Are you always striving to help others and want to make a difference to your community?
What awaits you is a hugely diverse and fulfilling career, where you’ll be dealing with a variety of reports to help someone in a moment of need. Start earning a starting salary of up to £37,905 (dependent on full rota and hours worked).
If you have a question about any aspect of your recruitment journey, be that eligibility requirements, completing the application form, or you want to find out more about what happens after you have submitted your application, our recruitment experts can answer your questions. Email the team to book a 1:1 recruitment call now: [email protected]
We actively encourage applications from members of the Armed Forces and Military veterans.
If you are interested in applying for a role at Sussex police and would like to speak to one of our Armed Forces champions, please email [email protected] and we will arrange for you to talk to someone.
What is an Omni-Competent Call Handler?
When the going gets tough, Call Handlers are there to help. Whether it’s taking a report of a missing person, responding to a burglary or supporting someone in crisis; our call handlers play a vital role in helping keep our communities safe, identifying and protecting the most vulnerable and preventing harm. For many people, you’ll be the first point of contact with the police. You’ll be a calm, reassuring voice in people’s hour of need. Asking the right questions, listening for vital details and recording information; all while monitoring two screens.
Being a Call Handler is certainly not your typical nine-to five call centre role; no two calls are the same. You will deal with emergency 999 calls, non-emergency 101 calls, online reporting, social media and despatch Police Officers and other resources, to incidents.
In return, we promise you a good starting salary, plus an unsocial shift allowance, great training experiences, opportunities for progression within Sussex police and the pride that comes from helping others.
Join us and help make a difference, together.
Hear from our own call handlers
Rash became a call handler as he wanted to contribute to policing and says, “I know how hard the force strives to make a difference to people’s lives. I wanted to help, even if in the smallest way, to change the public’s perception of the police. If I can deliver an outstanding service to those that I speak to, then hopefully the message can be passed onto others.”
When Rash was asked what he learnt in his first year, he said, “I quickly learnt that no two jobs are the same. My first year was about getting used to the vast amount of call types we receive and how to deal with each one in terms of what questions to ask the caller, which person/team to best seek advice from and where the job should actually be allocated.”
Rash’s advice to someone thinking about joining the contact centre is, “you should be confident in your decision making and be able to work well under pressure. What you say can greatly impact a person. You should be able to show empathy and compassion and want to help people. Although there is a lot to learn, everyone is willing to help!”
Charlotte has always had a keen interest in crime and policing and enjoyed previous customer service roles and says, “when I saw the advertisement for the call handler role, it seemed perfect for me. 18 years later I am still here!”
When reflecting upon her first year with the contact centre, Charlotte says, “I still remember the butterflies in my stomach when taking my first call, (whilst being supported by my tutor) and the sense of achievement when I was ready to take calls solo. I learnt a lot about different types of reports and the processes we follow to provide a service to the community. I also came to realise how to show empathy, understanding and reassurance to the caller using only my voice, as they could not see the compassion in my face.”
Charlotte says “there are so many moments in my career that have given me a sense of pride, such as the scared elderly lady I reassured, the intelligence checks I completed enabling me to locate a victim and safeguard them, identifying children who were at risk, calming a distressed caller to get enough information to deploy officers to them. All of those examples make me feel that I am helping to keep our communities safe.”
Working in a fast-paced, 24/7 environment, being a contact officer is a demanding role where you need to be patient and comfortable working under pressure and problem-solving. You’ll be the sort of person who relishes a challenge. Thinking quickly is imperative, as is multi-tasking.
You’ll find yourself engaging with people of all ages and backgrounds so you’ll need to be able to build rapport quickly, show empathy and communicate clearly at all times. Enquiries can range greatly, including some of the most difficult situations you can think of. You’ll need to find the balance between compassion and not becoming emotionally involved; having the resilience to deal with the rough and the smooth on a daily basis. However, you will always be supported.
Our contact officers are an integral part of our frontline, supporting the divisions of Brighton and Hove, East Sussex and West Sussex, as well as specialist departments including Public Protection, Firearms and Counter-Terrorism. You’ll work closely with your police officer and staff colleagues; making a difference, together.
No two calls are ever the same. You could find yourself:
Obtaining and recording accurate information regarding a live or historic situation.
Handling large volumes of calls, emails or social media enquires – we receive on average 70,000 per month.
Responding to several emergency situations simultaneously.
Acting as the main point of contact between the force and the public.
Our contact officers work a 10-week rotating shift pattern on the following schedule:
Two early shifts – 07:00 to 17:00 or 09:00 to 19:00
Two late shifts – 13:00 to 23:00 or 15:00 to 01:00
Two night shifts – 19:00 to 03:00 or 23:00 to 07:00
Four rest days
Upon completion of the full-time training course, we are able to offer part-time working hours, however these will still need to conform to the shift pattern. Term time only hours are not possible with this role and you’ll need to be willing to work some weekends and public holidays.
While customer service experience is a bonus, it’s not necessary as, from your first day with us, you will be supported through great training by brilliant teammates. Overall, you’ll simply want to make a difference, together.
Please note that this role attracts a 24 month tenure, therefore while you can apply for other roles within the force you will not be able to start your new role until the tenure has expired.
To apply for the role you will need to meet our eligibility criteria:
Aged 18 years or over (on the day you submit your application).
Have lived in the UK for three continuous years, immediately prior to application.
Have leave to enter or leave to remain and work in the UK for an indefinite period.
Ability to commit to a 10-week rotating shift pattern which covers a 24/7 period.
For more information, see FAQs.
To join Sussex Police in any role you will need to prove your right to work in the UK.
Do I have right to work in the UK?
Your right to work in the UK depends on your immigration status - this is also called your ‘leave’. If you don’t have the right to work, you might be able to apply for it.
You automatically have the right to work in the UK if:
you’re a British or Irish citizen.
you have pre-settled or settled status from the EU Settlement Scheme - or you’ve applied and you’re waiting for a decision.
you have a family permit from the EU Settlement Scheme.
you have indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK.
you have right of abode in the UK.
You might have a right to work in the UK if you have a visa with a time limit. This is called having 'limited leave to enter or remain’.
If you entered the UK illegally or your leave has ended, you don’t have the right to work in the UK.
Proving your right to work in the UK
You might be able to prove your right to work online or by showing your employer certain documents. Any document you show your employer must be:
valid - you can’t use a document that’s expired unless it’s a British or Irish passport.
the original document - you can’t use a copy, however you can use a replacement birth certificate if you have lost the original.
If your document is expiring soon and you’ve applied to extend your leave, you can still prove your right to work. You might need to use a different document or ask your employer to contact the Home Office Employer Checking Service (ECS) - it depends what kind of leave you have.
For further information about Right to work in the UK, please refer to the gov.uk website.
When you join Sussex Police, you can expect a career with variety, diversity, challenges, rewards and great learning experiences. This is a vital role which matters to the public, but it also matters to us. As such, we will give you:
A starting salary of at least £28,302 plus an unsocial shift allowance of £9603 (dependent on hours worked).
25 days per year annual leave, rising to 30 days depending on your length of service (annual leave based on 37 hours working week and 7.4 hour day).
Great development experiences that will support future career opportunities and progression.
A competitive benefits package including pension, flexible benefits, employee assistance programme for advice and counselling, access to discounts / savings / cash-back rewards.
Progressive approach to flexible working, enhanced maternity and paternity leave and potential for a career break (after two years’ service).
Part-time working patterns after completion of the full-time training. Flexible working is available Monday through to Sunday, from 08:00 to 20:00, or as a variation of the full time shift pattern.
Opportunities to join various support networks, staff associations and sports clubs.
