Police Training Scotland

Police Practice Papers

scottish police service national fitness standard

All candidates are required to be physically fit. After passing the Standard Entrance Test (possibly immediately after) candidates are required to attempt The National Fitness Standard assessment. This involves either a multi-stage fitness test or a mile and a half run (without stopping) in line with the standards below. The assessment is based on age and gender and measures cardiovascular fitness.

National Fitness Standard






 Age (Years)

 M.S.F.T. (Level)

 1.5 Mile run (minutes)

 M.S.F.T. (Level)

  1.5 Mile run (minutes)






















A word of caution: if a candidate fails to achieve the required National Fitness Standard, their application will be rejected automatically without exception and they will not be able to re-apply for a further period of twelve months.
At the end of the recruitment process a final fitness assessment is made, again based on the National Fitness Standard.
Probationer officers are required to maintain their fitness levels throughout their training. Failure to do so is likely to result in them losing their job.

scottish police

The probationary period lasts two years during which time there is intensive training and progress is constantly monitored. Initially training will be delivered from the Scottish Police College in Tulliallan, and at various Police Scotland Training and Recruitment Centres as well as within Divisions.

As with all other area, candidates should be familiar with the pay scales and grading structure of the job. A word of caution: successful candidates must demonstrate good financial management in their private lives. Any potential area where a police officer could bring the force into disrepute is an area of scrutiny, so aim to minimise any debt burdens prior to application and make sure finances are in order. Once through probationary training, police officers are encouraged to rise through the various police ranks and to carve out a career in specialist areas of police work.

Police officers of all ranks are represented by the Scottish Police Federation with regard to salary, conditions of service and other related matters. Interestingly, Police officers do not have the right to take industrial action (ie strike) or to join a trade union.

The future direction of policing in Scotland is laid out in a document entitled the Scottish Police Authority Strategic Police Plan. Essential reading, it outlines the changes involved in the largest restructuring of Scottish policing in a generation and identifies Police Scotland’s strategic priorities and performance measures. Applicants should have a thorough knowledge of this document as this contains the police vision for the future.

police careers scotland

Candidates applying for the police service in Scotland are strongly recommended to do their homework before they are called for either the SET, fitness test or interview.
Police recruitment in Scotland in 2013 has been virtually non-existent pending the creation of the single force. Any candidates lucky enough to get through the recruitment process would already have been in the system prior to the changeover. The entire Scottish police recruitment process can easily take over a year from start to conclusion. The police don’t generally tend to go in for quick decisions and there is actually an extremely low drop-out rate of officers once recruited.

The Police Scotland website states that recruitment will commence late summer /early autumn this year. This is great news for anyone hoping to join the police force in Scotland in the near future. The recruitment system has been streamlined and standardised across the country, eliminating any anomalies which existed previously within the eight forces. One point to note is that given the single force, new recruits can now be stationed in any area of Scotland whereas candidates previously applied to individual forces who policed their geographical area.

For anyone hoping to join the police force in Scotland, an excellent interim step could be applying for the position of Special Constable. These are part-time volunteers who work alongside regular Constables and who have similar powers to them. Special Constables go through the same recruitment process and receive a high level of training very similar to that of the initial training provided to probationer officers. They are also required to pass the SET and fitness tests.

Once you have successfully secured a position with the Scottish police force, a fantastic career with virtually limitless opportunities lies ahead of you. There is a huge variety of jobs within the force once completed initial training and candidates should give thought to what area of police work they would like to specialise in as they could be asked about this at interview.

police training in Scotland

If lucky enough to be successful at the recruitment stages, you can look forward to commencing your training at the Scottish Police Training College based at Tulliallan in Kincardine-on-Forth, Fife. Tulliallan is the only police college in the UK to offer centralised police training from recruit to command level.

All police training is headquartered here, and the Scottish Police College is a recognised centre of learning excellence. The college offers not only police professional courses but also courses accredited through the SCQF framework. The college has links with universities and other affiliated bodies and offers a wide range of formally recognised courses.

