The order of my application is:
Application Form (~1.5 month wait) Assessment Centre (~2 to 3 weeks for results) Drug Tests (~2 to 3 weeks for results) asked to complete Financial & Personal Vetting forms (been waiting for vetting for 2 months now)
Not given a training start date or fitness test date so far.
I concur with everything that has been mentioned regarding vetting. Write down every little bit, as fully and accurately as possible, and hope for the best. My GP charged 25£ for the medical form, and another 25£ by the optometrist for the eye test. Keep the receipts in case you are successful and will get the expenses reimbursed.
For the assessment, I carefully studied the core competencies and reviewed my past work/personal experience and gave examples of how specific action fitted with one or more competencies. It may be useful to read through "the definitive guide to passing the police recruitment process" by John McTaggart.
I must admit that I felt after the assessment session that I didn't perform that well, but somehow managed to pass. Now the worry is the vetting which is going to be a long wait and no one can sure if that will be the end of the road (hopefully not). I have tried my very best anyway.
Reflecting on this, the process has been a lot more tedious and time-consuming than when I applied for my current main job (or any previous job I have been through). Maybe it is meant to be this way to weed out those who aren't serious in becoming a Special. However, many friends and colleagues of mine have also questioned if such level of commitment (and anxiety) will be worth it, considering it is a voluntary work, and the chances of becoming a regular in SYP remain slim in the foreseeable future. Stubbornly, I have always acted with my heart and have come this far.