I’m a transferee DC in Avon and Somerset Constabulary. It’s always tempting to compare a previous Constabulary with the one you’ve moved to - what was good, what was bad – and say which came up trumps. In practice, I’d quickly sound like Uncle Albert, out of Only Fools and Horses (remember that?) - 'During the War we did this, I done that'. Don't get me wrong, I don’t belittle my previous Detective experience, indeed it’s shaped the Detective I am today. That’s important to me, I value it.
But a new chapter has started. I want to approach my transferee experience from a different stance – tell you what I’ve seen, experienced and, ultimately, feel about my 18 months so far as a DC in Investigations.
Last year, I experienced my first Continuing Professional Development (CPD) day at Police HQ. My preconception of a last minute, once a year, cobbled together, 'you need to know this', overloaded presentation was quickly torpedoed.
I was presented with an enthusiastic Superintendent who asked us what realistic changes could be made to make a positive difference to how we can work better – bearing in mind the economic and staffing constraints. A heated debate followed, and some sensible recommendations were made. Several months later, at another CPD day, some of the recommendations made by DCs were already actioned with others in development. The Superintendent asked me, by name, for my thoughts on the changes made. I gave a balanced response, while trying to figure out how he remembered my name from the first CPD day. Staff welfare was at the heart of the seminar. We got a guarantee that’s also been tested, that if an Investigation team can’t cope with a workload then it’s escalated up the ranks to find a possible solution.
I’ve seen senior management recognise that those who do the most challenging, demanding work are the PCs, DCs and support staff.
We’re encouraged to give our views about how we can work better – I and others have made several recommendations about tackling burglary offences that have been acted on, or are in the pipeline. As a result, burglary is once again at the forefront – and officers have been thanked.
I’ve seen Local Policing Area (LPA) officers take on the challenge of not just responding to a call out but being Initial Investigative Officers. And so it’s come as no surprise to me that PCs in my team have had an easier transition into Investigations, fulfilling their DC role with gusto because the investigative mind set has moved away from just responding to a call out. The quality of most of the case handovers I have received have improved. This has saved me time and effort to crack on with a case.
I’ve asked to be developed and received several useful courses to help with cases and assist colleagues. These range from Advanced ABE Course, Child Death Course, Trafficking and Human Exploitation, Advanced Multi Agency course, Mentoring... I’ll stop there. My point is, I can see that Avon and Somerset Constabulary know the main bulk of the hard work is done by PCs, DCs and support staff. They deal with the public 24/7. And it doesn’t go unrecognised.
It’s like the PCs, DCs and support staff rowing a ship, but without Sergeants and above having a veritable feast in the Captain’s quarters; feet up, pondering if they should have one more wafer thin mint. Instead they’re protecting the rowers with Sparta formation against the uncertain journey we all face ahead, together, in Policing.
This transcends into Investigations. I’ve seen when the duty phone rings a Sergeant will respond serene and calm, just like a swan. But underneath it’s like swan's feet, going like billy-o. To make sure that everything can be done before a DC takes over a job, to give them a fighting chance to conduct a thorough investigation. I’ve experienced this at A/DS level. I have seen this forcewide, in the Local Policing Area (LPA) and Detainee Investigation Team (DIT).
I’ve seen case load allocations to DCs in Investigations become smarter. A lot of thought goes into who’s getting the next job. The savvy Sergeants will review the Qlik Sense database as an extra tool to make the allocation decision. Invariably this means they can see at a glance the live caseloads of individual team members and the complexities that those cases involve can be taken into account. This database also serves as a good investigative tool, hopefully to be rolled out across the board.
So, how do I feel about being a transferee DC in Avon and Somerset Investigations? Overall, I can say A&S Constabulary does recognise, develop and support – that there is a ME in TEAM.
To that end, as Paul Young sang, "wherever I lay my hat that's my home." My hat is currently at North East Investigations, Team 2.