Essex Police since August 2014. Before that … Hertfordshire Police April 2007 – Oct 2013.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m an Investigation Officer on the Domestic Abuse Investigation Team (DAIT), Harlow. I work with the officers in the department, gathering evidence for their cases on High Risk Domestics.
My day-to-day activities mainly involve interacting with victims and witnesses of these crimes and getting their accounts in statement form. This can take a long time especially if there is Stalking or Coercive and Controlling behaviour.
I also identify and follow-up leads, do House to House enquiries, check BWV footage, and anything else the officers need to support the case.
Some of my biggest achievements in work - liaising with unsupportive victims who were previously too scared to support police action. By continuing to offer support I have helped reassure victims, so they feel safe enough to contact us to take the case forward for justice.
I have a thirst for knowledge and enjoy learning anything that helps me with my role. This includes on-line training offered at work, tv documentaries, books on the subject – anything that helps me better understand.
Outside of work … I have a cat that keeps me entertained, and we watch tv together. I also co-run a Meetup social group. We have a team of hosts and together we put on a variety of events such as meals out, theatre trips, walks, days out, weekends away, and other things that members fancy.
Obviously in 2020 most of that has stopped, and our hosts have reverted to listing on-line events.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Helping survivors tell their account, then putting it into a clear, sequential MG11 suitable for court. They are often frightened, exhausted, emotional, confused and/or brainwashed so it can take a bit of time and patience before they relax enough to tell their story. Then, when they start talking it can be all over the place – jumping back and forth between events as one incident brings another to mind.
I am a good listener which is helped by my background in Counselling and Training, and I know what CPS will be looking for due to my experience in this and my previous role. I have an astute ear which helps me identify gaps or inconsistencies in their accounts. Sometimes they lie to protect someone who was present but not involved, sometimes to downplay their own role. I explain how important it is to give me the whole truth – good and bad – because then we are forewarned, and why it is so important not to have unpleasant surprises at court that could undermine their case.
There are so many common themes in these cases, yet each has their own incidents and experiences. I take on each one as a new challenge and it’s like a puzzle to be explored and explained.
Why is diversity and inclusion so important in and outside of the workplace?
I was born in South Africa with English parentage and only came to the UK in 2003, so I have felt some of the differences and difficulties of fitting in. The words, phrases, systems and ways that are taken for granted by people who have always lived here, were at times confusing, weird or frustrating. How much more difficult for others whose first language is not English.
I am so happy and grateful to be living and thriving here with so many opportunities and experiences, and I am particularly happy in Essex Police with the inclusiveness and support I receive. A few months after I joined Essex Police I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer – not only was this a shock, it was also embarrassing due to my new arrival. My DS and DI were incredibly supportive throughout my 4 operations, radiotherapy, and other treatments, and helped me with a staged return to work. I even received good wishes from more senior officers.
In 2017 I had a tyre blow-out late at night as I returned from a holiday. This had a huge impact on me as I suffered whiplash, minor injuries, and depression which was very difficult to shift. To look at me now I don’t think you would know any of the above, yet I still sometimes get relapses of tiredness and depression. This doesn’t hold me back and I find that being gentle with myself works a treat – time to notice when I’m “sliding”, and time to rest.
All the above reminds me of the importance of diversity and inclusion, and how important it is to help and support each other, building on the commonalities and learning from the differences.
Were there any barriers to joining Essex Police?
None in this context, only with HR not understanding my issues with getting onto the application site on my home computer way back at the beginning.
Why do you think it’s so important that our force values difference?
Because we are all different and can learn from each other. The more we value each other, the stronger we are collectively. Looking out for each other, supporting each other, helping new members of the department get on their feet.
How has Essex Police as an organisation supported you in your career?
I am lucky to have had the same detective sergeant throughout my time in Essex Police. He was there supporting me through my Breast Cancer experience, and there for advice and guidance on career choices. He understands my desire to keep improving in my current role and often gives me cases to start working on when he doesn’t have a DC to hand it to. This is interesting for me and helpful for the DC who later takes on the case.
Tell us something interesting about your role?
I sometimes feel like a biographer as I make notes, then type their statements, especially when they are long ones for stalking or coercive and controlling where you need to evidence a pattern of behaviour over a period of time that has had a significant impact on the victim.
As an older civilian female, I have some advantages on my side.
1) If the perpetrator is male, the victim may feel anxious in the presence of other males.
2) The victim can feel comforted by my age and experience, and therefore better able to tell me things they may not want to tell someone younger.
3) I have time on my side and within reason can let them take their time, unlike the uniformed officers who may have other jobs to attend, and distractions on the radio.
4) I wear my own clothes – some victims could feel intimidated by a police uniform, especially if the perpetrator has repeatedly threatened them about speaking to police.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about joining Essex Police?
I would encourage anyone to join Essex Police. There is a role for everyone. I love watching the progress of officers from probationer, to PC, DC, Sgt, and beyond. As civilian staff I thoroughly enjoy my role working with “my” officers or helping LPT with Domestic Abuse statements.