By successfully completing the recruitment process, you will join Sussex Police as an Omni–Competent Emergency Call Handler and will join a 12-week training course; consisting of six weeks' training and six weeks' tutoring where we will support and coach you to become competent in the role in the initial Contact Handler position. Once you have reached the required level of competence for this role (usually at about 9 months service), you will receive further training in the role of Controller and be supported to reach a level of competence in despatching calls and resourcing incidents.
The training course is full-time, Monday to Friday, working 08:00 to 16:00 for the first six weeks. The remainder of the tutoring phase will be 08:00-16:00 and 12:00-20:00 on a rotating pattern.
Upon completing the training you will work across both 101, 999 call taking and in controlling and despatching, within our contact centre based at Sussex Police Headquarters in Lewes.
Starting your career in our contact centre will provide you with a wide range of skills and experiences which will enable you to either apply to progress within the contact centre – as a supervisor - or apply for a number of different roles across the organisation. You could become a police officer or a PCSO, start an investigative career or work in one of our support departments such as corporate communications or professional development. The possibilities are endless.
The application process consists of six stages and it’s important to note that because of this, the average time from application to appointment is six months. Only by adopting this stringent approach can we ensure we select people who will make great call handlers.
Stage one - online application form: this is where we check your personal details and that all eligibility criteria have been met.
Stage two - online situational judgment assessment: this test has been specifically designed for use in the recruitment of 999 and 101 call handlers. You will be presented audio clips of interactions between call handlers and callers and asked to rate the effectiveness of actions which could be taken in response to the scenario.
Stage three - online competency based questions: you will be asked a series of competency questions based upon the Competency and Values Framework (CVF). Please provide as much detail as possible within the recommended word count.
Stage four - in-force multi-skills assessment: this test is designed to check your competence with multi-tasking. The assessment involves listening to twenty pieces of audio played over a loud speaker. You are required to document what you can hear being said. In between the audio, you will complete a set of basic maths and English questions. You will need to move from document to document until all of the audio sentences have been played.
Stage six - pre-employment checks: this is when we begin our pre-employment checks which consists of a medical questionnaire, references and vetting. Further information on the checks can be found in the FAQs below.
If your application has been successfully submitted you will receive an email to your registered email address along with your candidate ID. If you have submitted an application but have not received a notification please first check your Spam/Junk folder before emailing [email protected] providing your full name, telephone number and the date you submitted your application.
Am I too old to apply?
There is no upper age limit for our call handlers, so you are never too old to apply! We encourage applications from everyone whether you’re a college leaver, career changer or planning your return to work.
I’m 17 but will be 18 in a couple of months’ time. Can I apply?
Unfortunately not. To be eligible to apply, you must be 18 years or over when you submit your application. When you’re 18, we will welcome your application!
I’m not a British Citizen, can I still apply?
You can as long as you are an EEA National or a Swiss National. Commonwealth Citizens and Foreign Nationals are required to have leave to enter or leave to remain in the UK for an indefinite period and unrestricted permission to work in the UK.
If I have a disability, can I still apply?
Yes. We welcome applications from people with disabilities and our contact centre has step-free access. If you consider yourself to have a disability, please inform us within your application form of the type of reasonable adjustments you might need to assist you in participating in the recruitment and selection process. We will make these wherever we can.
Can I still apply if I have a criminal record?
Applications will be unsuccessful in all cases where:
Offences were committed as an adult or juvenile which resulted in a prison sentence (including custodial, suspended or deferred sentence and sentences served at a young offenders’ institution or community home)
The applicant is a registered sex offender or is subject to a registration requirement in respect of any other conviction.
For all other convictions or cautions, there is a rebuttable presumption that they should be rejected. In particular, the following would result in rejection: offences where vulnerable people were targeted; offences motivated by hate or discrimination; domestic abuse offences. Although the rebuttable presumption is that these should lead to rejection, there will be cases where this may disproportionate in the circumstances. For instance, where the offence was committed as a juvenile, it was not serious and the individual has demonstrated a commitment to help individuals or communities in the subsequent years. In these cases, vetting acceptable may be justified.
What does the application form include?
