When the going gets tough, contact officers are there to help. Whether it’s taking a report of a missing person, responding to a burglary or supporting someone in crisis; our contact officers 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 contact officer 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 and social media. In return, we promise you a good starting salary, plus an unsocial shift allowance, great training experiences, opportunities for progression and the pride that comes from helping others.
Join us and help make a difference, together.
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.
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 £24,546 plus an unsocial shift allowance in the region of £7,200 per year.
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 a contact officer 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.
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 and 999 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 controller or 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 contact officers.
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 contact officers. You will be presented audio clips of interactions between contact officers 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 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 contact officers, 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 contact officers 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 contact officers. The test takes approximately 40 minutes to complete and you will be presented with audio clips of interactions between contact officers 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?
Contact officers 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 contact officer will be made on the basis of the information you provide during application.
Do you ask for references?
We may send reference requests to your previous employers in the past three years. If you haven’t been employed for three years, we may ask for a character reference or an 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].