Highly accessible to former lawyers, or would be if not for budget cuts. Recruitment policies vary from force to force: www.policecouldyou.co.uk lists the recruitment contacts for each of the 44 forces in England and Wales. Scotland has 8 forces and Northern Ireland one. No age limit to joining, a 2 year probationary period after which specialist posts may be applied for, retirement normally at 60. Open to foreign nationals, so long as there are no restrictions upon staying in the UK.
The 'High Potential Development Scheme' (HPD) constitutes the fast track, and is open to new recruits as well as serving officers: "it offers a focused approach to career advancement, with none of the 'artificial barriers' - such as age, background, and gender that can slow your career trajectory in many industries" (see http://www.policeuk.com/careers/aps.html for more details).
Flexible work practices can be negotiated by an officer with experience, and the British Association of Women Police (www.bawp.org) has a produced a guide to flexible working. The websites also provide details for the related Police Community Support Officers and Special Constables.
Although officer numbers are at record levels (there are 140,000 sworn officers in England and Wales, an increase of over 14,000 from 1997), it must be said that several forces are anticipating a reduction in police officer numbers due to budget settlements.
Whilst every care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time of posting, the information is intended as guidance only. It should not be considered as professional or legal advice.