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Wiltshire: joining a 'one team ethos'

Wiltshire Police is looking for 20 experienced detectives who want to try something new by moving to a force that offers autonomy, responsibility and flexible working.

Detective Chief Inspector Helen Jacobs. Credit Dave Cox at Swindon Advertiser

Detective Chief Inspector Helen Jacobs. Credit Dave Cox at Swindon Advertiser

Date - 13th November 2020
By - Chloe Livadeas
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Wiltshire is seeking Detective Constables to transfer from other forces to their investigation teams in the spring 2021. Successful applicants will have completed the full IPLDP, be PIP2 qualified or hold a valid NIE pass and working towards PIP2.

Detective Superintendent Chris Hanson is head of CID and a transferee himself. He went from a “macro to a micro force overnight” when he joined as a detective from West Midlands Police.

“The thing that hits you when you first arrive here is that you are not just a number,” said D/Supt. Hanson.

Wiltshire, the third smallest force behind City of London and Warwickshire, has around 1,000 officers, 1,067 staff and a “one team ethos”, according to D/Supt. Hanson.

“We're not a force that has lots of different teams and proactive units for different types of crime. We’re very much omni-competent, and we deal with lots of different types of crimes. So there’s that variation and diversity for officers to deal with.”

Detective Chief Inspector Helen Jacobs, DCI for CID and Public Protection, has been with Wiltshire for 15 years and was a Metropolitan Police officer for six years before that.

She said: “Wiltshire is a fantastic place to live and work. But I think specifically as a detective it gives a great variety of work with particular autonomy and responsibility that you may not get in a much larger or different force.

“People might think small means boring, nothing much going on, no particular career challenges. But actually it’s the opposite and certainly for our detectives it means you are very much a big fish in a small pond.”

A smaller pond right enough but Wiltshire is home to the same criminality familiar to officers from larger, more metropolitan forces including county lines and the exploitation of vulnerable people.

“We have a complete array of serious crimes that come in. Because we have smaller teams and smaller pools of resources the kind of work that will be allocated to any particular detective is very varied, really diverse and very challenging,” said DCI Jacobs.

She said the contrast of urban and rural brought its different challenges - with policing Swindon very different from policing rural Mere and places such as Salisbury.  

In March 2018 Salisbury was the scene of an unprecedented international crime – the Novichok poisoning that left former Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey in intensive care. “Everyone pulled together so magnificently to deal with that,” said D/Supt. Hanson. “And that's left a legacy of teamwork and fellowship, especially as we had a police officer that was really poorly.”

Detective Superintendent Chris Hanson

Wiltshire’s CID management stress their teams have the support of the community and are supportive of each other.

“The responsibility sits on the shoulders of quite a small group of people so that that sense of team support, team working is very keenly felt,” said DCI Jacobs.

The force want to recruit from under-represented groups in policing, and women and ethnics minorities in particular are encouraged to apply.

“I think it's important that we have diversity of officers because sometimes the best way to speak to a victim or witness is to have somebody that they're more likely to relate to,” said DCI Jacobs.

D/Supt. Hanson says he is passionate about increasing the diversity of the detective cohort through the recruitment drive.

“I would love to bring in fresh perspectives and experience, and create some great role models within CID and PPD that truly represent the communities we serve.”

D/Supt. Hanson is a churchwarden and said flexibility around working conditions to meet officers’ lives outside the job is a feature of Wiltshire’s approach.  

“We do try and make those patterns work so that people can fit their work around their other commitments,” DCI Jacobs said. “And that does mean that we can retain officers, particularly female officers but we do have a number of male officers on flexible working patterns as well.”

The capacity for remote working is genuine, with officers’ smartphones and the laptops having access to all police systems. “They're really forward thinking and very agile in their approach,” said D/Supt. Hanson.

D/Supt. Hanson described the process of transferring to Wiltshire as “smooth and quick”.

He’s been an officer for 27 years. “I felt like I joined the police again,” he said. “I felt reinvigorated and re-energised. I felt really proud to have that Wiltshire warrant card in my pocket.”

Detective Constables interested in applying can do so here.

Anyone wishing to speak to about the role can do so by calling D/Supt. Hanson on 07747 777859 or DCI Jacobs on 07971 921149.

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