25 January 2021
As part of the national Federation’s month-long focus on detectives, their role and its unique pressures – one Derbyshire detective says one of the biggest challenges is disclosure.
The detective, who wishes to remain anonymous, explains: “The pressure of making sure you have all the disclosure correct is quite heavy because cases can be lost purely on that if it hasn’t been done correctly.
“Another challenge is getting it right and being seen to get it right. There is a lot of work that goes into any investigation and having all of that right and trial-ready is a lot of pressure on you as you want to be able to do the best for your victims.
“These issues can be overcome with self-discipline and checking, checking and checking again!”
A detective since 2005, the officer of 29 years’ service, said they joined up because they were ‘born wanting to be a police officer’.
“I’ve no idea why because none of my family were in the job. I just knew that was what I wanted to do and my parents didn’t question it, just accepted it,” they explained, “I’ve always had a very strong sense of right wrong and loved television programmes like Juliet Bravo and The Bill which just made my need greater!
“I wanted to help people solve their problems and make a positive difference in someone’s life and the attraction of having a job where you never knew what you were going to be doing next was preferable over a nine-to-five job.”
The detective said they wanted to join Special Branch but had to become a detective to do that. They reluctantly applied after being encouraged to do so by DI John Smedley and, after being accepted, started at Derby North CID at St Mary’s Wharf where they were tutored by Nick Clayton.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time there and dealt with some brilliant jobs so was really glad I’d applied. When I started in CID in 2002 we were on ‘unofficial on call’ late shifts which meant you couldn’t have a drink and had to sleep with your phone under your pillow! Detectives were always called out to rapes and serious crimes and your eight-hour shift would then start from when you were called out which was usually in the early hours.
“There was also an unspoken expectation that you would always remain on duty to finish your job off. There was no handing over to the next shift – so there was a lot of over-time done. Also, when I first started in CID there was no social media. Oh, the good times without that!”
When the detective left Special Branch, they found many changes, including the role of social media on investigations.
They explained: “Things had changed significantly. There was no ‘unofficial on call’, detectives weren’t called out in the night to attend rapes, there was work-life balance and people predominantly went home on time. Also, social media played a huge part in investigations and all files were computerised.
“I used to regularly work beyond my shift when we were on eight-hour days. Finishing at 4pm meant I could easily stay until 6pm to catch up with files or anything if I needed to, and get ahead, but since we have moved to 10-hour shifts the prospect of staying at work for an extra couple of hours doesn’t appeal.
“Some live jobs do require us to work late, including prisoners at other stations and foreign forces when they have to travel back to their home station at the other end of Derbyshire.. I also occasionally tend to do some work at home on my rest days if I have a lot on and need to catch up.”
The most rewarding part of the job?
“Getting a good result at court for a job that you have put a lot into,” they explained, “I’ve been involved in a lot of cases but there are three that stand out to me – all rape offences - which involved a great deal of work over long periods – but to be able to say I helped that victim get the justice they deserved is absolutely priceless and means the world to me. It’s a feeling that can’t be understood unless you have been through it; it yields an immense feeling of satisfaction.
“The pandemic has, of course, altered the way I work. It has made everyone more aware of everything and given us all OCD in cleaning – which isn’t a bad thing in a police station! However, I count myself very lucky to have a job and to be able to still carry on working in this pandemic when so many people haven’t and can’t.”
The detective added that they don’t currently feel under pressure but have in the past: “Some jobs we have involve all hands to the pump but when the initial excitement has passed, it is allocated and as an OIC you are left to finish it off. Some of these jobs require an extraordinary amount of work and when jobs are coming in left, right and centre, you feel unable to provide the attention because of the relentless requirement for that attention – hence why I sometimes feel the need to work at home in order to catch up.
“But I choose to do that and I do know that if I went to my sergeant for assistance, it would be provided, although most officers are in the same boat. I don’t often feel under pressure at work but I do know that I can talk to people about it if I need to.”
There is no plan for the detective to return to uniform but they said they would, and could, if required to do so: “We have all been issued with uniforms should the situation become such that we are required to do so. This doesn’t frighten me. I enjoyed my time in uniform and, while I haven’t been on section for many years, I’m sure I would quickly adapt.”