Police inspector

A police inspector


Police inspectors coordinate and supervise a division in a police department. They ensure the division’s compliance with rules and regulations, and monitor the performance of personnel as well as assigning tasks to them. They perform administrative duties to ensure the maintenance of records and reports, and may also develop regulatory guidelines.

Police inspectors typically do the following:

  • Manage and supervise a team of police officers.
  • Maintain law and order
  • Prevent and investigate crimes
  • Handle queries from the public
  • Examine crime scenes to searching for clues and evidence
  • Observe the activities of suspects
  • Analyse evidence in order to identify criminal activity and gather information for court cases
  • Prepare reports on progress of investigation
  • Maintain informational files on suspects
  • Submit reports to apply for arrests or warrants.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to police inspector:

chief inspector
police superintendent
inspector of police

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma is generally the minimum required to work as a police inspector. However, most police inspectors have a more advanced degree, such as an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in social sciences, criminology, law enforcement, or a related field.

Police inspectors usually get this role after being promoted from other positions in a police department, such as police officer or detective.

Police inspectors must often pass a physical fitness test, background checks and a drug screening prior to their hiring.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Police inspector is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Police inspector career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to police inspector.

police detective
private detective
criminal investigator
immigration officer
court bailiff

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of police inspector. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of police inspector with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

police commissioner
intelligence officer
correctional services manager
police trainer

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of police inspector.

  • Criminology: The study of criminal behaviour, such as its causes and nature, its consequences, and control and prevention methods.
  • Law enforcement: The different organisations involved in law enforcement, as well as the laws and regulations in law enforcement procedures.
  • Legal use-of-force: The characteristics of the use-of-force, which is a legal doctrine employed by police and army forces, to regulate acts of violence during interventions. Use-of-force is ought to balance security needs with ethical concerns for the rights and well-being of intruders or suspects.
  • Investigation research methods: The methods and strategies used to conduct police, government intelligence or military investigation research, as well as the research regulations specific to the operation.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of police inspector.

  • Develop investigation strategy: Develop strategies used in an investigation to gather information and intelligence in the most productive way, compliant with legislation, ensuring that the strategy is adapted to each individual case in order to obtain intelligence as efficiently and quickly as possible.
  • Handle evidence: Handle evidence important for a case in a manner compliant with regulations, in order to not affect the state of the evidence in question and to ensure its pristine condition and usability in the case.
  • Analyse legal evidence: Analyse evidence, such as evidence in criminal cases, legal documentation regarding a case, or other documentation that can be regarded as evidence, in order to obtain a clear image of the case and reach resolutions.
  • Manage staff: Manage employees and subordinates, working in a team or individually, to maximise their performance and contribution. Schedule their work and activities, give instructions, motivate and direct the workers to meet the company objectives. Monitor and measure how an employee undertakes their responsibilities and how well these activities are executed. Identify areas for improvement and make suggestions to achieve this. Lead a group of people to help them achieve goals and maintain an effective working relationship among staff.
  • Form operational strategies for law enforcement: Form strategies to turn laws and regulations into operational goals and plans of action to ensure that the law is complied with and offenders receive the correct sentence, fine or other consequence.
  • Examine crime scenes: Examine crime scenes upon arrival to ensure they are not tampered with, and to perform the initial assessments and analyses of what may have occurred, as well as examining the nature of the evidence present.
  • Hear witness accounts: Hear witness accounts during a court hearing or during an investigation to assess the significance of the account, its impact on the case under scrutiny or investigation, and to aid in reaching a conclusion.
  • Ensure law application: Ensure the laws are followed, and where they are broken, that the correct measures are taken to ensure compliance to the law and law enforcement.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of police inspector. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Criminal law: Th legal rules, constitutions and regulations applicable for the punishement of offenders.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of police inspector. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Lead police investigations: Lead investigations in police cases, which involves establishing an investigation strategy, contacting experts, being able to use different methods and points of view, and leading investigative staff.
  • Restrain individuals: Restrain, or control by force, individuals who violate regulations in terms of acceptable behaviour, who present a threat to others, and who perform acts of violence, to ensure the individual is unable to proceed in this negative behaviour and to protect others.
  • Drug investigations: Perform investigations to try and halt the distribution of drugs through illegal and criminal measures, as well as arrest the distributors of illegal drugs.
  • Present evidence: Present evidence in a criminal or civil case to others, in a convincing and appropriate manner, in order to reach the right or most beneficial solution.
  • Investigate forgery cases: Investigate the illegal altering, copying or imitation of articles or goods (for example currency, public records or works of art) used for criminal purposes.
  • Undertake inspections: Undertake safety inspections in areas of concern to identify and report potential hazards or security breaches; take measures to maximise safety standards.
  • Comply with legal regulations: Ensure you are properly informed of the legal regulations that govern a specific activity and adhere to its rules, policies and laws.
  • Use personal protection equipment: Make use of protection equipment according to training, instruction and manuals. Inspect the equipment and use it consistently.
  • Ensure information security: Ensure that the information gathered during surveillance or investigations remains in the hands of those authorised to receive and use it, and does not fall into enemy or otherwise non-authorised individuals’ hands.
  • Ensure compliance with types of weapons: Use different kinds of firearms and other types of weapons and their matching ammunition, in compliance with legal requirements.
  • Conduct research interview: Use professional researching and interviewing methods and techniques to gather relevant data, facts or information, to gain new insights and to fully comprehend the message of the interviewee.
  • Apply knowledge of human behaviour: Practice principles related to group behaviour, trends in society, and influence of societal dynamics.
  • Identify security threats: Identify security threats during investigations, inspections, or patrols, and perform the necessary actions to minimise or neutralise the threat.
  • Coordinate patrols: Coordinate the investigation and inspection of a certain area by assigning patrollers to routes and areas, establishing the area that needs patrolling, and coordinating the activities during the patrol.
  • Write situation reports: Write reports according to specifications and regulations of an organisation on the situation which needs to be reported on, such as the status of an investigation, of intelligence gathering, or of missions and operations.
  • Detain offenders: Keep back offenders and trespassers in a certain area.
  • Train employees: Lead and guide employees through a process in which they are taught the necessary skills for the perspective job. Organise activities aimed at introducing the work and systems or improving the performance of individuals and groups in organisational settings.
  • Maintain operational communications: Maintain communications between different departments of an organisation, between the staff, or during specific operations or missions, to ensure that the operation or mission is successful, or that the organisation functions smoothly.
  • Practice vigilance: Practice vigilance during patrol or other surveillance activities in order to ensure safety and security, to look out for suspicious behaviour or other alarming changes in patterns or activities, and to respond quickly to these changes.
  • Conduct public presentations: Speak in public and interact with those present. Prepare notices, plans, charts, and other information to support the presentation.

ISCO group and title

3355 – Police inspectors and detectives

  1. Police inspector – ESCO
  2. Police and Detectives : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
  3. Chief inspector | Explore careers – National Careers Service
  4. Police Inspectors – Occupations – VTC Occupation Dictionary
  5. Featured image: By Harry Mitchell – Own work, CC BY 3.0
Last updated on December 28, 2022

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