The time must eventually come for every police officer to hang up their uniform and leave the force. But while many former officers may be eager to explore opportunities and try something new, for others, remaining closely involved with the world of law enforcement will be a top priority.
For many policing professionals, this is more than just a job, it's a calling. However, just because you're no longer directly with the force as an officer, this doesn't mean you have to walk away from this life completely. In fact, there are a range of civilian roles, both directly working with the police and with other public agencies, that will be well-suited for former officers.
What's more, employers will often be eager to hire former officers, as the skills and experiences they've picked up during their career will be readily transferable. So what opportunities do you have to stay connected to law enforcement when leaving the police?
Civilian roles within the police
The most obvious career path will be to stay on with a police force in a civilian role. There will often be a wide range of positions with police services for former officers to ensure they can take advantage of their skills and knowledge, in order to support officers and assist with investigations.
Some roles that may be especially suited to former officers include the following:
Civilian investigation officers
These individuals work directly with officers, performing tasks such as gathering evidence and taking statements. You'll need a full understanding of criminal investigation techniques and laws. While these personnel don't have the same range of powers as the police, they do have some warranted powers and their support is indispensable in helping free up detectives' time.
Crime analysts work with data and police intelligence to help identify trends, direct police resources and gain a full picture of what's going on across the force. This can be used directly in investigations to help identify suspects, or on a wider scale to spot areas where police need to be focusing their efforts.
Digital forensics activities are vital to modern police investigations, and require professionals with an analytical mind and strong attention to detail. The examination and reporting of this evidence is essential to many criminal and civil investigations, and the civilian staff who perform these activities will work closely with investigating officers.
Support and outreach workers
Communication and maintaining strong relationships with the community are also vital skills that officers will learn throughout their career. If you're still intent on helping people once you leave the force, there are often a variety of support roles that allow you to work closely with both the police and the public.
Working with other law enforcement agencies
However, the opportunities for former officers don't end with the UK's frontline police forces. There are also several other law enforcement agencies around the country that are always eager to hire skilled and experienced officers.
For example, the National Crime Agency has a wide range of investigative and intelligence roles working on everything from organised crime and illegal firearms to combating cybercrime that could be ideal for those with policing experience. There are even opportunities for overseas deployments as liaison officers.
Elsewhere, services such as the Border Force will also need experienced officers and investigators, and the experience and integrity that a career in the police provides will often be a major selling point.
If you want to remain involved with policing, but in a less direct role, there may be opportunities in the civil service, at departments such as the Home Office or HM Revenue and Customs, with investigative and analytical skills often in high demand.
The clearances needed to work with the police
Many roles will also require you to have a specific security clearance. However, if you have years of experience in the police force as an officer, you stand a very good chance of obtaining these clearances without any issues.
If you are working directly with the police, the main clearance you'll need is a Non Police Personnel Vetting (NPPV) check. This is required for anyone who might expect to have access to confidential intelligence information, financial and operational assets, or restricted databases such as the Police National Computer.
It is a more in-depth assessment than the basic Disclosure and Barring Service and has several levels, depending on the type of information you'll be expected to have access to and whether you'll need to work without supervision.
Other clearances you may need for jobs with the police include Management Vetting (MV) Clearance and Recruitment Vetting (RV) Clearance. If you are working in other agencies such as the NCA or Home Office, clearances such as Security Check (SC) may also be necessary.