Role spotlight - Undercover Operative

Every police recruit has to complete a two or three year probationary period on the front line. But after your probation, there’s a huge range of different positions you could progress to, including the role of an undercover operative.

Role purpose

As an undercover operative, you’ll be tasked with establishing and building relationships with those who have committed crimes in order to gain information during an investigation. To be successful undercover, you’ll need to be able to: 

  • Thoroughly research the area, people and subject matter involved. 
  • Attend operational briefings to identify, receive and agree objectives of the operation and carry out extensive risk assessments. 
  • Develop a robust cover story including what you wear to ensure your personal safety and success of the undercover activities.
  • Form appropriate relationships with individuals involved in criminal activity to help maintain cover whilst delivering on the objectives of the investigation.  
  • Gather, corroborate and handle intelligence and evidence with transparency and integrity to support potential legal proceedings.
  • Work effectively with other undercover operatives and surveillance teams to ensure your own and other people’s safety at all times.

A key part of this role is being able to work under pressure. You need to be adaptable, developing a deep understanding of the environment you’ll be entering. Problem solving skills are essential, as well as the ability to manage and defuse difficult situations. 

But don't worry, you'll receive all the training and support you need to help you in your role. As a potential undercover operative, you’d be thoroughly vetted and psychologically assessed to make sure you’ve got the mental resilience to cope with the intense demands of working covertly. And regular ongoing assessments continue throughout your undercover career to make sure your resilience and wellbeing are maintained.

If you decide on an undercover role, there’s also the option to become an online operative. The skillset is the same, except the online role requires a greater level of technical ability. 

Success in this role could see your career progress to becoming an Undercover Advanced Operative, which would see you carrying out more complex, longer-term deployments.

Undercover policing is just one way your police career could take you after successfully completing your probation. Find out more about career progression


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