It is here that new recruits joining the police in Scotland will commence their training. The Probationer Training Programme runs for a total of 104 weeks (2 years). Initially new recruits will spend time at Tulliallan College learning what is expected of them in terms of the skills, attitudes and behaviours required of a successful police officer before being allowed to undertake supervised work-based training. Additional study and assessments will continue for the duration of the training period until candidates are confirmed to the rank of Police Constable.

The setting for the Scottish Police Training College is beautiful; within 90 acres of parkland in the centre of Scotland. At the heart of the campus is Tulliallan Castle, built in the early 19th Century. The college is well equipped with a shop, library and computer suite as well as a fully equipped fitness suite, swimming pool and outdoor football pitches. It also contains residential accommodation which can be booked for weekend conferences and accommodation.

Police Entrance Test

Police Entrance Test

Of all the uniformed services, the police service is the most popular. It attracts the most applications and has the choice of the highest calibre applicants. So it goes without saying that competition will be fierce and entrance requirements will be stringent. Anyone who goes into the recruitment process less than fully prepared for the police entrance exam can expect to be rejected very quickly.about

Success in the police recruitment process requires much more than just a pass in the written test. The process starts with the quality and presentation of the application form: how much attention to detail (with exact dates and information) has the candidate presented? If the application form is not up to standard, you may not even be invited to sit the Standard Entrance Test.

Once you have submitted a successful application form, you should then start full preparations for any other part of the process. You might not get much notice for the police entrance exam and you need to be ready for a fitness test to follow immediately after the written tests.

Remember there will be three tests in this order: Language, Number and Information Handling. Each test paper will last thirty minutes and the exam papers are delivered in this order without a break, so that is one and a half hours of intense concentration required across three different test areas. (One candidate commented that he had not been aware of the time frame involved and regretted he had not gone to the toilet beforehand. Since he wasn’t able to give full concentration to the police entrance exam, his performance in the exams was severely impaired. A simple mistake but with devastating consequences).

Information about the background to and marking of the police entrance test is contained within the Guidance Notes and Specimen Papers book, part of the Police Practice Papers range of books.

Police Practice Papers

Police Practice Papers

Police Practice Papers are excellent preparation for the Standard Entrance Test (known as the SET test), the written test element of the recruitment procedure used by the Police Service of Scotland or Police Scotland. The SET test was used by all of the eight police forces prior to the current single force.

The SET test consists of three separate tests: Language, Number and Information Handling. Candidates are required to pass all three papers in one sitting in order to pass the SET. This is a substantial undertaking and should not be underestimated!

While many attempt the police SET test papers, the success (and therefore failure) rates are significant: on average, 40% of all candidates sitting the police entrance exam will fail. 62% of ethnic minority candidates will fail (probably on the Language test paper) and almost unbelievably, 30% of graduates will fail the Scottish police entrance test questions!four Police Practice Papers booklets

There are a number of reasons why the Scottish police test papers are difficult to pass. One is because the exam itself does not fit into the SQA model of exams which most candidates will be familiar with. There are no past papers to refer to, for example, since they do not exist.

The Scottish police force holds a bank of three test papers (A, B and C) which are rotated on a six monthly basis. It is for this reason that candidates are only allowed three attempts at sitting the actual police test papers. This is also why candidates are required to wait a substantial period of time (usually six months) between sittings. Police Scotland recruitment teams will have a record of which police entrance exam papers candidates have previously sat and will amend sittings accordingly.

All SET test papers which have been attempted are shredded by the police recruitment teams immediately. This is to ensure that the actual entrance test questions used by the Scottish police entrance exam are not available to the general public.

So while there are no past papers available, what are available for preparation purposes are the Police Practice Papers. These have been created in the exact format of the police SET test papers and accurately reflect the level of difficulty of the actual Scottish police standard entrance test. The questions in the Police Practice Papers books have been designed to be as close to the actual SET entrance test questions as possible.

A word of caution: the Specimen Paper on the Police Scotland website does not accurately reflect the level of difficulty of the actual police test papers. You have been warned!