Detective Academy: New investigators united in passion for cracking crime

West Midlands Police’s new breed of detectives range from seasoned cops with almost 20 years’ police experience to new recruits with burning ambitions to crack crime.

Almost 70 officers graduated from the force’s Detective Academy last month after passing their National Investigators exams and have now been assigned to CID teams or Public Protection Units.

DC Gavin Green

Among them are PCs Gavin Green and Clare Thorley.

Gavin started his police career in 2001 and has spent the last seven years as a motorway cop, most recently as an investigator with the Collision Investigation Unit dealing with serious and fatal road crashes.

By contrast Clare joined the force less than three years ago and, after impressing as a student officer, was posted to an Investigation Team tackling acquisitive crime like burglaries and robberies before transferring to Coventry Police’s child abuse team.

They arrived at the Academy − the only one of its kind in UK policing − via very different routes but both are proving to have the tenacity, determination and inquisitive nature needed to make it as a top detective.

PCs Clare Thorley and Gavin Green
PCs Clare Thorley and Gavin Green

Gavin − who was an illustrator before joining the police and helped create Disney, Warner Bros and Simpsons characters − said: “I’ve worked on many complex collision investigations − looking at crash reconstruction and gathering evidence to determine if collisions are accidental or if someone was to blame.

“There is a lot of similarities between collision investigations and traditional crime cases. I’ve also worked on cross-border and national investigations so feel I’ve got a good foundation as a crime investigator.

“To be a good detective I think you need a good “copper’s nose" − you need to be able to read people well and have sound intuition. So classic policing skills twinned with high-tech investigative methods to help catch offenders and get justice for victims.

“I currently work with a domestic abuse team and have worked on cases including assaults, harassments, stalking, kidnaps and rapes. But the work isn’t purely investigatory: a lot of time is dedicated to protecting vulnerable victims, securing restraining orders and working with partners like women’s hostels."

Clare was a financial services head-hunter before joining West Midlands Police as a Student Officer in 2014 − and says she made the move into policing with the ambition of becoming a Detective Constable.

She said: “It’s satisfying seeing a case through from the initial crime report, investigating, gathering evidence, interviewing and ultimately seeing offenders convicted.

“Investigations can be drawn-out so I find being determined and patient are important attributes. And you have to be well-organised because often you have several cases progressing at once and a large workload to manage.

“Being a good communicator is also important − in child abuse enquires we work alongside several agencies so it’s important that communication is clear and consistent and we are working together in the best interests of victims. Being able to develop and maintain good relationships with victims so they feel supported throughout the process is also important.

“I’ve been with the Child Abuse Team for three months and am investigating serious neglect, sexual assaults on children and assisting with cases of sudden infant deaths where we’re looking to determine if there are any suspicious circumstances.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity the Academy has provided me."

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