Police Vetting [What Do They Check?]

  • Time to Read: 11 min.

Confused by police vetting? You don’t need to be. We are going to take you through what to expect from police vetting. We will go through the types of questions that you are likely to be asked as part of the vetting process as well as give you some of our top tips to give yourself the best chance of passing your vetting.

What Are The Different Levels of Vetting?

There are a number of different vetting levels, what is checked is dependent on the level

Vetting LevelMinimum number of years’ residency in the UK
Recruitment Vetting (RV)Three years
Management Vetting (MV)Five years
Non-police Personnel Vetting (volunteers/contractors) (NPPV)Three years
Counter-Terrorist Check (CTC)Three years
Security Check (SC)Five years
Enhanced Security Check (eSC)Ten years
Developed Vetting (DV)Ten years

As you can see, there are a number of different levels of police vetting, the level of which you may have to undertake will depend on the role that you are applying for.

The level of police vetting will also dictate how often the vetting has to be renewed.   

In the simplest of terms, the further down the list you work from Management Vetting (MV) to Developed Vetting (DV), will see an increasing level of scrutiny of your life.

We will discuss in greater detail below what is checked in police vetting.  

Once in a post within the organisation, you may wish to apply to move into a role that holds a different vetting level. If this is the case, you may be offered a provisional post pending your vetting to a higher level being successful.

Why Do Police Officers Need To Be Vetted?

The reason police officers need to be vetted goes back to the Peelian Principles and policing by consent.

As the police are only effective with the consent of the public, the public is right to expect those police officers and police staff have the highest level of integrity.

Police officers and police staff come into contact with people from all walks of life including vulnerable people.

They also have access to a variety of different police systems as well as information provided to them by members of the public, premises, and assets.

It is due to this that vetting checks that people working for the police are upstanding citizens, and are not susceptible to coercion during their careers.

Why Does Vetting Need To Be Renewed?

Vetting needs to be renewed to ensure that nothing has changed in people’s lives. A lot can happen in life, as we can all attest to. 

Your relationship status may change, your financial status can change, as well as that of your family and friends.

These changes may affect your vetting, in either the positive, or otherwise.

So, Police Vetting- What do they check? 

Depending on the level of vetting that you are undertaking, it will depend on how deep these background vetting checks go.

Roughly all levels of police vetting will look at the same elements of a person’s life;

  • Family
  • Associates
  • Criminal History
  • Employment History
  • Finances
  • Nationality and Immigration Status

Ultimately, the vetting process is assessing people against the Code of Ethics.

Let’s get into a bit more detail as to what police vetting questions may be asked and checked under each of these headings.


You will be asked to list details of family members, including full names, dates of birth, addresses over a period of time (normally 5 years). This is so checks can be completed on them.

Checks are completed in order to ensure that you are not susceptible or vulnerable in any way to extortion or blackmail.


Close associates are checked in the same way as family members above. The reason for checking them is to protect you from exploitation. 

Address History

You will have to provide a history of addresses that you have lived at and anybody you have cohabited at those addresses with.

Employment History

Your employment history for a minimum of the last three years will be checked. If you have been a student for this period, don’t worry, this can be explained on the vetting form.

If you have any gaps in your employment history, you will need to explain why this has been the case.


Your financial circumstances will be considered as part of your vetting.

As discussed above, depending on the level of vetting that you are applying for, will depend on how much you have to disclose about your financial situation.

Normally you will be asked to disclose your current financial situation in terms of savings and debt as well as your financial history.

Debt will include any mortgages, car payments, and any other contracts you may have taken out. 

This will include declaring if you have any Count Court Judgements, see below for more information on this.

You will also be asked about your cost of living, i.e how much you pay for things in your life such as rent, utilities, mobile phone contract, gym membership, etc. 

The reason for these financial background checks is to establish whether the applicant could be susceptible to bribery and extortion.

Can I Join the Police With Debt?

Yes, if you have debt, this will not necessarily prevent you from passing your police vetting, as long as you can prove that you are effectively managing your debt.

Can I Join The Police With CCJs

If you have a CCJ it is not likely that you will be able to join the police. However, if your CCJ has been discharged, this will not affect your vetting status.

Nationality and Immigration Status

In order to apply to the UK police, you must be a British Citizen, or a member of the EC or other states in the European Economic Area.

If you are a Commonwealth citizen, or a foreign national, you must be resident in the UK free of restrictions and have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Criminal Record

Checks will be completed to see if you have previous convictions. These checks will span beyond the force that you are applying to and will be run nationally.