We have reviewed the way we recruit call handlers and therefore the application form simply asks for contact details, employment history and education within the application form.
How will I be shortlisted?
Following your application, we will invite you to complete an online situational judgement assessment which will be used to shortlist candidates. This test has been specifically designed for use in the recruitment of 999 and 101 call handlers. The test takes approximately 40 minutes to complete and you will be presented with audio clips of interactions between call handlers and callers. You will be asked to rate the effectiveness of four actions which could be taken in response to the scenario. Candidates who meet or exceed the required pass rate will have their applications progressed.
I applied before but didn’t have to do an online assessment at stage two?
As part of our review, we have replaced our telephone interviews with the online situational judgement assessment as these allow us to better assess decision making, service delivery, professionalism, serving the public and working with others.
Can you help if I have an issue using the online assessments?
If you experience difficulties with the online assessment, please contact [email protected] who will be able to help you.
I have not received an email confirming if I’ve passed or failed?
At the end of each element of the online selection process, you will receive an email. If this has not been received, please check your spam / junk folders before emailing [email protected].
What should I expect with the multi-skills assessment?
Call handlers are required to manage multiple enquires and requests at the same time. You will be responding to calls, asking questions, listening and recording information. This test is therefore designed to check your competence with multi-tasking. The assessment involves listening to twenty pieces of audio played over a loud speaker, you are required to document, on a word document, what you can hear being said. In between the audio sentences, you will have 20-30 seconds of silence to complete a set of basic maths and English questions. You will need to move from document to document until all of the audio sentences have been played.
What does the medical involve?
You will be asked to complete a standard medical questionnaire where you can provide general information about your health and any medical conditions. Depending on your medical history, our Occupational Health team may have to contact your GP/Specialist for further information.
What does vetting entail?
We will carry out security checks on you and your:
Children/children of your partner (only those aged 10 years and over)
Any other adult living at your address
Social media accounts
I have a relative who has convictions, can I apply?
If your friends or family members have criminal convictions, you must disclose this when asked on your vetting application. Your application will not be automatically rejected and consideration will be given on a case-by-case basis.
Do I have to declare if I was arrested but not charged?
Yes. You must declare if you have ever been subject to a criminal investigation whether or not this led to a prosecution. Failure to make such declarations will lead to your application being rejected.
I’ve been bankrupt, can I apply?
You can still apply but only if it is three years after bankruptcy debts have been discharged.
How about County Court Judgements (CCJ)?
If the judgement has been discharged then you can be considered however if you have an existing judgement your application will be rejected.
I have an Independent Voluntary Agreement (IVA)?
Applicants with current IVA’s will be considered. However, you will be required to show that there is an IVA repayment plan in place and that you’ve maintained regular payments over a significant number of months.
Can I continue with my other business?
You must declare any other employment for hire or gain or any other business interests that you intend to maintain. A decision on whether it is considered that your business interests are compatible with performing the role of call handler will be made on the basis of the information you provide during application.
Do you ask for references?
We'll ask for references from each of your previous employers and/or educational establishments for the last five years. Any gaps in employment will need to be explained and verified.
If you haven't been in employment for five years, we'll ask for a character or educational reference.
Why is the role tenured for 24 months?
A number of roles within the force are tenured positions. This recognises the investment we make in terms of training and developing people in these areas.
Can I work part-time or term-time only? We do require you to work full-time to complete your initial training course, however after this we are able to offer part-time, job shares and flexible working patterns. We recommend you speak to [email protected]
What does the training entail exactly?
The training course consists of four weeks classroom based training learning Sussex Police IT systems, policy and law with inputs on a variety of topics such as domestic abuse, child sexual exploitation (CSE) and fraud. You will be introduced to live calls from members of the public in the fourth or fifth week. Following this, you will commence a period of six to eight weeks tutoring answering calls in both 999 and 101 functions. The training timeframe is not fixed and can be adapted.
How can I contact you if I have more questions?
If you have any questions about the recruitment process, please contact us via email at [email protected].