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Level 4 HE in Community Policing Practice (Northumbria University)

As part of joining Durham Constabulary as a PCSO you will be required to undertake the above qualification. This is a mandatory condition of your employment.


The PCSO role, by its very nature, is a community-based public facing role and therefore requires  application of a high degree of professional knowledge, understanding and skills across a range of complex and challenging situations and contexts, as well as demonstration of appropriate behaviours in line with effective community policing.

The College of Policing, as the professional body for the police service, has developed several routes into the policing profession for the role of the PCSO. The above Level 4 entry programme is one of those routes. The structure, content and academic progression of this programme is based upon the nationally agreed curriculum for the role of the PCSO.

Successful completion of the programme will lead to a Level 4 HE Community Policing Practice qualification and will enable you to carry out your role in providing vital support to front-line policing.

In brief: the course provides excellent preparation for your role as a PCSO, which will enable you to begin your career with Durham Constabulary.

Aims of the programme:

The PCSO curriculum has been designed to allow you to acquire a range of cross-cutting knowledge areas/skill sets deemed essential for ensuring that you can carry out your duties responsibly and effectively, as well as developing and enhancing your professional performance in key areas of community-based policing.

What does the PCSO programme cover?

The programme emphasises core elements and responsibilities of the role you are going to undertake. These can be broken down into 4 key areas:

 Educational and professional:

  • understanding the PCSO role
  • the Code of Ethics
  • maintaining professional standards
  • valuing difference and inclusion

Evidence-based policing and problems solving:

  • problem-solving in a community policing context
  • evidence-based policing
  • decision-making and discretion
  • communication skills

Community Policing:

  • crime prevention (including criminology)
  • vulnerability and risk
  • public protection
  • digital policing
  • counter terrorism
  • criminal justice

Professional community policing:

  • supporting communities and partnership building
  • response policing
  • dealing with minor crime

Programme Summary

The PCSO qualification is a:

Level 4 HE Certificate in Community Policing Practice (Level 4, 120 credits).

The programme consists of five assessed modules and involves classroom-based learning, some self-study, workplace portfolio and a community-based problem-solving activity.

The minimum duration of the programme is 12 months during which will give you the necessary skills needed to allow you to be a fully competent Police Community Support Officer and allow you to be confirmed in post.

Once you have completed your programme, we will request your Level 4 certificate from the awarding organisation, Northumbria University. There are currently no exit awards should you leave the course early.

The successful completion of the qualification required part of your employment and upon successful completion, you will be appointed to a permanent position in Durham Constabulary.  

Appointment into the role will be subject to subject to a 12 month probationary period which will be subject to successful completion of the Level 4 HE qualification.