Our investigations teams work within our Operations function. Operations covers three main areas of investigative work:
- Regional investigations - these teams are located across England and Wales and are responsible for leading our high quality, robust independent investigations.
- Directorate of Major Investigations - this team deals with large scale, resource-intensive investigations, that are generally complex and high-profile.
- Hillsborough investigation - based in Warrington, this team is responsible for our independent investigation into police actions following the Hillsborough disaster.
As a trainee investigator, you will focus on developing the skills and knowledge you need to become a fully accredited investigator. If you have good analytical skills, an eye for detail and the ability to work with people from a variety of backgrounds, you can be involved in our high-profile, complex investigations.
Being in our investigations team is a role you can never fully prepare for, but our 12–24-month trainee investigator programme will ensure you have the skills you need to unearth the facts and inspire confidence in your work. As a member of one of our teams, you will take part in interviews, collect and analyse evidence, attend post-mortems, and prepare materials for court or inquest proceedings. In fact, you will play a major role in helping us to deliver high-quality investigations that meet the diverse needs of complainants and families.
Sometimes, it can be tough and emotionally challenging. Many of our investigations will be in the public eye and the case may come under intense media scrutiny. You might have to attend post-mortems and deal with people who are understandably frustrated and angry.
While our training and support will help you to deal with different situations, your character will be equally important. You should have the ability to empathise and communicate sympathetically with people in all circumstances, as well as the resilience to adapt to different situations.
You will need an analytical mind, the drive to discover the right answers and the resilience to handle investigations diplomatically and objectively.
Hear from Zara and Calum, our trainee investigators:
Working closely with bereaved families, complainants and the police to establish the facts, you’ll be part of the team conducting or supporting a range of investigations. This will involve gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses and complainants, taking statements and preparing files for different cases.
You will need to act fairly and thoroughly in every investigation, reassuring complainants or bereaved relatives of your impartiality and independence from the police. With a strong analytical approach and a keen eye for detail when gathering evidence, you will have the character to work with people from a variety of backgrounds. This means you should be a confident interviewer, with the ability to adapt your communication style to achieve the best results.
Being an investigator can be a highly charged role, attending post-mortems and speaking with grieving families at their most distressed. So you will need to be resilient and focus on achieving a fair result for everyone who turns to us for help.
You will be involved in totally unique investigations, so this is a role you can never be fully prepared for. That is why we’ll ensure you have ongoing training and development to keep your skills fresh. With the character to share your insights and knowledge with colleagues, you will enjoy the scope to influence investigations and ultimately, social justice. You will be part of a diverse team that represents the range of people who rely on us for independent support. Occasionally, you will also need to work unsociable and extended hours as a member of our 24-hour on-call facility.
If you have some investigatory experience, or a background in an inspection, regulatory, enforcement or similar role, this is an excellent opportunity to develop your skills further, working on a variety of high-profile investigations.
As a lead investigator, you will be involved in every aspect of investigations into alleged crime and misconduct, from setting out the initial terms of reference, to collecting evidence, interviewing witnesses, drawing conclusions, and writing a final report, many of which are published.
As well as visiting incident scenes to ensure all evidence is preserved and recovered, you will also be expected to attend post-mortems and brief pathologists. This means you will need to be resilient and focus on discovering the facts. Your investigations will often be under public scrutiny, and you will be the main point of contact for complainants, bereaved families and other interested parties. So, you will need to be a confident and personable communicator, with the ability to stay calm and focused under pressure.
To ensure you’re always prepared for the unique challenges of our work, we will give you ongoing training and support. Being a lead investigator is a complex and ultimately fulfilling role, offering you the opportunity to work with every sector of the community and have a positive impact on their lives. Your understanding of different communities and your ability to empathise with and relate to them will be crucial.
You will need strong analytical skills, developed in a role where you led investigations. This could have been gained in areas such as social services, trading standards, regulatory bodies, risk, audit, probation, or enforcement. Occasionally, you will also need to work unsociable and extended hours as a member of our 24-hour on-call facility.
Hear from Rachael, a lead investigator:
You will lead and develop a team of investigators and lead investigators ensuring that they deliver high performance and conduct investigations fairly, thoroughly and independently. At the same time, you will be at the heart of our organisation during a period of continuing change, making a significant contribution to our strategic direction.
