Criminal Intelligence Analyst

The Job and What's Involved

Criminal intelligence analysts collect, collate and evaluate data to analyse patterns of crime. They study data and crime patterns from different sources of information or intelligence to build up a picture of suspects and their activities, to help prevent future crimes being committed. Their work may include:

  • Checking computer and paper-based crime reports.
  • Mapping geographical crime 'hot spots', using specialist software.
  • Working out patterns of crime, such as times committed and locations.
  • Analysing criminal networks using special computer software.
  • Suspect profiling.
  • Using databases to input and extract crime data.

The information may be paper based or computer generated. They may have to provide reports and briefings to other intelligence and security personnel or government ministers.

Analysts may work on investigations with local police forces or on major enquiries of national and international importance. They often co-ordinate their efforts with colleagues from other departments, such as surveillance, community policing or other law enforcement agencies. They may specialise in areas such as:

- Road policing
- Burglary
- Car theft
- Antisocial behaviour
- Serious organised crime
- Drug trafficking
- Financial crime, such as money laundering
- Military intelligence
- Anti-terrorism

An analyst examines all the intelligence surrounding these incidents, but most of their work is trying to prevent and disrupt criminal or terrorist activity rather than analysing crimes after they have happened. Much of the work of intelligence analysts goes unnoticed. If an intended crime does not take place, then they have been successful.

Intelligence analysts often have to take a long-term approach to their work, taking their time to analyse all the different sources of information and building up an accurate picture of a situation. Sometimes their work is much more reactive and involves making quick decisions and turning information round quickly.

Most criminal intelligence analysts work office hours, but some posts may involve shift work. A major investigation may involve working very antisocial hours at short notice. There may be some opportunities for part-time work and flextime.

Intelligence analysts are usually office based. They spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, studying different sources of information, and communicating by email or telephone. They may also attend meetings with colleagues from other departments. Some jobs involve travel throughout the country and overseas.

Starting salaries range from around £16,000 to £20,000 a year. Once trained, a graduate criminal intelligence analyst can earn between around £22,000 and £35,000.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Criminal intelligence analysts work in investigation units in:

  • Police forces.
  • Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships in local authorities.
  • The Security Service (MI5).
  • Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), also known as MI6.
  • HM Revenue and Customs.
  • Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).
  • UK Border Agency (UKBA).
  • The Prison Service.

There are opportunities throughout the country. There may be opportunities to work overseas.

Job vacancy information can be found on employer website's and on sites such as From time to time, employers organise recruitment campaigns and advertise in the local or national press or through TV advertising.

There is a growing need for criminal intelligence analysts to provide reliable and detailed information. However, it is a career choice which is growing in popularity, so there are usually more applicants than vacancies.

Education and Training

All employers require applicants to have the right to live and work in the UK (which means being resident in the UK for three years for non-UK citizens). Some employers, such as MI5, require a much longer period of residence in the UK. Most employers also require medical and security clearance. The extent of the vetting depends on the employer and may include checks on family and friends. Applicants have to declare criminal convictions.

Entry requirements vary according to the employer. Most police forces expect candidates to have five or more GCSE's (A*-C) including English, maths and a science and some require two A levels or equivalent.

The Diploma in public services (available from September 2010) may be relevant for this area of work.

Applicants increasingly have first degrees or postgraduate qualifications. Any degree subject is acceptable, although criminology is particularly useful. Previous experience of law enforcement is desirable but not essential. As a guide, minimum requirements for entry onto a degree course are normally two A levels and five GCSE's (A*-C), usually to include English and maths, or equivalent.

Intelligence agencies such as MI5 and SIS have highly structured recruitment schemes, open only to graduates or those with an equivalent level of education and relevant work experience. Recruitment to the security services can take many months.

For jobs in the security services, fluency in a foreign language is an advantage.

There are a growing number of criminology courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level, which often include modules in criminal intelligence and analysis. The Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science at University College London (UCL) runs a range of relevant courses, including a certificate and diploma in crime analysis and MSc degrees in crime science and countering organised crime and terrorism.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

National agencies provide structured training, followed by a programme of career development. MI5 staff undergo an induction programme, provided by the service's academy, to meet the needs of the job role, and are encouraged to undertake further training and development throughout their careers.

Most training is followed by a probationary period lasting from six months to two years.

A criminal intelligence analyst with the police force learns on the job and may be sent on a specialist operatives' training course. Some forces run their own structured training programme.

Formal training is likely to include:

  • Specialist computer skills, for example using GIS (geographical information systems) software.
  • Crime pattern analysis.
  • Courtroom skills.
  • Specialist skills such as telephone analysis.
  • Legislation surrounding areas such as surveillance.
  • Data protection.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A criminal intelligence analyst should:

  • Have computer skills, especially in the use of spreadsheets and databases.
  • Be able to understand and interpret data such as diagrams and charts.
  • Be able to make balanced judgements.
  • Have an enquiring mind.
  • Be able to work independently.
  • Have persistence in pursuing leads.
  • Have oral and written communication skills, including presentation skills.
  • Be willing to work long hours when necessary.
  • Be able to prioritise.
  • Respect the classified and confidential nature of the information.

Your Long Term Prospects

Most criminal intelligence analysts start in a support role. With experience and further training, they may become senior analysts and could eventually head their own departments as intelligence managers. Some move into more operational roles.

Some agencies offer the opportunity to work overseas and may require their analysts to move frequently and sometimes at short notice.

There may be opportunities to move into the private sector.

Get Further Information

Jill Dando Institute of Crime Science,
University College London, Brook House,
2-16 Torrington Place, London WC1E 7HN
Tel: 020 3108 3206

MI5 Careers. 0845 450 2152

Police Service

Secret Intelligence Service (SIS),
PO Box 1300, London SE1 1BD

Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA),
PO Box 8000, London SE11 5EN

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