Joining the police is something I had focused on from a young age. I had good experiences with officers in Merseyside when they responded to a break in at my address when I was in high school and I wanted to do what they did for me for others. I joined the police knowing that I eventually wanted to become a detective. I spent three years working on response in Chester and a year working on the Domestic Abuse (DA) pilot in Chester. Working on response builds that foundation of knowledge and initial investigation skills but I found that I wanted to be able to spend more time working on incidents and seeing them through. When I moved to the DA team I found I was able to get a better insight to the work being done by detectives on Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Public Protection Directorate (PPD) as my unit was attached to a CID block. As a result I was able to assist CID with investigations when they involved a domestic element and learn from the other detectives and sergeants. Specifically I was able to gain a better grasp of their decision making skills which made a huge difference when I was considering applying for my aide.
What has your training been like? What detective role did you go in to first?
After passing the national investigators exam I was scaled for a seven week course called the Initial Serious and Complex PIP2 Detective Investigators Programme (ISCPIP). These weeks were split into different areas and skills that we needed to learn in order to complete the course. These include video interviewing of intimidated and vulnerable witnesses, suspect interviewing, HYDRA* scenarios, Public Protection Directorate (PPD) strands and more. From the beginning you’re made aware that this is going to be an intense course because there is so much to fit into the seven weeks. The course has experts and trainers coming in who have a particular skillset or experience which they can discuss with us. This included talks from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), Corporate Communications, Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) and Senior Investigating Officers (SIOs). Throughout the course you are tested on your practical abilities to interview and plan. The trainers focus on the practical aspects because the legal aspects are what the exam was for. It did feel a little like being thrown in the deep end but you’re not alone in this and that helped me a lot when I felt like I was struggling. After the course I was attached to the Dedicated Rape Unit (DRU) in Chester for three months before heading to Chester CID for six months. Once my portfolio has been completed I will be signed off and I’ve just been told my permanent posting is on Runcorn CID.
* HYDRA is the immersive learning suite at Padgate (Cheshire’s Training Campus) which runs live scenarios for the trainee DCs. It’s controlled by the trainers who feed in these incidents and the DCs have to react to the information and make decisions on what to do/when/where/why. Their decisions then impact the information that then comes through for them.
What is it like being a detective?
I’m currently finishing up my six month attachment on Chester Criminal Investigation Department (CID). I’m working on a block with four other detective constables (DCs) and a detective sergeant (DS). I’m currently finishing up my portfolio and working on a lot of case files for jobs that I have been attached to. The team in Chester has been a huge support and have made sure that I’ve been getting involved in everything I need to get through my aide. CID feels like the jack of all trades. There is something new to go to every day and you’re not contained to a single offence type. This means having to adapt and learn on the job when there are things you don’t know. I feel that the shifts offer a better work life balance as I’m only working nights when I’m due on County Cover. This definitely suits me better.
What are some of your greatest achievements on the job?
I recently had a case go to Crown Court for the first time in relation to a firearms offence. This incident was high profile in Chester and involved a lot of other departments. It was the first time I had really seen a case from start to finish and I was incredibly happy with the work I did on it. Especially with the difficulties presented by the suspect providing a false alibi and non-engaging victims. The defendant was convicted at court and received a prison sentence.
Would you recommend this job to people? If so, what preparations, expectations should they have?
If this is a role that you see yourself in then I would suggest committing to it. What I mean by this is when you’re applying for the role, especially when gathering evidence for your application, you will start to look at the jobs you attend on response differently and see how they can apply to initial investigative skills. For response officers, going to scenes of incidents and working through golden hour principles; preparing and taking on incidents that are outside of your comfort zone; interviewing whenever you can – will all help build up experience for when you apply to be a Detective Constable (DC). Looking for secondments or working on incidents closely with DCs in your LPU is also something I would recommend as you can get an understanding if this is something you want to do. I think the biggest quality someone should have when considering a detective role is having an open mind. Moving from response to detective is a complete change of pace and I know I found it hard at first to adjust to the more methodical way of working on CID as opposed to response where I was going from job to job. Having an open mind and being enthusiastic about learning on the job are key in my opinion.