Detective Constable: Everything You Need To Know

The Detective Constable Direct Entry process will test you to your limits

The UK police force has a strong and stable ranking structure. Amongst the higher ranks, is the role of Detective Constable. Detective Constables are required to participate in difficult and complex criminal investigations, interview victims of crimes (and suspects), and play a leading management role within the police.

In this blog, we’ll provide you with some key responsibilities of the Detective Constable role, and the behavioral expectations that you must abide by.

Detective Constable responsibilities

As a leader within the police force, Detective Constables have a number of core responsibilities. These include:

  • Directing and participating in criminal investigations.
  • Assessing a range of information and data, to come to accurate decisions.
  • Developing strategies for managing investigations, and evaluating existing strategies to determine how they could be improved.
  • Using the latest technology, to assist ongoing investigations.
  • Making cost-effective decisions, with the police budget in mind.
  • Ensuring that interviews and interrogations are carried out with the utmost professionalism.
  • Participating in, and conducting, interviews with victims, witnesses and suspects.
  • Working closely with fellow police employees, to provide the best possible service to the public.
  • Liaising with employees from partner agencies.
  • Maintaining your own professional standards.

Naturally, this is all pretty difficult! The police won’t expect you to just walk into the job and start solving crimes. You’ll be given extensive training to prepare you for all this, and to make sure that you are ready for the challenges ahead.

Detective Constables are expected to operate under what are known as ‘building blocks’. These building blocks essentially underline the way in which you will work as Detective Constable, and they will be especially useful when you sit the assessment centre. Think of these as a framework or structure for how you would tackle tasks when working in the police:

Preserving Life. This should be the immediate priority for any person who is sent to a crime scene. First aid should be provided to any victim in need, and an ambulance should also be requested if necessary. Preserving life should be the mandatory first protocol, even if it risks tampering with the crime scene.

Preserving the Scene. Your next priority should be in preserving the crime scene. You need to look at the crime scene as an area, and secure all routes to and from the scene, by placing tape over the entrances, assigning officers to guard entrances and deny access from civilians. You also need to ensure that steps are taken to secure physical evidence, without disrupting or damaging this evidence.

Securing the Evidence. Following the above, it’s imperative that you take steps to make sure the evidence is handled carefully. This could be in the form of taking witness statements, or even seizing crime scene items.

Victim Identification. Next, you need to make identifying victims your priority. By doing this early, you stand a better chance of identifying suspects, and in doing so solving the case.

Suspect Identification. Finally, you need to engage in identifying and arrest suspects. This is extremely important, as suspects could pose a risk to others, or destroy essential evidence before it can be seized by police.

Working as a Detective Constable is rewarding but challenging

Detective Constable Core Competencies

On top of this, in order to behave in an exemplary fashion, Detective Constables will need to adhere to the core competencies of the role. Core competencies are essentially a set of behavioural guidelines, which you are expected to demonstrate whilst working in the role. Below we’ve listed the core competencies that would be expected for candidates on the Direct Entry programme:

Emotional Awareness

The first competency on the list is emotional awareness. Emotional awareness is extremely important for Detective Constables, and indeed for any police employee. As a member of the police force, it’s crucial that you can learn to understand the needs and feelings of your colleagues, and your own emotions. Part of doing this is your ability to listen to others, making a genuine attempt to empathise with them and appreciate their viewpoint.

Positive Drive

Positive drive is all about being the change that you want to see. It’s about being a force for positive development within the police, and motivating others to improve their own working practice. You must take a positive and enthusiastic attitude to your work, keeping other colleague’s spirits up. As a leader, you must be decisive and proactive, showing a confident and assertive attitude. It’s extremely important that every single employee of the police is capable of adapting to new working methods, and constantly improving. Criminals are becoming more and more intelligent in their attempts to evade the law. The use of modern technology has aided criminals in this regard, but it can also aid the police. Using the most up-to-date methods, you will be responsible for tracking down and detaining criminals.


Resilience is an extremely important quality for Detective Constables to have. Working in the police is an exciting and hugely rewarding career, but it is also extremely challenging and can push you to your limits. In order to succeed, you’ll need to be a resilient person. You must be able to face challenges and hardships with an open mind and a calm approach. Obviously, the police do not expect you to be a robot – they know that their employees are human beings and that some of the things you’ll experience when working will have an emotional impact. However, it’s imperative that the police know you can handle this. They don’t want to hire someone, only to have them drop out a few weeks later because they can’t deal with the difficult aspects of the role. So, with this in mind, it’s important that you are resilient.

