Detective Academy: Mary Mahon, Northumbria Police
National Detective Programme 2022
The programme begins with a 14-week training academy before participants are deployed into their respective police forces to continue the two-year programme.
Mary, who will join Northumbria Police via the programme, is sharing her experiences of the academy as she develops the knowledge and skills required to support her community as a detective constable.
Police Now’s National Detective Programme is designed to equip participants with the core policing and leadership skills required in modern investigative work. Once deployed into their forces, participants play an integral part in solving crimes while developing their leadership, communication and problem-solving skills.
Mary Mahon, Trainee Detective Constable on Police Now's National Detective Programme
“I studied English Language and Linguistics at the University of York, graduating in 2020. I started working as a support worker for people with neurological diseases and paralysis, trying to contribute to the health services during the pandemic.
“In all my previous roles – as a support worker, as a volunteer primary school assistant, and as a black-belt kickboxing instructor – I enjoyed working directly with people. I wanted to keep this going in my next role and have a career which would allow me to work directly with members of the public and make a real difference to people’s lives.
“I hadn’t considered a career as a detective before I saw the advert for Police Now’s National Detective Programme, but the more I looked into it, the more it made sense for me. Police Now’s strong sense of purpose, with its focus on making an impact in communities and its drive to recruit a diverse police workforce, really appealed to me. I am looking forward to learning how to investigate cases and safeguard members of the community who need my help alongside my force and Police Now colleagues.
“I was nervous about telling my friends and family that I was joining the police service. Even though I keep fit, I thought they would doubt my ability to excel in the police as quite a small woman. They were shocked at first – I remember seeing the looks of surprise on their faces – but luckily, they have been nothing but supportive.
“I am glad I didn’t let those worries hold me back from applying and, although I am expecting it to be tough, I am really looking forward to becoming a detective constable over the course of the two-year programme.”
“We have just completed our sixth week of the Academy and we have already covered a lot of ground. It has been a steep learning curve, with a lot of information to take in, but I feel I am keeping on track. I am working hard to reach my full potential and am trying to consolidate all of my learning at the end of each day so I don’t fall behind.
“I feel very proud to be part of Northumbria Police, which seems to me to have very high standards of professionalism whilst also being very friendly. I think the conduct inside and outside the classroom with my colleagues and peers has been very professional and we have developed a great relationship with our training leads at academy.
“We have been over a range of topics, in a mix of practical role-play and classroom-based study. This includes learning skills and processes specific to our force, and sessions like stop and search, court room procedures, domestic abuse and missing persons, anti-racism training, and use of police radios. We also completed our officer safety training and first aid training and learnt how to arrest and present a suspect to custody, take witness statements and interview victims of crime. We are about to start a few days of field training on our force Response teams, where we will experience for the first time what it will be like to respond to 999 calls alongside our experienced colleagues.
“I very much enjoy the role-play exercises we do at academy. The practical, hands-on experience has been a key part of my understanding and learning and I feel confident standing up in front of my peers and going through role-play scenarios, such as an arrest and present to custody situation. I also enjoyed first aid and officer safety training, which has made me feel more confident for my upcoming field training.
“Interviewing victims and taking witness statements required more practice, though I enjoyed it a lot. I need to remember to take my time and not to rush, as all questions are important and even very small details which may seem trivial at first could prove to be key later on. I soon found it easy to get into the flow and the required line of questioning came naturally. Learning to use the police radios was also more challenging than I thought, as I have had to get used to all the lingo and the rate of speech, but I am working on my fluency.
“Some of the content has been tough to listen to, especially topics that relate to experiences I myself have had, so it’s been important to look after my own wellbeing and resilience. I have had a lot of support from colleagues and it’s made me realise the importance of having a strong support network.
“I’m still in the process of learning to start anew in an entirely new career but I feel like I have the support of my squad. It has been great to call my family and friends and talk to them about how I’m feeling and what I have learnt each week. It’s a good way to unwind and has been a form of self-reflection, helping me adjust to my new life as a trainee detective constable.”
“We have just completed our first stint of ‘field training’ on our force Response teams, responding to 999 calls alongside experienced colleagues to gain experience of the frontline early on in our training.
“I was initially nervous about going into Response but I feel like this week has really boosted my confidence. Experiencing the realities of the policing frontline has made me realise how much I’ve learnt and how much I am enjoying the job. I’ve had to adjust to very early starts and physically exhausting days, but it’s been nice to break the mould and practice my new policing skills in the real world.
“Whilst I was on Response in Newcastle I observed and supported my tutor constable and learnt a great deal from my experienced colleagues. Together we responded to domestic abuse incidents, made an arrest for assault and drink driving, conducted missing persons enquiries and worked on a complex case that involved a mental health crisis and people with learning disabilities.
“I conducted my first vehicle search when my tutor and I received a Grade 1 emergency callout, due to two unconscious drink drivers found in a stationary car at the side of the road. I seized some important pieces of evidence during the search and had to keep my own personal safety in mind too, as there was a lot of broken glass at the scene. Another Police Now colleague was with us on the shift as well, it was great to share that experience and learn together.
“After our field training we had a ‘digital learning week’ at Academy, allowing us to have a few days at home with our families. We dialled into a number of lectures on contemporary challenges in policing, such as mental health and County Lines, before returning for more in-person training at the academy.
“It’s hard to believe that we are well over halfway through the academy now. It’s been very demanding, and the workload is only increasing as we prepare to take our National Investigators’ Exam, but I have really enjoyed the last few weeks. I feel that my experience has given me a great sense of achievement and I’m really proud of the work I’ve done so far.”
“The final few weeks of the National Detective Programme academy have gone very quickly, it’s included sitting our National Investigators’ Exam and completing our field training within the force’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
I really enjoyed my field training within CID, it was great to see some of the different departments within the force and I really felt part of a team. The field training helps put the whole programme into place and allowed me to observe the way my force colleagues act, dress, speak and interact with each other on a professional level. Whilst in CID, I was involved in a Section 47 domestic violence investigation and conducted door-to-door enquiries with my colleagues. I also helped plan for and sit in on a suspect interview, and I worked in the custody suite to check on detainees and observe searches.
At the academy, we have recently been focusing on building case files and have had interesting inputs from several guest speakers on a range of topics. Unfortunately I was unwell for a few days, but I was able to work from home and dial in to these sessions nonetheless. We also recently had the opportunity to network with some partner agencies across the policing sector at a ‘networking event’, which thankfully I was able to attend.
The final week of academy was great, we completed several crime scene management scenarios and focused more on serious and complex interviewing techniques. We had a closing ceremony today, the final day of academy, with an address from Assistant Chief Constable Sharn Basra from Bedfordshire Police.
The academy was challenging and intense, but it has really helped me build my confidence and skills and build strong bonds with my Police Now colleagues both inside and outside the classroom.
I can’t believe the academy has finished, but I also can’t wait to land permanently in Northumbria Police and embark on the next step of my career. I now have a week of rest before landing in force, where I will continue the two-year Police Now programme and support victims of crime in my community.”