I wanted to be a detective before I joined the police. I did an attachment with the British Transport Police through my university course and I spent a day with Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and ended up attending an armed robbery of a Cash in Transit van. It was brilliant and I loved the detail that the detectives went into and how they approached the enquiries. I was set on being a detective from that date. In terms of my preparation I would always look to take on those investigations that were protracted and often those where there was a high risk of harm to the victims and witnesses in that case. It was my proactive selection of those jobs which gave me the skills I needed to be a detective and I’ve always been a firm believer that if you want something enough then go and get it. I worked in different areas of Cheshire and picking up a wide variety of investigations where I was able to hone my skills as a PIP Level 1 investigator*.
PIP Level 1 Investigator = uniformed volume crime investigator. Attending jobs such as: low level assaults, shop lifting, theft offences
PIP Level 2 investigator = Detective serious and complex investigator. Attending jobs such as: robbery, burglary, serious assaults, rape.
Which detective role did you go in to first?
I did my detectives a little differently from ‘the norm’ in that I was a promoted Sergeant and was allowed to complete my detective training at that rank. I was making decisions as a Sergeant but the detectives training was decision making with a real emphasis on ensuring all of your decisions are logged about what you have done as well as what you have chosen not to do. The training was very in depth and explored all areas in which a PIP Level 2 investigator might work. The training was seven weeks long and testing at times but it does prepare you well for going out into the ‘real world’ of being a PIP Level 2 investigator. During my time as a trainee detective I worked on everything from child sex offences, attempted murders to a burglary operation which ended with numerous convictions at court and a Chief Constable’s commendation. I have since become a Detective Sergeant and I am privileged to manage a fantastic team of detectives who are extremely diligent in their investigations and put serious criminals behind bars which is what I certainly joined ‘the job’ for.
What is it like being a detective?
Being a detective is not an easy job but it is massively rewarding. I am currently a Detective Sergeant on Criminal Investigation Department (CID) but I also have the role of being the SPOC for Domestic Abuse at Chester and oversee the running of a Domestic Abuse Team. It is an extremely varied role which keeps me very busy but it is brilliant. From managing robberies, serious assaults, sexual offence investigations to managing Domestic Violence Protection Orders (DVPOs) and helping victims get out of the cycle of domestic abuse. There are certain sacrifices you have to make in that if there is a job in where it’s all hands on deck to get the job home and a charge, then there are days when you will be doing some long shifts. It’s par for the course. There is a real team ethos and you’re not going to be on your own whilst you do it and when you get off the phone to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) having secured that charge you and your team have been working on for hours, there’s nothing else quite like it. It’s not always fast-paced and you’re not quite like a Response officer so there are many days where you get off on time and the shifts are much better for family life. It’s a case of prioritising and I always make sure my staff get their leave and spend time with their families as it is so important to have that work-life balance.
What are some of your greatest achievements on the job?
Some of the biggest achievements in the job are the ones which may not be the jobs where people shout the loudest. My work on the Domestic Abuse Team has been some of the most rewarding; people who have suffered years of domestic abuse and never trusted the police have felt confident enough to work with us and sometimes even feel strong enough to give evidence against their abusers. We’ve had some fantastic results on the team and seen a lot of vulnerable people be able to move on with their lives and persistent offenders identified and managed to reduce the risk they pose to future victims. There have been so many investigations I’ve been proud to be a part of and no one specific job sticks out, but knowing that you’ve been able to contribute to putting dangerous people in prison makes it all worthwhile.
Would you recommend this job to people?
If someone were to ask me what qualities does a detective need I’d say they are many and varied and no one detective is the same. Detectives have an eye for detail; as with all investigations the devil is often in the detail. Detectives are generally patient, as investigations tend to be protracted and complex and take time to get to their conclusion… sometimes years. Detectives need to be tenacious; never wanting to give up until they find what they’re looking for. A detective is someone who isn’t afraid to ask difficult questions or have difficult conversations with people. The very nature of detective work can identify the best and the worst in society and you’ve got to have the resilience to deal with that. If you’re looking to become a detective then investigating domestic abuse can equip you with a great deal of the skills required to become a competent detective. Not being afraid to put your hand up for those jobs which others may not be so keen to take on because they tend to take longer to investigate. As someone who hasn’t necessarily done the usual career pathway for a detective I do see the benefits of a fast track detectives scheme. As long as you’ve got the right person with the right detectives qualities then that should take someone a long way.