administrative tasks.

Their responsibilities vary between police forces, but generally they include:

  • Responding to enquiries from the public and providing advice.
  • Dealing with missing persons, lost property (including pets) and stolen vehicles.
  • Receiving seized or surrendered items, including firearms, knives and driving licences.
  • Dealing with and recording cash transactions concerning fines, warrants, permits and licences.
  • Recording details of crimes and vehicle accidents, and completing reports.
  • Checking and recording details in police computer databases and filing systems.
  • Using telephone, fax and radio systems.
  • Communicating promptly with police officers, police departments and other services.
  • Maintaining security of police premises.
  • Taking routine statements and appearing in court if required.
  • Looking after victims and witnesses and providing first aid in emergencies.

Staff require a broad knowledge of police procedures. They also deal with solicitors and social workers and organizations such as victim support schemes and vehicle recovery centres.

Front counter staff work a 37-hour week in a shift system. They usually work between the hours of 8.00am and midnight, including weekends and public holidays. Some police stations are open round the clock. There are often opportunities to work part time.

It is an indoor job and most of the day will be spent at a desk or the counter of a police station, answering enquiries or using a computer. Most stations can be very busy at times. Travel during the working day is uncommon, except for some jobs that involve working in more than one police station.

Police front counter staff are required to wear a uniform.

At entry level, police front counter staff earn about £15,000 a year. With more experience this can rise to about £19,000.

Counter staff promoted to managerial or specialist positions can earn £40,000 or more.

There are usually additional allowances for shift or weekend work.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Police front counter staff are employed by one of the 43 area police forces in the UK and sometimes by specialist forces such as the Ministry of Defence (MOD) police. Opportunities are increasing, although some are now being taken up by police staff volunteers or, in the Metropolitan Police, by station police community service officers. Each police force is responsible for its own recruitment and training. See individual force websites for general details on police staff careers.

Medical, criminal record and other background checks are usually conducted for security reasons at the interview stage. Although minor criminal offences are not always a bar, applicants must declare all previous convictions.

Most jobs are advertised in the local press and on individual police force websites. Contact details of police forces are available on the National Police Recruitment Team website. Some jobs may also be advertised in Connexions/careers centres and Jobcentre Plus offices.

Education and Training

There are no minimum qualification requirements for this position, though a good level of literacy and reasonable ICT skills are expected. Some forces may require GCSE's (A*-C), particularly English and maths, or equivalent qualifications.

Some previous experience of clerical work, data input or customer service is likely to be an advantage. Experience of voluntary work in the community might also be helpful.

Relevant qualifications include:

  • BTEC First Diploma in public services
  • NVQ Level 2 in public services
  • BTEC National Diploma in uniformed public services
  • The Diploma in society, health and development which may be relevant for this area of work

The entry requirements for a BTEC First Diploma are usually four GCSE's at grade D or above. For a BTEC National Diploma a minimum of four GCSE's at grade A*-C, usually to include English and maths, is required.

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The training for police front counter staff is organised by individual police forces. The length of training varies but usually ranges between three weeks and three or four months. Most of the training is completed on the job working alongside experienced staff. Additional classroom courses may be organised in-force or at a police training centre.

Training covers topics such as:

  • Relevant areas of law (for example, human rights legislation)
  • Discrimination and diversity
  • Customer service
  • Using police computer, administrative and communication systems
  • Data protection
  • Self-defence
  • Handling difficult situations
  • First aid

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Police front counter staff should have:

  • Good customer service skills.
  • An assertive manner and the ability to deal if necessary with aggressive behaviour.
  • The ability to remain calm and think logically in difficult situations.
  • Problem solving and decision-making skills.
  • Good planning and organising skills.
  • Accuracy when completing paperwork.
  • Good team-working and negotiation skills.
  • An appreciation of confidentiality, diversity and data protection issues.
  • The ability to deal with sensitive and contentious information.
  • Good computer skills.

Your Long Term Prospects

Supervisory opportunities for front counter staff may be limited as most police units are small in size. Promotion to a supervisory or managerial position in other aspects of police administration is perhaps more likely.

Staff can also move on to more specialised opportunities such as working for the crime helpdesk, property desk or communications control, or ask for a transfer to another force.

Many forces now offer opportunities in call centres. In some areas there are enquiry centres that are jointly run with other emergency services and local authorities.

For those who are interested it is possible to train as a police officer.

Get Further Information

Metropolitan Police
Tel: 0845 727 2212
Website: www.metpolicecareers.co.uk

Ministry of Defence Police Recruiting Department,
Building 66, MDP Wethersfield, Braintree,
Essex. CM7 4AZ
Website: www.modpoliceofficers.co.uk

College of Policing
Website: www.recruit.college.police.uk

Police Oracle
Website: policeoracle.com

Skills for Justice, Centre Court,
Atlas Way, Sheffield S4 7QQ
Tel: 0114 261 1499
Website: www.skillsforjustice.com

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