The detective role

Are you suited to life as a detective?

Working as a detective is a demanding but rewarding job. Understanding what it takes to be successful is important before deciding if you’re up for the challenge.

Working hours – This won’t be a typical nine to five job. Detectives work a varied shift pattern, covering weekends, Bank Holidays, evenings and nights. These working hours can have an impact on your social and personal life but at the same time they can offer flexibility to do the things you want to do.

At times there’s the need to work overtime, perhaps to cover a colleague’s shift or to see an open case through to a key milestone. You’ll be given as much advance notice as possible, but there will be times that you need to be flexible and adaptable. All hours that you do over and above your core hours will be remunerated.

Flexibility – On occasions you’ll be required to move to a different team or shift pattern due to operational requirements, giving you valuable exposure to working with new people in new environments.

Resilience – There will be times when you are exposed to distressing situations, which could affect you emotionally. These include dealing with vulnerable individuals, mental health issues, child abuse and deaths. You will be faced with difficult members of public and occasionally find yourself being subjected to verbal intimidation or physical assault. You will experience setbacks while working to resolve long-term societal problems so high levels of emotional resilience are needed.

Impartiality – Working as a detective you’ll deal with people of different ages and from a range of ethnicities, backgrounds and cultures. You’ll meet individuals whose attitudes and behaviours will challenge your own values. You must always remain impartial and treat everyone with dignity and respect.

Public scrutiny – The actions of detectives are subject to constant public scrutiny so you must behave both professionally and personally in a way that doesn’t comprise you, your force or the wider police service.

Transparency – To apply to become a detective you need to divulge all convictions, cautions, out of court settlements, disposals, arrests and reprimands regardless of severity. Failure to do so will lead to the invalidation of your application.

Independence – Detectives need to take and own their decisions – people rely on you to provide guidance. As you’ll be the one looking through the data, analysing information from a variety of sources and taking a methodical approach, you need to show your credibility and leadership skills.

Positivity – Being able to overcome obstacles requires determination and positivity, so that you never lose focus and are always striving to produce positive results. At times, you’ll have to push hard to achieve the desired outcome, to leave things better than you left them – maintaining a positive attitude will help satisfy the demands of being a detective.

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Devon & Cornwall Police

Police Now | Devon & Cornwall Constabulary

Shaun Sawyer

Chief Constable

National Graduate Leadership Programme

Cohorts: 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
No. of police officers enrolled: 8

National Detective Programme

Cohorts: —— —— —— —— 2019 2020
No. of police officers enrolled:

Case studies: