Crime Scene Examiner Careers

How to become Crime Scene Examiner

What does a Crime Scene Examiner do?

Scenes of crime officers (SOCOs), sometimes called crime scene investigators (CSIs) or crime scene examiners, work with police in the investigation of serious crime. They are usually civilians but in some police forces may be police officers in uniform or plain clothes. They are among the first to arrive at a crime scene and their job is to retrieve, examine and investigate physical evidence that may help to trace and convict criminals. They determine from the crime scene whether assistance from specialists, such as a forensic scientist, is needed.

The scenes worked on can vary widely, from 'volume crime' such as burglary and vehicle crime, and 'major crime' such as rape or murder.

The main elements of the work are photography, fingerprinting, forensic examination and the collection of evidence such as blood samples, hair, fibres and paint samples.

The evidence is collated and recorded by the SOCO and is used by an investigating officer to determine the facts of the crime. They may have to give evidence in court and are often required to attend post mortems.

What's the working environment like working as a Crime Scene Examiner?

Scenes of crime officers usually work 37 hours a week, including shifts, weekends and public holidays. They are often part of a rota which provides cover 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They may also be called out in emergencies.

Officers work indoors and outdoors in all weather conditions. Conditions can be extremely unpleasant and, at times, hazardous. Depending on the situation, standing, walking, lifting, climbing ladders and working at heights may be required.

The necessity to travel to crime scenes means a driving licence is normally required. SOCOs may be required to live within a certain distance of the work place.

What does it take to become a Crime Scene Examiner?

As a scenes of crime officer you should:

  • have keen observational skills, an eye for detail, and a methodical approach to work
  • be physically fit
  • be able to cope with unpleasant and distressing situations
  • have an interest in/aptitude for science
  • be able to work from your own intiative and as a member of a disciplined team
  • have strong communication skills for written and spoken reports and liaison with professional colleagues
  • have computer skills
  • have a flexible attitude for learning new techniques and using new technology.

Crime Scene Examiner Career Opportunities

All large police forces employ a team of up to 80 crime scene investigators, but competition for places is fierce.

Advancement is to senior and principal officer with management responsibilities.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Crime Scene Examiner that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

National Training Centre for Scientific Support to Crime Investigation (NTC)
Harperley Hall
Fir Tree
County Durham
DL15 8DS
Tel: 01388 762191

UK Police Services Portal

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