Specialising in investigation is a popular career pathway in policing. And some forces like the Metropolitan Police let you join straight into a trainee detective role – you don’t always have to complete a probationary period as a frontline police constable before you apply.

As a detective constable, you’ll typically work on varied investigations, including ‘volume and priority’ investigations such as theft and burglaries, domestic abuse and hate crime incidents, knife crime and missing persons.

As you gain more experience, you’ll be tasked with investigating more serious crimes, like serious sexual offences and crimes against vulnerable adults.

Here’s a bit more about what being a detective involves:

  • Taking into account available resources and priorities, you’ll identify and plan your own investigative actions.
  • You’ll use relevant powers to arrest and apprehend suspects and issue special warnings.
  • You’ll complete risk assessments and support victims during investigations.
  • You’ll collect intelligence and evidence from a range of sources, including crime reports, victims, witnesses and suspects.
  • You’ll be responsible for recording and retaining evidence in a way that makes is admissible in court so that it helps bring offenders to justice.
  • You’ll also prepare reports on the outcome of investigations to ensure there’s an accurate audit trail.

To be a good detective, you also need to have excellent communication skills – you need to be able to listen, be empathetic and tuned in to people’s reactions. And the ability to break down a complex problem helps you plan and prioritise your investigations.

This is just one way your police career could take you. Find out more about career progression.

And if you're interested in joining the police as a trainee detective, contact your preferred force to see if they have detective routes available.

What other skills does a good detective need?

Listen to detectives from Kent Police give their views on what makes a good detective.

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