Police Detective

Job Description:

Police detectives investigate crimes, collecting evidence and statements and preparing charges to solve criminal cases.

Job Category:
Government & Public Services

What you will do:

Your day-to-day will include tasks such as:

  • getting evidence from suspects
  • preparing and serving search and arrest warrants
  • getting facts or statements from complainants, witnesses, and accused people and recording interviews
  • preparing charges or responses to charges, or information for court cases
  • securing people at the scene, keeping witnesses from leaving before investigators arrive
  • noting relevant details upon arrival at the scene, like time of day and weather conditions
  • taking photographs from all angles of relevant parts of a crime scene


You’ll need:

  • legal knowledge including court procedures and government regulations
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages competently

As well as:

  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • the ability to understand people’s reactions
  • negotiation skills for keeping people safe
  • sensitivity and understanding for dealing with traumatic situations
  • excellent verbal communication skills (teamwork skills)
  • leadership skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

School Subjects

Becoming a police detective typically requires a combination of education, skills, and experience. While specific GCSE subjects may not be strict requirements, certain subjects can provide a strong foundation for developing the skills and knowledge needed for a career in law enforcement and detective work, such as:

  1. English Language: Strong communication skills, both written and verbal, are essential for police detectives. Detectives often need to write reports, communicate with colleagues, and present findings in court.
  2. Mathematics: Basic math skills are important for tasks such as analyzing data, calculating measurements, and conducting financial investigations.
  3. Science: Subjects like Biology or Chemistry can be valuable for understanding forensic science, crime scene analysis, and evidence collection.
  4. Information Technology (IT) / Computer Science: Technology plays a significant role in modern policing, including digital evidence analysis, cybercrime investigation, and using police databases.
  5. Law or Citizenship Studies: Studying law-related subjects can provide an understanding of legal principles, criminal procedures, and the justice system.
  6. Foreign Languages: Learning a foreign language can be beneficial, especially if you’re interested in working in diverse communities or investigating international cases.
  7. Geography: Geography can help you develop skills in spatial analysis, map reading, and understanding local areas, which can be important for crime scene investigations.
  8. Physical Education (PE): Physical fitness is crucial for law enforcement professionals, including detectives. PE can help you maintain a good level of fitness and overall health.

While GCSE subjects provide a foundation, it’s important to note that becoming a police detective typically involves further education, training, and experience. After completing your GCSEs, you would typically need to follow these steps:

  • Further Education: You will need to complete additional education, such as A-levels or equivalent qualifications, which can be relevant to the field. Some candidates choose to pursue degrees in subjects like Criminology, Law, Forensic Science, or Psychology.
  • Join the Police Force: To become a police detective, you would need to join a police force as a constable first. Most detectives gain experience as uniformed officers before specializing in detective work.
  • Training: Police forces provide training programs for new officers, which cover a range of law enforcement skills, including investigative techniques, evidence collection, and communication.
  • Specialization: After gaining experience, officers can apply for detective roles within specialized units, such as homicide, fraud, narcotics, or cybercrime.
  • Professional Development: Ongoing training, workshops, and courses are essential to stay up-to-date with the latest investigative methods and developments in law enforcement.

Keep in mind that the specific requirements and pathways to becoming a police detective can vary depending on the country and jurisdiction you’re in. It’s advisable to research the requirements of the police force you’re interested in and seek guidance from law enforcement professionals or recruitment officers for the most accurate information.

In some countries you’ll progress more quickly if you have an undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree.

Working Hours and Environment:

If you’re full-time, you’ll work 40 hours per week. You may have to work in shifts involving late nights and early starts, depending on your type of work and branch.

You could be working in a police station or with other agencies, like government organisations. You’ll often be on the road attending to crime scenes or interviewing witnesses. The work can be mentally and physically demanding and can involve some dangerous situations.

Career Path & Progression:

Working for the police means you have access to a clearly defined promotion structure. As a detective, you have the opportunity to be promoted up through the following ranks:

  • detective constable
  • detective sergeant
  • detective inspector
  • detective chief inspector
  • detective superintendent
  • detective chief superintendent
  • assistant chief constable
  • deputy chief constable
  • chief constable.