This is a varied and challenging managerial role, as you will focus on improving your team’s performance, ensuring investigations are conducted in accordance with our standards and guidance. As an advisor and coach, you will challenge the investigative process and ensure your team draws on the expertise and advice of relevant teams to support their investigations.
As a member of the operational management team, you will help to build our investigative capacity by developing investigative skills and identifying areas for improvement in investigative practice.
From time-to-time you will also lead investigations yourself, usually into cases that are particularly complex. This will involve contact with a wide range of people, such as bereaved families, police officers and local communities. As part of our national 24-hour on-call rota, you will need to be prepared to respond to serious incidents at any time.
If you have the strategic understanding, resilience, and investigative ability to lead our teams in a series of high-profile investigations, this is an outstanding opportunity to develop your management career and influence social justice. You will need previous experience in team leadership and conducting investigations in areas such as social services, trading standards, regulatory bodies, risk, audit, probation, or enforcement.
Hear from Susan, an operations team leader:
You will lead and develop a team of investigators and lead investigators ensuring that they deliver high performance and conduct investigations fairly, thoroughly and independently.
In this strategic role, you will not only ensure our investigations are conducted fairly and independently to the highest quality, but you will also drive performance, productivity, quality and consistency through local leadership. You will manage relationships with people involved in investigations – such as bereaved families, police forces, communities and coroners, and colleagues across our own organisation. As a member of our national management team, you will also contribute to the strategic direction of the IOPC as we continue to evolve to meet the increasing demands on our resources. As part of our national 24-hour on-call rota, you will need to be prepared to respond to serious incidents at any time.
You will need to be a strategic thinker and a persuasive and influential leader, with a record of leading and improving operational delivery. Your experience of managing teams delivering investigations or appeal determinations will be crucial.
If you are used to leading major investigations in any sector, this is an opportunity to test your analytical and leadership skills while helping to increase confidence in the police complaints system. This could have been gained in areas such as social services, trading standards, risk, audit, probation, or enforcement. Most importantly, you will be committed to remaining independent and impartial and acting with integrity, honesty and justice.
Hear from Rashpal, an operations manager:
Training and development
The IOPC Investigator Development Programme consists of either 9 or 12-week courses. We have two versions: Trainee and Direct Entry (for investigators and lead investigators). Each training programme is designed to broadly reflect the 70:20:10 learning model, with 70% of knowledge coming from job-related experiences, 20% from working with others, 10% from formal learning. This stresses the importance of practical experience and social learning to consolidate periods of formal training. Formal training programmes are in addition to workplace assessment and accreditation.
Core training programmes cover key aspects of the role, including powers of an IOPC investigator, interviewing skills, scene management, post incident procedures, principles of disclosure and report writing. Lead investigators receive additional training covering all aspects of leading an investigation including strategy, decision making and policy writing. Your training may involve staying away from home for a period of time.
Investigators and trainee investigators are registered onto the BTEC Level 5 Professional Certificate and expected to complete within 18 months.
Lead investigators are registered onto the BTEC Level 5 Professional Diploma in Leading Investigations and expected to complete within 24 months.
To achieve accreditation, investigators are required to demonstrate their knowledge and practical application, through a work-based portfolio of evidence.
BTEC Level 5 Professional Certificate in IOPC Investigations/Diploma in Leading IOPC Investigations
The BTEC Level 5 qualifications were developed for the IOPC and awarded by Pearson, the UK’s largest Awarding Body. It is a mandatory requirement for all operational investigators to achieve accreditation, which provides the opportunity to:
- develop and apply knowledge of key legislation and procedures governing the police misconduct system and investigation of criminal offences
- demonstrate core investigative skills
- develop knowledge of the processes and investigative principles followed in respect of referrals from the police and other agencies under the remit of the IOPC
- develop the knowledge and skills required to lead IOPC investigations (Diploma only)
Continuous Professional Development
Continuous professional development takes place on a national and regional basis. This includes experiential visits to relevant police units, external speakers and national training events, identified on an annual basis in line with organisational requirements.
Investigators are also responsible for their own continuing professional development and maintaining competence as it applies to their role. Personal and professional development is supported by our personal development process called DRIVE.