Top Tips for Rookie PCSOs

We all know what it’s like starting a new job, with all the uncertainty and expectations, and joining as a PCSO is no different. OnTheBeat101 takes you through what it’s really like joining the force and has some top tips from those who’ve been there themselves.

So you’ve been through the application process, completed endless tests and assessments and passed your interview…. but what next? Many of those who join up are new to wearing a uniform and haven’t done anything like this before in their lives. One such recruit is PCSO Jeanette McLellan, who joined the force in Altrincham, Cheshire in December 2011.


Training varies from force to force, but usually involves a period of classroom training, followed by further training under supervision and then a probationary period.

An example from Norfolk Constabulary is:

18 weeks training period forming part of 1 year probation.

STAGE 1: 4 weeks classroom based training, covering subjects such as patrol duties, crime prevention and first aid.

STAGE 2: 5 weeks patrolling with a Tutor PCSO

STAGE 3: Further classroom training, covering advanced subjects such as legislation, statement taking and interviewing witnesses.
Followed by a further 6 weeks patrol with a Tutor PCSO.

STAGE 4: 15 weeks paired patrolling with another PCSO.

STAGE 5: Probationary period where you are permitted to patrol on your own.
There will usually be ongoing training throughout your career.

From Norfolk Constabulary website

“I remember feeling completely overwhelmed” says Jeanette. “New colleagues, new role, and wearing a new uniform was quite daunting too”.

There’s no need to be worried though, as Jeanette says she was well looked after as a new recruit. “The Police Officers and fellow PCSO’s within my team have been extremely supportive from day one, as have my Sergeant and Inspector.”

After a long, intensive training programme, often lasting for a number of months, you’ll probably be raring to hit the streets for real. However, Jeanette says it’s important to know that life in the role might not be exactly like you learnt in the classroom, so don’t be disappointed if you aren’t out there in the thick of a crime scene every day:

“The role of PCSO varies extensively from division to division, so now I know why the training package was so broad- it has to cover all aspects of community policing.”

“I thought I would be using everything I learnt in training but now I recognise I may only ever get to use a few of the topics we covered”

What about mistakes on the job? Surely working as a new PCSO brings all sorts of pitfalls? “I once pressed the emergency button on my radio by accident” says Jeanette, “which stops anyone else from using the airwaves and tells the radio operators that I’m in imminent danger!”. Fortunately, most teams know that everyone makes mistakes when they first join. “The communications staff were very understanding about it- they were just happy to know I was safe and well.”

“It’s comforting to know you have this kind of support behind you”

So what’s the best way to get ahead in your new job? Jeanette says the trick is to make yourself a key part of the community from the word go.

“Get involved! Introduce yourself to as many of the local residents and businesses as you can- as a direct result of this you’ll soon build up relationships. Your job is to be visible and provide reassurance, so make sure the community know you’re there to help and assist whenever possible.”

Thanks Jeanette – OnTheBeat wishes you the best of luck in your new job!

We also asked our twitter followers for their top tips on joining the force. From keeping a smile on your face to joining your union, the best bits of advice are below: