Read Melissa's story
I worked in a petrol station as a cashier at around 18-years-old, which is where my spark for wanting to join the police started. I was a victim of armed robbery and the way the police treated me, coming to my aid and supported me through the criminal process really helped, it inspired me to want to do the same for other victims of crime.
I started my policing journey as a special constable with Nottinghamshire Police in 2002, I spent two years as a volunteer and really enjoyed the policing role. I felt it gave me a good insight into the job and I got to learn so much. I took the plunge and joined as a full-time police officer and spent five years in the response role before moving into the detective world in 2010.
I moved to Cambridgeshire and transferred to Bedfordshire Police in 2014. I chose Bedfordshire due to its reputation of being a small force and it had a huge amount of opportunity to grow as a transferee.
My favourite moment as being a detective is changing the life direction of a young criminal who was starting out on the wrong foot, committing criminal offences. After his first prison time, on his release I helped redirect him away from the gangs and into the army where he could build a life away from crime. Being able to make a difference to someone’s life and help them better themselves so they can learn from their mistakes and turn away from a life of crime is really rewarding. The hope that they may pass this helping hand on to others during their life time.
Any policing role makes an impact on your life, there are positives and negatives. My experience as detective is that it does affect your life. You are off late a lot of the time and you can work long hours. If your partner is not in the police it can be difficult to explain your day and sometimes your friends won’t understand why you have cancelled on them and why you are so committed to the job.
There will be some cancelled rest days and sometimes little reward when you need it most - but the little things from your management or members of the public make you realise you did a good job, you persevered and ensured that person got locked away for a long time and is no longer on your streets committing crime.
I have built a good family and friend network and over the years they start to understand and love to hear interesting stories at the dinner table, like cases I have prosecuted or evidence I found by digging! People love the stories and getting a behind the scenes glimpse into the policing world, it gets easier as your family and friends start to understand over the years.
I’ve have received a lot of support during my time as an officer in Bedfordshire Police.
There is a wide range of support groups available, like the BAME support network. They provide help and advice for its members, as well as tutor and mentor to provide educational skills to help further yourself. There is also a number of welfare support groups such as Trauma Risk Management and women’s network, which are all well-staffed and equipped to support officers in times of need. My senior management team always has a door open policy and are really approachable whenever I’ve needed help with anything. As officers we are there to understand during difficult times, we show empathy and share advice every day. So, when things take a turn or we are finding something difficult to deal there is an abundance of support, it really is like an extended family.
What helps me to come back after a tough day is someone always has it tougher. I’m in a role where I can make a difference, it might be small but it’s still a difference and there are people in Bedfordshire that are depending on me.
What makes being a great detective? Being nosey! You want to understand or make sense of the crime. If it feels like something isn’t right then it probably isn’t. If it feels like something doesn’t add up then it doesn’t. You need to have the mindset to think and make sense of the different elements, exploring options outside of the box, finding out if what’s in front of you is possible, asking the questions and not taking no for the answer until you are happy that all options have been explored.
If you’re thinking about the detective role my advice is you will love it. It’s hard work but it’s rewarding most of the time.
Find out more about the detective role by heading over to our detectives career page.