British Police Wanted in Australia

'Ello 'ello, what's all this British police are being lured Down Under to Australia by recruitment campaigns launched in the UK

Patricia Curmi finds out why states like South Australia are desperate to employ British police officers.

Amidst proposals by the British government to merge UK police forces, resulting in existing forces being cut by almost half, down from 43 to 24, increasing numbers of police officers are being lured by the promise of job security and a new life patrolling the streets Down Under.

The restructuring of the UK police force, initiated after the 7th July bombings in London, is scheduled for completion in April 2008 and has been called the biggest reform of policing that the country has seen for 30 years. In the North Eastern Tees Valley region alone, Stockton local council has predicted there will be about 800 police job cuts. The South Australian police recruitment drive in London which concluded last month couldn't have been better timed, it seems, as Australian states are on the look out for trained police professionals to boost their ranks.
London Police
South Australian Premier, Mike Rann, highlighted the importance of British migrants in their commitment to recruit an extra 400 police officers over the next four years. "Rapid recruitment has already boosted police ranks to a record high of 3,993 officers, but we need to keep up our drive to employ more police as well as replace those who leave as part of natural attrition."

"While our priority is recruiting locally, this is the third time South Australian Police (SAPOL) has undertaken recruiting in the UK, which has so far recruited 184 officers from the UK and into South Australia."

The 70 recruits, who will begin work in early December 2006 to March 2007, will undergo interviews and physical tests from SAPOL experts who are flying to London in August and, if successful, are placed in a three month training programme at the Police Academy in Taperoo.
SAPOL has received a "steady" number of enquiries every week since its previous recruitment drive in January.

The minimum requirements are that applicants are under the age of 45 and have a minimum of three continuous years experience on the UK force. Rann also comments that the British police officers who have already made the move Down Under are thriving in their new roles. "So far, SAPOL's new UK recruits have adjusted well to South Australia. The feedback we have been receiving is that the former 'bobbies' are highly competent, professional and friendly."

Despite the South Australian Police recruitment drive closing last month, however, there is a wealth of opportunities for police officers looking to relocate to Australia to work on Aussie forces.

New South Wales

New South Wales also offers options for migrant recruits to join their forces. Police Recruitment Branch requirements are such that all applicants are required to be a permanent Australian Resident or citizen. Potential recruits are expected to undertake a NSW Police approved course of study prior to employment, which offers several routes of entry. The most popular is the Associate Degree in Policing Practice offered by Charles Sturt University.

There are undergraduate entry, distance education entry and graduate entry options for officers who have no experience within an Australian police force. There are some basic requirements all NSW police recruits must meet in order to be eligible for service, all of which apply to British migrants. Applicants must have:

  • Health and fitness to fully perform operational policing duties. All students will be required to undertake a physical capacity test prior to entry into an associate degree class
  • Appropriate behavioural background (including criminal, traffic, employment and medical history)
  • Full Australian driver's licence
  • Minimum age 18.5 years (19 years for employment as a probationary Constable)
  • Current senior first aid
  • Ability to swim 100 metres
  • Ability to type 25 words per minute with 98 per cent accuracy
  • Australian citizen or permanent residency status
  • Hepatitis B immunisation
  • Urine screening for prohibited drugs
  • English proficiency

If employed, new recruits will initially perform operational policing duties, known as 'general duties' for at least three years. After three years of general duties you may have the opportunity to specialise in various areas including, but not limited to, forensics, rescue, water police, criminal investigation. Darren Critchley, a Sergeant in the NSW recruitment branch says that because migrants are required to be either an Australian citizen or permanent resident, all migrants must obtain either status prior to applying for a position. He says, "There is no specific training for Brits who want to become NSW police officers. In 2004-5, 0.4 per cent of applicants commencing the police training were from the United Kingdom, all of whom had permanent residency status in Australia." The starting salary for a probationary constable in NSW is AUS $47,000 (£18,900) per year. Use Halo Financial's currency converter for a more accurate salary figure.

Western Australia

Western Australia Police (WAPOL) finished their latest recruitment drive in October 2005, although it is worth taking a look at their website (details given in credits) for updates and new drives planned for the UK.

People with colour vision impairment and former applicants who did not comply with the colour vision standards are now encouraged to apply by WAPOL. They also have a special agreement with the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) to enable the final successful applicants to obtain permanent residency for themselves and eligible family members.


Victoria Police have a force of around 10,000 officers, and while they aren't currently running any recruitment campaigns for migrants wishing to join the forces, they accept direct enquiries to their recruitment branch. Overseas applicants must have been granted permanent resident status or be Australian citizens, before lodging an application. This means Victoria Police does not accept applications from people who are in the process of applying for permanent residency, or sponsor applicants for permanent residency.


At present, a recruit intake starts every two months in Oxley, Brisbane, and approximately every eight months at the Queensland Police Service Academy, Townsville. Each Brisbane intake comprises approximately 84 recruits and each Townsville intake comprises approximately 40 recruits.

As with Victoria and Western Australia, there is no ongoing recruitment drive in the UK, however there may not be a need for police officers with a high degree of experience to sit any examinations in order to apply for the Queensland Police Service, although residency rules apply. The Queensland government also runs a recruitment website for the public sectors, including a listing of all vacancies currently available in the police force.


Tasmanian Police have been rewarded recently for their hard work by a 30 per cent pay rise, meaning a mid-level police officer now earns AUS $50,900 (approximately £20,700) which can rise to AUS $70,299 (£28,600) at the rank of sergeant. There are approximately three recruit training courses each year, over 32 weeks, with 20 trainees in each, and Tasmania Police is currently recruiting.

To qualify for selection you must be an Australian citizen, or full-time resident and issued with a manual driver's licence, along with some other basic requirements. Tasmania Police are also looking for people willing to be posted anywhere in the State as part of a regional policing drive. While the number of recruits accepted each year may vary, look out for recruitment drives in all states online and in Emigrate Australia.

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