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How to Become a Fingerprint Officer

If you have an analytical mind and if you are passionate about working with police forces for crime reduction, you may consider becoming a fingerprint officer.

Fingerprint officers are trained people who analyse and compare fingerprints taken from crime scenes so as to identify offenders. Their primary job is to provide fingerprint identification service for the force.

Job

As a fingerprint officer, you are expected to process and identify prints sent in through various means such as on police forms, from crime scenes, etc. You may have to perform various tasks such as:

  • Classifying records and maintaining fingerprint databases
  • Undertaking comparison of fingerprints using traditional and developing techniques in support of the detection of crime
  • Attending and examining crime scenes for fingerprint evidence
  • Preparing and presenting evidence in court when required as an expert witness for forensic fingerprint matters
  • Scanning police fingerprint forms into the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System
  • Comparing fingerprints against the National Fingerprint Database to produce a list of likely matches
  • Analysing prints and marks to uncover links between crimes scenes
  • Collecting fingerprint samples from the deceased at the morgue
  • Mentoring and developing trainee fingerprint officers

Working Hours and Conditions

You usually work 37 hours a week. You may have to work shifts, weekends and on-call rotas as part of your duty.

You spend most of your time in a laboratory or at the force's fingerprint bureau. You must be prepared for unpleasant tasks at job, for example taking fingerprints from decomposing bodies.

Remuneration Scheme

Starting level 

 £16,000 to £21,000 a year

After experience

 £24,500 to £31,500 a year

Source: nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk

Education

To become a fingerprint officer, you need to complete your high school diploma or GED. For this, you need a minimum of five GCSEs (A-C) including Mathematics, English and a science subject, or equivalent qualifications. Some forces may ask for A levels or similar.

After this, you need to have completed a four year bachelor's degree in college with a major sequence in forensic science or criminal justice.

You may also consider doing a certification program offered by The International Association for Identification.

You usually require a full current driving license when seeking employment. Previous work experience in the police or analytical job is often advantageous.

Training

Once employed, you are trained on the basic principles of fingerprinting and its history, collection methods and analysis. Your employer further encourages you forward for the National Fingerprint Learning Program.

This course combines self-study, periods of residential training and the completion of work-based evidence portfolios. The course generally takes three to four years for completion and has various stages to be completed. On the successful completion of this course, you are granted an expert status following which you have yourself included on the National Register of Fingerprint Experts.

You may consider referring to College of Policing - Harperley Hall for professional development opportunities in this field.

Skills and Interests Needed

To be a successful fingerprint officer, it is vital that you demonstrate the following:

  • Calmness and patience
  • Excellent organisational skills
  • Good problem solving skills
  • Methodical approach towards work
  • Be able to work effectively in a team
  • Impeccable communication skills
  • Flexible nature and adaptability to changing work situations
  • Be able to pay attention to detail
  • Ability to maintain accuracy whilst doing repetitive work
  • Proficiency in working with computers
  • Logical reasoning skills
  • Be able to handle work pressure
  • Data Protection Act awareness

Career Prospects

As a fingerprint officer, you may find easy employment with the fingerprint bureau, which is part of a force's scientific services department (sometimes called a scientific support unit). You may also find employment with: 

  • Law enforcement agency 
  • Local police departments 
  • State and federal level law enforcement agencies 
  • Other agencies such as hospitals, governments, private security firms, etc

After gaining significant experience, your career may progress to supervisory roles or you may get promoted to the roles of mentoring and training officers. You may also move on to work in other areas of law enforcement.

To look for vacancies, you may refer to Police.UK - directory of UK police forces.

This versatile job is a task of only very serious contenders; the job is complex and calls for a lot of work. You can actually make a lot of difference out of this job.

 

Image source: https://c2.staticflickr.com/

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