Senior investigator tells hopefuls what they need to become a detective as part of Suffolk Police recruitment drive

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Parkes welcomed interested candidates to a recruitment evening

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Parkes welcomed interested candidates to a recruitment evening at Suffolk police headquarters. Picture: TOM POTTER - Credit: Tom Potter

Scores of aspiring sleuths descended on Suffolk Police headquarters to investigate what it takes to become a detective.

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Parkes (left) and Detective Superintendent Andy Smith welcomed

Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Parkes (left) and Detective Superintendent Andy Smith welcomed interested candidates to a recruitment evening at Suffolk police headquarters. Picture: TOM POTTER - Credit: Tom Potter

The constabulary hosted an open evening as part of a recruitment drive, aimed at filling 40 vacant posts in Suffolk and addressing a wider national shortage of detectives and investigators.

There are currently 177 detectives in a workforce of 2,311 in Suffolk, where Simon Parkes heads safeguarding and investigations.

The Detective Chief Superintendent told hopefuls of the skills required to deal with the demand of serious crime taking place each day – describing the job as physically and emotionally challenging at times, and promising no two days would be the same for successful applicants.

Det Ch Supt Parkes, whose own career went from tracking down a shoplifter who stole bread and milk from a 7-Eleven in Westcliff, to helping solve a double murder in Surrey, stressed that detective work was a world apart from on-screen depictions.

Detective Superintendent Andy Smith (left) and Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Parkes welcomed

Detective Superintendent Andy Smith (left) and Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Parkes welcomed interested candidates to a recruitment evening at Suffolk police headquarters. Picture: TOM POTTER - Credit: Tom Potter


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'This isn't Midsomer Murders or Luther,' he said. 'There's a huge difference between TV drama and reality. You'll have no more rights or entitlement than a police constable, but you will be a specialist in a role requiring different responsibilities and skills.'

Candidates will be scored on their initial application, before a national police assessment centre decides whether or not they have the core skills to be an officer. A detective entry assessment day is then followed by interviews, a medical and fitness test, vetting and reference checks.

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'It's laborious – and we make no apologies for that,' said Det Ch Supt Parkes, who has worked in hostage negotiation and counter-terrorism.

'We need people with skills and abilities that we can enhance. We're still using the traditional route, but this recruitment process allows us to accelerate people through that programme.

'The best investigation teams are those with a breadth of skills and experience. We require a high degree of ethical standards from people with really strong communication skills, an enquiring mind, and the ability to talk with victims of crime and interview suspects – sometimes, under a high level of pressure.'

More than 1,000 made initial applications in the week after police launched the scheme. The closing date to apply is August 4.

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