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Scenes of crime officer

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

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £16,000 to £35,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 30 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You’ll usually need:

  • at least 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) or equivalent, including English, maths and a science subject
  • a degree in forensic science or in a scientific subject like biological sciences or chemistry
A qualification in photography or video could be helpful although not essential. 

Many employers expect you to have previous experience in police work or a related field, like intelligence gathering and analysis.

Experience of dealing with the public and working in sensitive situations would be useful. 

You’ll need colour-normal vision.

The College of Policing has more information about becoming a scenes of crime officer.

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • a methodical and patient approach
  • excellent attention to detail
  • keen observational skills
  • the ability to record and report information accurately (spoken and written)
  • the ability to remain calm in unpleasant and distressing situations
  • the ability to use computers and scientific equipment

3. What you'll do

Your day-to-day duties might include:

  • preserving and protecting crime scenes
  • finding out what evidence is needed
  • recording the scene using photography and video
  • developing, recording and capturing fingerprint evidence
  • finding, recording and recovering evidence
  • keeping written records, producing statements and updating systems with details of evidence
You may also need to give evidence in court or attend post-mortems.

4. Salary

Starter: £16,000

Experienced: £18,000 to £27,000

Highly Experienced: £28,000 to £35,000

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You’ll usually work shifts and be part of an on-call rota.

The job can be physically demanding and involve working at height, in confined spaces, and being outdoors in all weather conditions.

You’ll spend most of your time out on investigations, but would write up reports, process recovered evidence and prepare statements at a police station.

You’re likely to need a driving licence.

6. Career path and progression

With experience, you may be able to progress to senior or principal officer with responsibility for managing a Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) team. 

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

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Last updated: 18 August 2017