Job profile of a police detective

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James Lewis has been in the Police for 8 years. He has faced more variety and challenges than most of us experience in a lifetime. He is about to be promoted to detective sergeant.

What does a police detective do?

As a detective, you could be called in to attend the scenes of crimes – everything from murders to armed robberies. I've interviewed serious criminals and travelled all over the country to talk to, and arrest, suspects.

Are there different types of detective?

Before my current post, I spent a year with Tactical Criminal Investigation Department (CID). This is a proactive crime investigation unit, targeting specific criminals and crimes. The job involves working closely with an intelligence unit which does the actual hidden surveillance and checks out information from informants, for instance.

What is your current post?

At the moment, I am an acting detective sergeant in the crime management unit. This unit is responsible for assessing some of the crime reports that come in, and allocating who should respond and carry out the subsequent investigations. I supervise 10 members of staff. It's an interesting combination of crime investigation and human resource management.

How did you progress?

I spent four years as a patrol officer before moving into a Beat Crime unit. Things have changed now as new recruits only need to do 12 months of training before choosing a career path in either the uniformed or CID branch.

What kind of training have you received?

After my probationary training I completed a Higher Education Certificate in Policing Studies. I have regularly attended training courses such as crime investigation, interview training, advanced driving, and scene and incident management.

More recently, I went through a rigorous selection process to win a place on an advanced detective training programme. This is a combination of academic study and practical training, leading to a degree in Applied Criminal Investigation.

What do you enjoy about the work?

I enjoy investigating and finding out what has happened. The work is mentally challenging and, at times, physically demanding. I get a real sense of achievement from taking an initial call from a member of the public through to a successful conviction at court. There is a lot of team work in this environment and that really suits me.

Do you have a typical day?

Currently, I work mainly behind a desk from 7am to 3pm, Monday to Friday. When I get promoted, though, I'll be back on a shift pattern. The opportunity to change jobs and roles is one of the big advantages of my job.

What are your long-term career goals?

My recent post helped me to develop skills in managing a team and dealing with other departments within the organisation. This was an excellent development platform for further promotion to senior officer specialising in the investigation of major and serious crime.

James's route to becoming a police detective

  • A Levels.
  • Police probationer training.
  • BSc Applied Criminal Investigation.

James's tip

  • Go out, live life and get some experience of the world first – it will make you a more effective police officer when you join.

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Salary of a police detective

  • Detectives are paid on the police salary scale according to rank and time served.
  • Bonuses linked to job role and location, vary from force to force.
  • Overtime may be available.
  • New recruits are paid £19,227, rising to over £22,000 once the two-year probationary period has been completed.
  • After five years a constable would be earning £24,852.
  • After 10 years, £28,914.
  • A sergeant earns £30,186 on appointment.

Steps to become a police detective

  • Usually, police officers do a CID attachment during their probationary period.
  • After two years, officers who have passed their probationary period can apply to join the CID.
  • In some areas, officers complete their basic law and police training during the first 12 months of their probation. They also have attachments to a number of different departments and for the second 12 months they can choose a uniformed or crime investigation career path.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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