The British Transport Police are all about keeping Britain’s railways safe, but if you think all a transport police officer does is wave on trains and mill about in train stations, you’re wrong. Transport police officers deal with a whole range of incidents – from graffiti and theft to fraud and murder.
They are particular experts in public order – this truly is a career that deals with crowds. If you become a transport police officer, you might be overseeing a particularly busy station at rush hour or dealing with the onslaught after football matches.
As well as being in the thick of it, transport police officers do have to knuckle down to some admin and paperwork. Yes, it might seem a bit dull, but the work that goes into admin might mean the difference between a case being thrown out of court or not.
A part of working with the British Transport Police will be dealing with fatalities on transport, so that might be informing bereaved families of the suicide or accidental death of their loved ones, or even (gruesome as it sounds) picking up body parts from railway tracks. It can be a really tough and demanding job, but equally it’s a real opportunity to make a difference.
Salary & benefits
Transport police officers start out on a salary of around £21,000, which rises to £26,000 on completion of training. For areas where the cost of living is high, there is an additional allowance available.
Working in the police service does have its perks. The British Transport Police Force has its own pension scheme, and officers are entitled to free and reduced rail fares for residential purposes. The police service has its own financial services company and some officers will be eligible for Key Worker Housing.
Policing isn’t a nine-to-five job: the British Transport Police Force are responsible for keeping the railways safe and secure every hour of the day and every day of the year. As a result, transport police officers work shifts. If you want to become a transport police officer, you should be aware that you might have to work shifts on weekends, nights, Christmas and New Year.
Overtime is pretty common in the police service, particularly when incidents occurring during a shift require the police officer to stay on for a couple more hours. Work isn’t just concentrated around London and other cities, but the whole of the UK. Consequently, some officers might find themselves working in some pretty remote locations.
The Transport Police Service has a stringent set of criteria for trainees. To start with, they must have the right to live and work in the UK permanently, and have lived in the UK for the last three years. Transport police officers must be over the age of 18, but the service does welcome applications from those just about to turn 18.
Police officers need to be confident, assertive and enthusiastic. They’ll need a good standard of written communications skills (which is where a GCSE in English will come in handy), be excellent team players, demonstrate a respect for diversity and be very resilient.
Wannabe police officers will also have to pass an endurance fitness test, a dynamic strength test and some comprehensive security checks.
Training & progression
Initial training lasts for two years and is called the Recruit Training Programme. This is a mixture of classroom and operational training. There is also another training scheme designed to develop the future leaders of the police service, which is called the High Potential Development Scheme. You might be invited onto this scheme at the time of your appointment, or you might be considered for it later on in your career.
There are opportunities to rise up in the ranks to become a sergeant or inspector. There is also the chance to specialise in a particular area of policing, for example the Dog Section or CID.