Detective Sergeant Sarah Copeland
I am the third generation of my family to join the police. I joined Cambridgeshire Constabulary in 2004 after a few years working in banking following completion of my degree at the age of 24.
I spent two years as a probationer on shift, which was great fun. After completing my probation, I moved into investigations as a trainee detective constable. After qualifying as a detective, I was promoted and undertook roles as a custody, response and neighbourhood sergeant.
In 2010 I decided I wished to return to investigations so became a detective sergeant on a serious crime team at Thorpe Wood Police Station in Peterborough - a steep learning curve but I really enjoyed managing large investigations. My team managed investigations up to attempted murder and the exposure to forensic work and building cases ready to present at court was fascinating.
In 2012 I moved into the newly-formed Domestic Abuse Investigating Safeguarding Unit. It was a very stressful and fast-paced environment, but I had such an amazing team of officers who worked tirelessly to protect domestic abuse victims. The hours were long, but the reward from seeing long custodial sentences and knowing victims were safe made it all worthwhile.
In 2016 I joined the Investigation Standards Department and I am still in post today. I love my job – I am responsible for supporting officers through the detective career pathway, from application to being awarded detective constable status. The force has personally supported me in my role by financing an external training qualification.
I have had two children during my career, now aged six and nine years. I also have a husband who works unpredictable hours in the police and the force has been really supportive allowing me to have a good work-life balance by providing flexible working arrangements.
Sixteen years have flown by. As a detective you will have so many interesting and varied opportunities – your only problem will be trying to fit them all in before you have to retire!
Detective Inspector Amerjit Singh
When I left school I got many jobs within the insurance and legal sector but never felt fulfilled. I had come from a family background in business, which centred on customer service and helping others. It sounds like a cliché but I really wanted to make a positive difference to people’s lives. I come from a Sikh background and my faith teaches us to help each other and serve those less fortunate than ourselves.
My brother in laws at the time were serving officers with the Metropolitan Police. They inspired me to join the police and I have never looked back. I joined Cambridgeshire police in 2004 and unbeknownst to me, I was the first Sikh police officer to join the force. I had become an ambassador for my community and was building bridges between communities living here. Having a young family at the time, it was a challenge juggling shifts with family commitments. However, they were fully behind me and supportive of the difference I was making to those in need.
Sixteen years later I am a detective inspector in the Rape Investigation Team. I have undertaken a variety of roles, particularly in protecting vulnerable people. This is my passion and what compels me to do the very best for victims of crime. There are not many jobs which give you this level of satisfaction.
The proudest moment of my career was receiving the Queens Police Medal in 2018. This was for my services to policing and protecting the vulnerable. I will never forget the day I took my family to Buckingham Palace and received my honour from HRH Prince of Wales. My family are proud of my achievements and career. I strive to be a good role model for my children and others. This drives me to be a good police officer.
My advice for those aspiring to be detectives is to put the victim at the heart of any investigation. Imagine that it was your relative/friend/loved-one, who suffered as a result of a crime. Be inspired and use that motivation to seek justice for them. I absolutely love my job. I wake up every morning with a steely determination to help those who need it. Take a leap of faith…you won’t regret it!
Trainee Detective Constable Zoe Jackson – Police Now Detective
I have been a trainee detective constable with Cambridgeshire for a year now. I joined through the slightly unconventional route of Police Now’s direct entry detective programme. Before joining the force I worked in sales, account management and spent a brief period working for the NHS and law firms. I hadn’t always dreamed of joining the police, but I’m very glad I did.
The past 12 months have been a whirlwind. From solving the first crime, to securing the first conviction, and safeguarding the most vulnerable in society - every day is different. The varied and unpredictable nature of what we do is what I enjoy most about being a detective – you just never know what you’re walking into when you arrive at work.
As a detective, the little wins often mean more than the big ones. You simply can’t expect everything to go the way you would like, and you need to be prepared to see incidents through from start to finish. Your brain is constantly thinking of new and innovative ways to interpret and seek out information, which can be tiring and the days are often long, but I can safely say that ‘boring’ is no longer a word I use to describe my days at work.
My advice for those considering joining as a direct entry detective is don’t jump in head first. It’s a really interesting role and there are so many specialist avenues you can pursue later on too, but really look into what the job role entails and what you’re looking for. If you do decide to join, be ready to push yourself. You’ll be working alongside brilliant and very experienced colleagues, and you need to be prepared to bring yourself up to scratch – good luck!