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Scene of crime officers identify and collect forensic, photographic and fingerprint evidence from crime scenes.

What does a scene of crime officer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Scene of crime officers (SOCOs – also known as crime scene investigators or CSIs) work alongside police officers to help solve crimes. They're experts trained to take photographs of evidence and identify traces left at crime scenes. They attend a wide range of scenes including vehicle crimes, burglaries, murders and unexplained deaths. They may also attend post mortems.

Other typical responsibilities include:

  • responding to and prioritising calls from police officers
  • taking charge of crime scenes to avoid contamination
  • establishing what evidence is required from incident scenes and how best to obtain it
  • dusting for fingerprints and searching for footprints
  • using scientific techniques to gather forensic evidence such as blood, hairs, fibres, paint, glass and other traces left at crime scenes
  • taking fingerprints

Typical employers of scene of crime officers

  • Individual police forces around the UK

Opportunities are advertised on police forces' websites.

Qualifications and training required

It's possible to become a crime scene officer both with or without a degree: individual police forces have different requirements. For example, some will ask for a qualification in photography while others will need experience in police work.

While entrance requirements vary between individual forces, most expect candidates to have at least five good GCSE grades including English, maths and a science subject.

To find out more about how to get into policing via a school leaver route (eg an apprenticeship or school leaver route) see the public sector section of TARGETcareers, our website aimed at school leavers, particularly the feature on jobs and employers in the police.

Key skills for scene of crime officers

Recruiters look for people who can cope well under pressure and handle sensitive situations. Other essential qualities and skills include:

  • patience
  • a logical and enquiring mind
  • meticulous attention to detail
  • an understanding of the legal system
  • excellent written and oral communication skills
  • good teamworking and problem-solving abilities
  • good people skills

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