Alumni Spotlight: tackling burglaries and building public confidence
Friday 29th September 2023
Detective Sergeant Oliver Hodgkinson joined Humberside Police in 2018 via Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme, after completing a master’s degree in neuroscience and neuroimaging.
As a neighbourhood police officer in Hull, he worked to improve the team’s response to burglaries in the area and build public trust and confidence in policing. After graduating from Police Now’s two-year programme, he undertook his detective training and worked in the Criminal Investigations Department and Prisoner Processing Team, leading investigations that resulted in successful convictions and custodial sentences.
Oliver also enrolled on Police Now’s Frontline Leadership Programme and is now a detective sergeant, who will soon be going through the inspector promotion process.
Read more about his policing journey and community impact in this month’s Alumni Spotlight.
Detective Sergeant Oliver Hodgkinson
“Before I joined the police service, I gained a master’s degree in neuroscience and neuroimaging at the University of York, having completed undergraduate study in their Psychology department. Whilst there, I began looking into doing a PhD and considering my future options. Although academic research contributes to changes in society, I felt that I wanted to do something more visible, where I could directly see the positive impact I was making on society. I had considered policing in the past and came back to it as an idea, and that’s when I came across Police Now. I am the first person in my family to join the police and the first to go to university. It was a big change to make, but I know I made the right career choice.
“I joined Humberside Police in 2018 via Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme, starting with the intense training academy and a period on a uniform response team before landing in Hull East Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT). As a neighbourhood police officer, I worked to address and solve the problems most affecting the local community.
“We saw a high number of burglaries in the area so addressing this was a priority. My focus was on the service we delivered and reducing the chance of someone becoming a repeat victim. Being the victim of burglary and having someone invade your home is a very intrusive crime, so making sure victims felt supported was important to me. Now, it is standard practice for officers in the force to personally visit every victim of dwelling burglary, and it is certainly a big priority for policing nationally, but at this time the policy had not yet been officially implemented. Nonetheless, I looked into all the burglaries reported in the area, including the closed cases, and personally visited each victim to check on their welfare and assess their properties for potential vulnerabilities. I offered advice on keeping their homes secure and provided updates on active investigations. It also allowed me to discuss our wider work in the area and reassure the public.
“Before conducting the visits, I circulated a survey to the local community asking them to rate or comment on their confidence in the police. After completing the visits, I sent a follow-up survey and was pleased to see that their confidence in the service had improved. Ratings out of 5, with 5 being an excellent service, had increased from 4.33 to 4.89.
“When I finished Police Now’s two-year programme, I moved into the Prisoner Processing Team. I had previously completed a brief internal attachment there and really enjoyed the role. I worked in an investigative capacity to deal with detained prisoners, particularly to tackle high-volume and priority crime and ensure swift justice for victims. The role had a wide scope and involved furthering intelligence and evidence gathering, for example conducting witness and suspect interviews, examining seized materials and digital devices as well as audio-visual content.
“Whilst in the Prisoner Processing Team I sat the National Investigators’ Exam, and then moved into the force’s Criminal Investigations Department (CID) where I dealt with serious and complex crime in the East Riding of Yorkshire area and continued my detective training. I dealt with a range of cases from domestic abuse, robberies and drug supply, to assisting in murder investigations.
“I investigated burglaries within this role, too. For example, I supported an elderly couple who returned home only to be confronted by a burglar in their house. A number of items were stolen, including an air pistol and ornamental knife. I used CCTV to track the suspect’s movements and determine any identifying features and we also recovered the suspect’s DNA from the scene. We received a call from a member of the public that same day, who reported seeing a man with a suspected firearm in the street. We were able to make an arrest and connect him directly with the burglary, thanks to the evidence we had collated and the support from the victims and public. The offender was sentenced to three years in prison and the victim’s property was returned to them.
“It is so important to build public confidence in policing so that victims and the public are willing to report suspicious activity and support our investigations. The work that officers do in NPTs to build this confidence and support at a local level contributes to strengthening all areas of policing and investigations in this way.
“After completing my detective training within the CID and becoming a detective constable, I enrolled on Police Now’s Frontline Leadership Programme (FLP) in 2021, seeking promotion.
“The FLP is a one-year programme which supports officers to progress from constable to sergeant rank. As it happened, I sat the Sergeants’ Exam very early on in the programme and was promoted to detective sergeant. My dedicated Police Now Progression and Development Officer put in tailored sessions with me to help me practice and prepare, as he knew I was going to sit the promotion board early. Despite being promoted early in the programme I continued taking the course; it gave me the skills and network to feel confident in the role and helped me develop as a leader regardless of my rank. Sometimes I approach things differently to my colleagues but there’s no right or wrong answer, it’s about working as a team and leading in a way that utilises those diverse voices and skills.
“I think it’s easy for people to think that only having a few years of service under your belt will hold you back. The reality is it doesn’t, so long as you put in the work and are passionate about developing as an officer and as a person. Police Now’s programmes helped me do this. I intend to keep pushing to be a strong leader in the service and will soon be going through the inspector promotion process.”