Team Working

Teamwork is extremely important when working in the police. Your ability to work in synchronisation with your colleagues, to create an effective and organised policing unit, will be paramount to the success of the force. The better police staff can work together, the stronger the level of care that you can provide to the public. Policing is not a one-person job. It takes the combined efforts of the entirety of the police to fight crime successfully. As a Detective Constable, you will need to call on the help of many other specialists working within the police, and in outside agencies, so it’s essential that your teamworking skills are top notch. You’ll also be a leader, required to manage teams, so it’s vital that you have an understanding of how to work with others.

In order to work as a Detective Constable, professionalism is key


Communication is incredibly important when working in the police, and therefore it is essential that candidates for Direct Entry can demonstrate an ability to put across their ideas in a clear and concise manner, in both written form and verbal. Working in the police will put you in contact with a wide variety of people, from different backgrounds, and therefore it’s vital that you can communicate effectively. Not only will you utilise your communication skills when dealing with members of the public, and with your own team, but you will also need to communicate with different members of the law enforcement team, and professionals from outside of the police – such as social workers or lawyers. You may also be asked to appear in court, where you will need to communicate verbally. Alternatively, your written reports could be used in court as evidence. These are just some of the many reasons that communication is essential for Detective Constables.

Professional Approach

As a Detective Constable, it’s imperative that you can take a professional approach to your work. The police are role models in society. They need to set an example, and this is especially true for high ranking officers – such as Detective Constables. The public look to the police for guidance and reassurance, and you can only provide this to them, and build up a level of trust, by acting with the utmost professionalism.

You might be familiar with the term integrity. A Detective Constable with integrity is someone who can act with decency, honesty and kindness, whilst still upholding the values and beliefs of the police service. Your professional standards are incredibly important, and you must be able to uphold these.

Investigative Mind

Naturally, this is one of the core skills for any Detective Constable. The clue being in the name – detective! Having an investigative mind means that you are someone who can think analytically about your work, deciding on factors such as investigation planning and how the investigative process will be carried out. Since you are a Detective Constable, this will form one of the key parts of your role, so it’s crucial that you can lead these initiatives. Furthermore, you’ll also be involved in improving the way that future investigations are conducted, through using self-evaluation and team evaluation to determine what worked well, and what didn’t.

At all times, you will need to think logically but creatively, coming up with alternative solutions or methods where others have failed, whilst still maintaining the highest possible standards.


No matter what rank you are in the police service, you will always be learning from your experiences. It’s essential that Detective Constables can learn and grow from each and every investigation. Every single person, in every walk of life, makes mistakes. Whether these are major or minor, it’s important that you can learn from these mistakes and improve for the next time. Whilst your initial training will prepare you for the role, at the end of the day it can’t prepare you for every single eventuality, and therefore you need to be able to think on your feet and develop strategies for dealing with unexpected scenarios.

This is not an easy role. Working as a Detective Constable will require you to give 100% of yourself every single day. If you aren’t learning from your experiences, then you will have a big problem, because improvement is a key part of doing this job successfully.

Detective Constables have huge responsibility

6 thoughts on “Detective Constable: Everything You Need To Know

    • Joshua Brown says:

      Hi Sally,

      Thank you for your comment and info. We’d love to hear how your experience differed? We are aware that there is a new police constable assessment centre process being used by the MET (which is being finalised) but we have guided a few applicants in the last month through the MET’s Detective Constable Direct Entry route and they have all had the process described in the blog. E.g.:

      1. Online Application Form
      2. Online Verbal Reasoning Tests
      3. Standard Police Constable ‘Day 1’ Assessment Centre
      4. Detective Constable Assessment Centre (In-Tray, Briefing Exercise, and Interview)

      If you process did differ we’d love to hear more from you. Please feel free to contact us at: [email protected]

      We wish you all the best as a DC and if there is anything we can do to help, please drop us a message 🙂

  1. Isidora says:

    Hello. I am interested in this role and I planning to apply in Bedfordshire. So, I need some information about the training, how difficult it is, and if there are any books for this role to buy to prepare myself correctly.
    Many thanks.

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