When contemplating the decision to join the police, it’s important to be aware of the police officer pay scales and benefits that different policing providers offer across the country. To help you navigate this, here is a helpful guide to average UK police officer salary and benefits.

Average police officer salary ranges

Police officer salary varies. The different police ranks within the force, such as constable, sergeant, inspector, chief inspector, superintendent and chief superintendent, all receive varying salary and benefits packages depending on the role and external factors, such as length of service, location, and qualifications. For example, police officer salaries in London differ to police officer salaries in Scotland.

The average police officer salary across England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are:

Police constable pay scales:

  • The starting salary for police constables in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is £21,402. The average salary is £26,199, rising to £41,130 after seven years of service.

  • The average salary in Scotland is £26,737, rising to £41,578 after ten years of service.

Police officer salary in London and the south of England also includes a regional top up, with officers receiving additional pay allowances of up to £6,735.

Similarly, Metropolitan Police salaries are determined through a banded pay scale ranging from band G (lowest) to band A (highest). Met police officer salaries come under seven basic pay bands and grading structures:

  • Band G: £22,306 to £22,543

  • Band F: £23,903 to £25,835

  • Band E: £26,611 to £28,604

  • Band D: £30,294 to £32,552

  • Band C: £37,569 to £45,189

  • Band B: £48,997 to £60,115

  • Band A: £67,261 to £77,982

Each year met police officers move up a point on the scale until they reach the maximum permitted in the band. Of course, it’s possible to progress through the ranks and move between bands.

The Ministry of Defence police officers (firearms) are paid slightly differently.

Met police constable pay scales:

  • The starting salary for armed police officers in the UK is £23,541. The average salary is £26,821, rising to £39,074 within six years of service.

Increases in pay are reviewed annually subject to performance and location allowances are also payable at some sites.

How police officer salaries compare to other specialisms

Other specialist roles within the same sector as police officers include firefighters, paramedics, army soldiers, prison officers and security officers.

The average annual salary range for some of the above specialist roles are:

Firefighter:

The average salary for a firefighter in the UK is £31,144.

Paramedic:

The average salary range for a band 5 paramedic in the UK is £24,907 to £31,365.

Army soldier:

The average salary for an army solider in the UK is £23,139.

Prison officer:

The average salary band for a prison officer in the UK is £30,149 to £32,149.

Security officer:

The average salary for a security officer in the UK is £22,749.

Roles and responsibilities

Police officers are expected to uphold the law, while providing a visible presence to prevent crime and reassure the communities they serve in.

On a day-to-day basis, typical tasks undertaken by police officers include:

  • Conducting patrol duties on foot, by car or by bicycle

  • Developing an understanding of the community to identify individuals and locations at risk of being involved in crime

  • Responding to both calls and requests from the public to assist at incidents

  • Acting as a peacekeeper at public meetings, social events, trade disputes or strikes

  • Acting with sensitivity when dealing with difficult situations, such as delivering bad news or when dealing with sexual crimes

  • Conducting initial investigations, gathering evidence, taking statements and complying with legal requirements

  • Interviewing suspects, victims and witnesses in accordance with legislation

  • Preparing crime reports and presenting case files to senior officers, alongside attending court to give evidence

  • Completing administrative procedures, submitting internal crime reports and criminal intelligence reports

  • Enforcing road traffic legislation and issue fixed penalties for relevant offences

Holiday entitlement

For police staff, annual leave entitlement usually depends on length of service. Officers are offered a minimum of 22 days' annual leave, plus fully paid sick leave when they first enrol in the force. When working full time (40 hours per week), entitlement changes depending on service and rank. With less than 2 years of service, officers are entitled to 22 days, while more than 20 years of service sees police officers receive 30 days of annual leave.

Superintendents and chief superintendents receive 31 days of annual leave, which rises to 35 for any rank above chief superintendent.

Police officer pension scheme

A police officer is automatically enrolled on to the police pension scheme and participates in either the 1987, 2006 or 2015 police pension scheme.

The police pension scheme provides police officers with:

  • A pension for retirement

  • An optional lump sum on retirement

  • Special provisions if forced to retire through ill health

To find out more visit the police pension scheme webpage.

Qualifications and training

In order to become a police officer, there are three routes available depending on qualifications and experience.

Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA):

This route, available in both England and Wales, takes around three years to complete. The apprenticeship degree requires a level 3 qualification (A-level or equivalent) to enrol and, once completed, participants receive a degree in Professional Policing Practice.

Degree holder entry:

Graduates with a degree (any subject) can apply for a two-year work-based training programme. The programme is paid for by the police force the graduate enrols in and includes off-the-job learning. Upon completion, those enrolled earn a Level 6 Graduate Diploma in Professional Policing Practices.

Pre-joining degree:

The final route is a self-funded, three-year academic degree in professional policing undertaken at a university or college. Upon completion of the degree, graduates need to apply for a job as a probationary police constable within five years of graduation.

The Initial Police Learning Development Programme (IPLDP), which was the original route into the police service, is still available, but it is slowly being removed.

For details on how to apply to be a police officer in Scotland, see Police Scotland. For Northern Ireland, see Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Professional development

Throughout a policing career, ongoing training, support and guidance is given to ensure officers are fully equipped to do their job safely and confidently.

Additionally, when pursuing a career in the police, continued learning and development is key to progressing through the ranks. Police officers have access to a wide variety of professional training courses and workshops that allow them to improve their skills, knowledge and competence.

A range of activities for policing professionals to manage learning and growth include an assessment and recognition of competence (ARC), a competency and values framework (CVF), career pathway assessments, a professional development review (PDR), and guidance sessions on the criteria of the national police promotion framework (NPPF).

Career progression

Upon completion of a probationary period, there are a variety of career opportunities and progression open to police officers. The police force has a defined rank structure for officers and there are opportunities to progress into more senior roles that include:

Sergeant:

Sergeants are responsible for the first-instance management of incidents of serious crime. They also supervise investigations carried out by their staff.

The average salary range for a police sergeant in the UK is between £43,965 and £46,227.

Inspector:

Police inspectors plan, deliver and monitor operational policing activity. They also direct the deployment of resources to incidents for effective performance.

The average salary range for a police inspector in the UK is between £52,698 and £57,162.

Chief inspector:

Chief inspectors manage large teams of inspectors, sergeants, constables and police staff. They are the most senior operational response officer and manage assigned specialist policing functions that include investigations.

The average salary range for a police chief inspector in the UK is between £58,332 and £60,732.

Superintendent:

Superintendents help lead large areas of command within forces. They assist on collaborations, strategic alliances and partnerships within their area.

The average salary range for a police superintendent in the UK is between £70,173 and £82,881.

Chief superintendent:

Chief superintendents lead multiple large and complex areas of command. Their primary focus is on collaborations, strategic alliances and partnerships, alongside upholding high standards of service throughout all activity within their area.

The average salary range for a police chief superintendent in the UK is between £86,970 and £91,749.

For more information on progression, see the national police promotion framework.

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