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Shona Birkby

Banner image of detective with text that says "“Since starting my detective journey, I have learnt how to work with partner agencies including social services. The specialist interviewing course will allow me to interview victims of crime and achieve the

During my 20 years with the force I have had a very varied career and have worked in many different units, from response to roads policing and I’m now on a new journey training as a detective.

I wanted to join Bedfordshire Police because it is a small force and I wanted to be part of an organisation where you are known personally, rather than just your collar number.

My policing journey has taken me down new and exciting paths. I started my career patrolling Dunstable, after my two-year probation I applied for the Roads Policing Unit, which is part of the tri-force collaboration so I got to work with colleagues from Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire. I then went onto the ANPR intercept team and from there I moved into the collision investigation unit where I qualified as a forensic collision investigator investigating fatal and serious injury collisions. I am now training to become a detective on the protecting vulnerable people unit (PVP).

I have always wanted to help people and was given a really great opportunity to train as a detective and work within PVP so I get to help children and vulnerable adults. Social services were involved in my life as a child so this line of work is close to my heart.

My 20 years’ experience as a police officer has helped my transition into the detective role. However, it is a different process to what I am used to. During the trainee investigator course, you have to study for and sit an exam whilst completing a portfolio of evidence. But it opens the doors to numerous training courses including specialist interviewing courses.

Since starting my detective journey, I have learnt how to work with partner agencies including social services. The specialist interviewing course will allow me to interview victims of crime and achieve the best evidence for the crimes that we investigate. I work with an amazing supportive team which makes the role far more enjoyable. It’s the people that make the job.  

Being a police officer, regardless of the role, can be very emotive. I joined to help people. You don’t always know the impact your time and experience have on individuals or their lives and if you affect them for a short or long period of time. If I still feel I am helping someone, even in a small way, that will always be my personal incentive to come back to work.  

In policing you never know what the day ahead has instore for you and no two incidents are the same. It challenges your knowledge and confidence in how best to deal with situations but at the same time, this is what makes the so job enjoyable.

In all of my policing roles we all support each other as a team. The management team are great at listening and offering support. You are never on your own if you need support.

There are long hours with being a police officer at times and that is no different as a detective, however, I feel like I have quality time with my family having moved into a detective role. It has its moments of being fast paced when a job comes in, however, there is time to sit and concentrate on jobs when you need it. I am also on a flexible working pattern which caters for a more family friendly work life balance. To continue pushing my career forward, I hope to go for promotion and be a sergeant in five years’ time.

To be a great detective you need professional curiosity, good communications skills and an ability to be able to speak with people about sensitive subjects, that are very emotive.  I think you also need to have good written skills especially as you have to submit complex files to the Crown Prosecution Service. You also need to have the ability to think outside of the box when looking at new ways to investigate crimes, especially with technology changing.

If you are thinking of policing and want to create an exciting and varied career my advice is to go for it, every day is a new experience, good or bad. You will love it.

Banner image that shows detective and text that says "“I have always wanted to help people and was given a really great opportunity to train as a detective and work within PVP so I get to help children and vulnerable adults. Social services were involved

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