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What does it take to be a Detective Constable?

Course: Detective Degree Holder Entry Programme
Category: Student blogs

22 November 2023

Picture of two workers reviewing work on a clipboard.

With the launch of our new Detective Degree Holder Entry Programme, in partnership with Bedfordshire Police, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Hertfordshire Constabulary, we asked that very question. ARU police partners, Cambridgeshire Constabulary and Bedfordshire Police, gave us an insight of what it’s like, and what it takes, to be a Detective Constable.

What is a Detective Constable?

Detectives deal with serious and complex investigations which could include domestic violence, child protection, homicide, cybercrime, counter-terrorism, drugs and county lines.

10 things you need to know about being a Detective

  1. Be prepared for the variety - working to support and protect diverse communities means there is always scope for new experiences across the force.
  2. No two cases are the same - as a detective, even in a specialised role, you’ll work on a variety of investigations enabling you to always enhance your knowledge and understanding.
  3. A rewarding career - being a detective is not just about working in CID (Criminal Investigation Department), there are so many opportunities that can give you the most rewarding career: specialist crime, child abuse, adult abuse, the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH), rape investigation, paedophile online investigation team (POLIT), cyber, fraud, protective vulnerable people (PVP), intelligence.
  4. Believe the unbelievable - the key to being a good detective is to keep an open mind when investigating and avoid tunnel vision.
  5. Inquisitive mindset and professional curiosity - never lose it, always be curious and eager to acquire new knowledge, ask questions and maintain an open mind. Don’t accept things at face value, enquire more deeply and challenge your own assumptions.
  6. Don’t worry about getting things wrong - it’s ok not to know everything. In fact, the best way to learn is by making a mistake – just know where to go to get help when you need it.
  7. Get used to recording everything and being diligent when doing so - there’s a saying in policing, “If it’s not written down, it didn’t happen”, and this couldn’t be truer for a detective, especially standing in the witness box three years down the line.
  8. Keep the victim at the heart of your investigation - a little goes a long way and while it might not seem a big deal to you, it probably is to them – don’t lose sight of this.
  9. Remember that it’s ok to take a break – you will be more productive in the long run.
  10. Keep being you - we are all unique and bring something different to the role – don’t lose that because it makes the force you choose to join a great place to work.

Day-to-day, what’s it like to work as a Detective Constable?

Sabrina D’Amelio, a detective with the Bedfordshire Police, tells us what it’s like, in her own words.

“I work in the Rape and Serious Sexual Offence team (RASSO), as with any detective team, every day is so different.

The initial response team preserve the scene and the golden hour investigation. We then come in to see what has been done and what we need to do. It could mean house-to-house visits to gather intelligence, request and look through CCTV, anything that identifies a victim, witness, or suspect.

It’s important to be professionally inquisitive. We need to find out what we don’t know and piece things together. It’s like working on a big, intricate puzzle.

Safeguarding is another part of our daily routine. It’s essential. The victim is at the heart of all our investigations, and we work with them throughout and follow their wishes. Whether it’s a prosecution or getting them out of the situation or something else.

I can honestly say that RASSO is an amazing team of detectives. The victim care is incredible and I’m so pleased that I get to work in this team. They are so knowledgeable, willing to help and really put the victim first. I am truly helping people.

Bedfordshire Police has a great environment to work in. Each member is willing to help, share their knowledge and advice. There is no competition here, we all are working to the same goal and that’s protecting people and fighting crime.

There is a constant work satisfaction in policing. There is always something to learn, something new to experience and you see the result at the end, whether it’s helping a victim or getting a good result at court.

The hours can be tough, being in the police you must be prepared to work the hours. But there is an incredible team to support you and we all chip in to make sure the job is done right, and the victim gets the outcome they need.

You’ve got to get out of your comfort zone in the police and for me that is the best part of the role. I get to challenge myself and get the high of proving to myself I can do it.

If you are thinking about it, join. If you’re willing to put effort in and hold integrity, have a passion for helping victims, fighting crime, join us. Be prepared to give it your all.”

Find out more about ARU’s new Detective Degree Holder Entry Programme here.


The views expressed here are those of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of Anglia Ruskin University. If you've got any concerns please contact us.