Before I joined Bedfordshire Police in 2014, I spent 11 years in the Royal Military Police and worked around the world, including the UK, Germany, Canada, Kenya, Iraq, Kuwait and South East Asia.
My time in the military, working in so many different places with people from such varied backgrounds and cultures, taught me one of my biggest skills, which is the ability to communicate with others on a personal level. It’s not just about what you say, it’s also about your body language and how you express yourself, and how you learn to adapt your style to suit those you interact with.
When I decided to leave the military, I looked at several different police forces around the country, but one of the appeals of Bedfordshire Police was the opportunities it offered compared to others, and speaking with friends who had made a similar transition to civilian life to work for the police, confirmed what I’d thought.
Working in a larger force presented a lot of options, but moving around could prove difficult due to the limited number of vacancies they might have, whereas Bedfordshire is a smaller county force and still offers the same opportunities, such as counter terrorism, firearms, roads policing and airport policing.
Originally, I wanted to join the firearms unit, but after working on investigations, and realising that I enjoyed evidence gathering, interviewing suspects and dealing with the more serious crimes, being a detective seemed like the natural direction for me to choose, and I am now a Trainee Investigator working on serious offences, and working to protect and help the most vulnerable in our society.
I recently passed my National Investigators Exam and will spend the next two years becoming a fully qualified detective with a view to perhaps joining the Major Crime Unit, or working in counter terrorism policing.
When you say you’re a detective, many people would think you spend your time solving robberies or dealing with violent crime, but there are many different departments and crime types for an investigator. My current role is in the Protecting Vulnerable People on child abuse cases where due to their age, victims cannot necessarily speak out for themselves and it’s my job to help them and find a safe, nurturing environment to help them on their journey to recovery, whilst bringing perpetrators to justice.
Every day is completely different and you never know what you’ll find when you walk through the door, but even after the toughest of days, knowing that I can improve someone’s life and make a positive difference for them keeps me going.
It’s essential that you’re able to work as part of team in this job, whether that’s on an investigation, or seeking out colleagues and others for advice or support, and even though I work within a specialist detective team, I still get involved in front line policing from time to time and am a trained taser officer and a public order officer.
Being a police officer can sometimes affect your personal life, and family and friends may find it hard to adjust to your working hours initially, as you will work nights, weekends, and bank holidays, and crime doesn’t stop for Christmas. But they will also grow to understand that you love the work you do, and appreciate that sometimes you might not want to talk about it.
There’s a huge network of support that comes with the job, as well as that from your team mates, supervisors and up through the ranks, there are also various groups and networks within the force such as the Police Federation, occupational health, wellbeing and mental health team as well as the disability support group, BAME, LGBT+ support groups; all you have to do is ask.
If you have patience, are organised and enjoy solving puzzles, have an enquiring mind and are prepared to challenge the first answers you are given, then a career as a detective may well suit you.