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Scenes of crime officer

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

Annual Salary

£16,000 to £37,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

35 to 40 a week

You could work: days / nights / weekends; on call

Future employment

There will be 0.2% fewer Scenes of crime officer jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

In this role you could:

  • attend a variety of crime and other incident scenes
  • preserve and protect crime scenes
  • record scenes using photography and video
  • gather fingerprints and trace evidence
  • find, record and recover evidence like DNA samples
  • keep written records, produce statements and update information systems with evidence details
  • give evidence in court

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

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

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

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • applying directly

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

Other relevant subjects include:

  • psychology
  • criminology

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
For 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 as you'll need laboratory skills.

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.

If you are already working for the Police, you may be able to do courses through the College of Policing to become a scenes of crime investigator.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

  • For some forces you may need to undergo vetting procedures like psychological screening.
  • You'll usually need a driving licence.
  • pass enhanced background checks

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.

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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.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

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
  • knowledge of English language
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently
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