Job as a Police financial investigator

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Emma Morton is a financial investigator working as a civilian for the Police. She uses her accountancy background and skills to investigate financial offences, making sure that crime doesn't pay.

Why do the police need your accountancy skills?

This is a specialist role. Jobs like mine have been created so that criminals on the loose will no longer be able to fund their expensive lifestyles with the proceeds of their crime. Our main objective is to seize the money they've made from crime, whether they are wealthy career criminals with yachts or local crooks who spend their victims' money on flashy clothes and jewellery. I spend a lot of time analysing and profiling defendants so that I can make decisions to help any ongoing criminal investigations.

How do you do your work?

A lot of my work involves paperwork and I use specialist databases and computer software. Once I have identified criminally obtained assets such as money or goods, I prepare paperwork to justify a hearing to decide whether we can confiscate or forfeit them. This might involve getting information from financial institutions and preparing statements.

I also collate information for any cash seized during police operations and help senior investigating officers by researching the financial aspects of serious crime and known criminals.

Is this an office job?

Not entirely. The job requires a flexible approach. Often, I go to court, either to give evidence in a case or for permission to obtain a defendant's personal information, like bank accounts. I also interview suspects, search houses for financially related information and visit prison to issue restraint orders. There is also a lot of liaison with my police colleagues as I advise them on the complexities of financial legislation.

How did you get into this work?

I was the financial controller for a retail company for 12 years and saw my current position advertised locally. The job is an interesting, diverse and challenging environment. What it offers is the opportunity to make a difference in a tangible way. The money we seize from criminals is reinvested to fight crime and improve technology.

Do you need extra training?

Yes. I trained as an accountant but before I started the job. I needed to read up on all the current legislation, especially the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Since then, I've done a number of courses in financial investigation, confiscation and search and seizure. My next course will be on money laundering. I have also learned presentation skills as well as interview techniques.

What hours do you work?

Mainly 8am to 4pm. Sometimes, I have been called out at weekends for cash seizures and worked late nights doing searches and interviews.

What are the skills and qualities needed for your role?

I've got to be resourceful and versatile in responding to changing demands. I work on my own as well as being part of a team, so you need to display initiative and independence. People rely on me to gather information efficiently, so I also need to make decisions quickly and decisively. A sense of personal integrity is important, as is a sense of humour.

Emma's route

  • Part-qualified accountant.
  • Commercial experience.
  • Internal training in financial and interviewing skills.

Emma's tips

  • Work hard at school – maths, English and IT need to be strengths.
  • Keep abreast of financial trends by reading newspapers, books and have a good general knowledge of the economy.

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Salary of a Police financial investigator

  • Financial investigators earn between £23,000 and £24,000 depending on the force.
  • Senior investigators can earn up to £32,000.

Getting in

  • Financial investigators work for a number of agencies such as the police, Customs and Excise, the Serious Fraud Office and the Environment Agency.
  • Most financial investigators have an investigative background, which can be gained in a police or civilian role, with experience of basic interviewing techniques.
  • An accounting or financial qualification can be helpful but is not essential.
  • Successful applicants will have a good knowledge of criminal law and should be able to demonstrate their ability to organise and handle large and complex case loads.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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