Crime scene investigator jobs are one of the most sought after positions within the policing sector. Crime scene investigators, sometimes known as scenes of crime officers, attend the scene of a crime directly; to look for clues and analyse what may have taken place. So, how to become a scenes of crime officer? What is the selection process like, and what qualities do you need to demonstrate? In this blog, we’ll answer all of your questions, and teach you how to become a scenes of crime officer.
The role of a scenes of crime officer
The role of a crime scene investigator is to assist the police with investigations. Crime scene investigators take a specialist approach to solving crime. They attend scenes directly, and investigate/analyse evidence. Crime scene investigators are employed by individual constabularies. They work alongside regular police officers.
As a crime scene investigator, you will be required to perform tasks such as taking fingerprints of deceased victims, collecting evidence, ensuring that a crime scene is secure and free from contamination, producing written reports and giving evidence in court.
In our previous blog, we have covered the behavioural expectations of a crime scene investigator in more detail. Now, let’s look at the actual selection process for becoming a scenes of crime officer.
How To Become A Scenes Of Crime Officer: The Selection Process
There are a number of different stages to becoming a crime scene investigator. Each force will have their own selection criteria. However, the basic structure of recruitment will usually consist of the following:
- An online application form
- An assessment centre
- An interview
- A medical/physical examination, including an eyesight test
- A period of training with the police force, to bring you up to speed with crime scene investigator requirements
Stage 1 – Application Form
The very first stage of the process is an online application form. Regardless of the force that you are applying to, this will be the first step. The application form will ask you a variety of personal questions, including:
- Your age
- Your full name
- Your criminal record
- What qualifications you have and your past work experience
Along with these questions, you will also be asked competency based questions. Competency based questions will assess you based on the key behaviours expected for the role.
A sample question might look like this:
Scenes of Crime Officers are required to have great attention to detail. Tell us why having attention to detail is important to you, and how you think it will help you in this role.
Answering this question should be done in two stages. Firstly, you need to show the constabulary that you are someone with fantastic attention to detail (a core competency of the role), and secondly, you need to show your level of research and knowledge, in demonstrating how attention to detail fits in with the role itself.
So, your answer to this question should read a little something like this:
Attention to detail is extremely important to me. I have always been a meticulous and thorough person, and I have put this skill to use on numerous occasions during my professional career. I know that attention to detail is extremely important to this role, and that is one of the reasons that I believe I’d be a great fit. From my research, I have learned that crime scene investigators are required to cast a meticulous eye over every single element of a crime scene, spotting everything and anything that could be used for clues.
Obviously, your full answer should be longer than this, but hopefully this gives you some idea of how to respond to a question of this nature.
Stage 2 – Assessment Centre
Stage 2 will very much depend on the constabulary that you are applying to. There’s a possibility that some constabularies will ask you to take a phone interview, or even complete another questionnaire online, following the initial application form. However, some constabularies will send you directly to an assessment centre, if you are successful. At the assessment centre, you will take a variety of different tests. If you want to learn how to become a scenes of crime officer, revising for these tests is extremely important. The tests could include:
Written reports. In these exercises, you’ll be required to read through some information, and then produce a written report based on what you have read. This is a skill that replicates real crime investigator work, as you will need to complete regular paper based reports, based on the cases that you have investigated. The assessors will score you based how well you have interpreted the information provided, the details you have spotted, the quality of your grammar and the coherency of your sentences.
Group exercise. At the assessment centre, there is a good chance that you will be asked to take a group exercise. This will require you to sit in a room with several other people, and sit and discuss a case file. The aim of this exercise is to demonstrate your teamwork and problem solving skills. The assessor will judge you based on how well you communicate with the rest of the group. This is again, a reflection of real crime investigator work, where you will need to correspond with other members of the policing team on a day to day basis.
Puzzle and logic based questions. There is also a good chance that you will be required to solve logic and puzzles based questions too. These types of question will assess you based on scenarios that you are likely to encounter during the real work of a crime scene investigator. For example, you might be given a picture of a crime scene, or a description of an event, and asked to pick out key clues and offer explanations for why things are the way they are in the picture. Practicing for this is a great way to learn how to become a scenes of crime officer.
Stage 3 – Interview
There are two options for the interview. Firstly, there is a chance that you will be required to conduct an interview at the assessment centre itself. If so, this will likely be in the form of a structured interview, whereby the interview will be conducted under strict timed conditions, and assess you based on the core competencies.
Alternatively, you may not be asked to take part in a structured interview, and will move straight on to the final interview. This will be a lengthy interview with 2 or 3 members of the police department that you have applied to join, where you will be questioned on everything from your motivation for joining the force, to your knowledge of the core competencies. This is a key part of how to become a scenes of crime officer.
Stage 4 – Physical check-up and further training
Finally, if you pass the interview, you’ll be required to undertake a physical examination. Here, aspects such as your eyesight (very important for a scenes of crime officer) will be tested. After you pass this, you’ll be accepted into the force, and made to take a significant period of training prior to visiting actual crime scenes.