Scenes of crime officer

SOCO, crime scene investigator, CSI officer

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Scenes of crime officers (SOCOs) find, record and recover evidence from crime scenes.

Salary range: £16,000 to £35,000

How to become a scenes of crime officer

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • applying directly

University

You can do a degree in forensic science, or in a scientific subject like biological science or chemistry.

Some courses are accredited by The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree

More information

Direct application

Police services and law enforcement agencies set their own entry requirements for this type of work. In general, you’ll need at least 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent, including English, maths and a science subject.

Some employers may prefer A levels or equivalent, including a science like chemistry or biology.

Many employers ask for a degree and will expect you to have experience in police work or a related field, for example intelligence gathering and analysis.

More information

Career tips

Experience of dealing with the public and working in sensitive situations will be helpful.

Qualifications or experience in photography can also be useful and may be essential for some jobs.

Further information

You can find out more about working in forensics from The Chartered Society of Forensic Sciences.

Check with your local police service for details of vacancies and entry requirements.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You’ll need:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • customer service skills
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • the ability to work on your own
  • legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

Restrictions and requirements

You’ll need to:

You’ll usually need a driving licence.

What you’ll do

Day-to-day tasks

In this role you could:

  • preserve and protect crime scenes
  • record crime scenes using photography and video
  • capture fingerprint evidence
  • find, record and recover evidence like DNA samples
  • keep written records, produce statements and update information systems with evidence details

Working environment

You could work on the streets, in a court, at a mortuary or at a police station.

Your working environment may be at height, physically and emotionally demanding, outdoors some of the time, dirty and cramped.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could become a senior or principal officer, with responsibility for managing a crime scene investigation (CSI) team.

You could also complete further training to manage investigations at major incidents.

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