If you have lived in other countries for any length of time, requests may be made to their police forces to check for convictions in that country.

All previous criminal convictions (including cautions) should be declared.

This includes any bind-overs by the court and criminal convictions (including cautions) that were received as a juvenile (under the age of 18 years) will need to be declared.

Previous criminal convictions do not necessarily mean that you will be rejected from the police service.

Each application will be looked at on an individual basis. Further information may be requested from you in relation to the convictions before a final decision is made. 

Are Motoring Offences Considered As Part Of Police Vetting?

Yes, motoring offences are considered as part of police vetting.

Minor driving offences will not necessarily prevent you from joining the police in any capacity.

However, if you are a persistent motoring offender, this is likely to go against you as it potentially indicated a blatant disregard for the law.

Serious motoring offences such as death by dangerous driving, drink driving, and hit and run offences are likely to be looked on less favourably for obvious reasons.

The motoring offence will be assessed against the same criteria as criminal offences;   

  • The age of the person at the time of the offence
  • The nature of the offence – i.e what was done
  • How long ago the offence was committed

If you have motoring convictions, this should not put you off applying to a role within the police, however, you should be realistic about your expectations.

HM Forces Convictions

If you have previously been a member of HM Forces and have received a conviction whilst serving, will need to be disclosed on your vetting application.

The factors that will be considered as part of the review of criminal convictions will be;

  • The age of the person at the time of the criminal offence
  • The nature of the offence – i.e what was done
  • How long ago the offence was committed

What About Outstanding Charges?

If you are due at court or are under investigation for an offence, you will need to disclose this on your vetting application.

If you find yourself in this situation, it is likely that your application will be postponed until after the outcome of the investigation, of the court case.

After it has been finalised, the outcome of your vetting will be considered.


Systems will be checked to see if there is any intelligence about your, family, or associates which would suggest that you are not a suitable fit for the police.

When Will I Get My Police Vetting Forms?

If you are applying to join the police as a police officer, police staff, or a police volunteer you will be sent your police vetting forms as the final part of your application process, before formally being offered a position. This will be after the successful completion of your police fitness test.

Some forces will send this as physical paper copies, others will send you access to an online portal where you will be able to access to fill in your details.

If you are already in a role within the police and are applying for a different role within the organisation, this is likely to be sent to you via your internal email address for you to fill in and return to your vetting department. 

How long do police vetting checks take?

On an average basic level, RV vetting will take around 12 weeks to complete. However, this will be dependent on a number of factors which we will discuss below.

Once you have submitted your vetting forms, they will be reviewed by a disclosure team.

Disclosure officers will then start running checks on the information you have provided. If you have a lot of family, have lived in a lot of different locations, etc, these checks will take longer.

If there are gaps in the information you have provided, this may result in further communication with yourself, which may make the process longer.

Also, please be mindful that if the force is running a particularly large recruitment drive, this time scale can soon increase.

If you are going through the vetting process, please be patient.

If I Fail My Police Vetting, Will I Find Out Why?

If you fail your police vetting, police forces are not obliged to tell you why you have failed. It may be that the police force cannot tell you due to data protection reasons.

An example of this may be that one of your close family is involved in criminality. It may be that you are not even aware of this, however, this could be the reason for you to fail your vetting.

Can I Appeal The Result of My Police Vetting?

Once a decision is made by the respective police force, the applicant can appeal the decision. Each force will have its own appeals procedure and timescales for this.

Grounds for appeal are normally based on the following;

  • An inappropriate judgment or a decision that is not justified or based on evidence
  • An abuse of the recruitment process, including not applying the recruitment policy/ process in a fair and consistent manner
  • The decision is discriminatory on the grounds of disability

Appeals will not be heard for the following reasons;

•    General frustration at not being selected
•    The structure, and content of the selection process
•    Not performing to the best of your ability on the day
•    Disagreement with the awarded scores

Even if the appeal is unsuccessful this does not prevent you from applying for roles in the future with the same police force or a different one.

FAQ’s: Police Vetting – What do They Check?

If you haven’t found your answers to the police vetting process above you may find the answer below.

Police vetting is essential for any person wishing to join the police in the UK. Hopefully, we have taken you through everything you should expect throughout the process. The vetting process is not something to be afraid of, read everything carefully and answer everything that is asked of you honestly.

  1. should you declare a final written warning from your current employer when applying for the police? and if you do declare it, can it go against you?

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