Police forces to start recruiting 17-year-olds

Telegraph reporters
·2-min read
Teenagers will be allowed apply to join the police when they are 17 
Teenagers will be allowed apply to join the police when they are 17

The age at which young people can apply to join the police has been lowered to 17 to help meet the Government's pledge to recruit an extra 20,000 officers.

Police chiefs hope that by reducing the age at which people can apply, they can tap into the pool of teenagers weighing up whether or not to go to university and also increase diversity in the service.

It is also thought bringing younger people into the police service could help forces tackle the changing nature of crime.

Senior officers believe school leavers might be more adept at fighting cyber-crime and social media offences rather than older officers who are likely to be less technologically able.

The Government has promised to recruit an extra 20,000 officers by next year, but with large numbers leaving and retiring, more than 50,000 need to join in order to plug the gaps. 

Regulations have now been changed to allow 17-year-olds to apply, although they must be 18 at the point when they actually join up.

The College of Policing said: "Reducing the age you can apply to be a police officer from 18 to 17 means the police service is able to recruit from the biggest possible pool of people at a time when it is looking for an unprecedented number of new officers.

"The restriction on 17-year-olds applying, particularly through the police apprenticeship route, meant the service could potentially have been losing good candidates to other careers." 

With all new non graduate recruits now being put through a degree course as part of their training, many teenagers may see the police as a more affordable option than the traditional higher education route, where tuition fees could leave them with almost £30,000 worth of debt.

The starting salary for a constable is between £18,900 and £23,586 depending where in the country you join.