TWO of Staffordshire Police’s most senior detectives have spoken to say how their teams are coping with the demands place upon them by carrying out investigations during the Coronavirus pandemic.
DCI Dan Ison from the force CID (Criminal Investigation Department) and DI Cheryl Hannan from the force MID (Major Investigation Department) continue to deal with some of Staffordshire Police’s major investigations amidst lockdown and have shared their experiences of the past ten months.
This is what they both had to say in relation to how their departments are coping.
DCI Ison: “Despite everything that we’ve gone through I think it’s of paramount importance that the public know that we’re still here for them and continue to be fully committed to protecting the communities we serve in these unprecedented times.
“Our investigation teams are coping with the demand and we’re still doing all we can to ensure our job is done to the best of our ability – albeit in a slightly different, Covid-compliant way so we in CID are urging people to still get in touch and continue to report crime.”
DI Hannan: “There’s still very much a can do attitude here and people realise they have a job to do. Our teams reflect society in that everyone has differing views but one consistency is that people are adamant they want to keep a high-level of service to the public and those who need our help.
“We still have that same level of service but things are a little different. We might take a statement over the phone rather than in person but we’re still doing all we can to ensure investigations are carried out.”
DCI Ison: “If you look at the year from a wider perspective, Covid has completely changed the demands of the police and in some ways lessened them.
“The pandemic has made it that little bit harder for us in CID to deal with crime because we can’t do as many face to face interviews and we can’t necessarily get access to the people or prisons like we once did.
“We’ve had to find more intelligent ways of having meetings, taking statements virtually etc – which is something historically we weren’t used to.
“As for many, we’ve also had to keep our staff’s safety at the top of the agenda when it came to making any decisions on sending detectives or officers out of the office to follow up leads or visit a scene. It’s been quite a challenge to achieve that balance but we’ve got there.”
DI Hannan: “I would agree with what Dan’s said as it’s been incredibly difficult to maintain that balance between providing our normal service and adhering to the necessary protocols.
“Because of the types of offences we deal with in MID, you really want to continue to give that same level of service to the families involved and not let them suffer because they’ve been unfortunate to lose a loved one during a pandemic.
“Keeping up our relationships with the victim’s families is something that’s vitally important. You normally would have them all together, give them that reassurance and create that rapport but our Family Liaison Officers now go to three or four separate meetings to ensure that things are done in a safe manner.
“It’s been difficult because these meetings aren’t something that should or could be done over the phone so we’ve wanted to keep up the level of service and communication with families whilst ensuring they and our staff are safe and socially distant.
“On the other foot, as with CID, we’ve had to take into account our own staff’s safety and ensure they’re not doing anything that puts them at risk or makes them uncomfortable.
“Those unable to come into the office, through shielding or for medical reasons, have been contributing massively to investigations by reviewing downloads, third party material, Body Worn Video and CCTV etc whilst their colleagues are tackling the office side. It’s all about being flexible.”
“We’ve also had to be clever with how we do things when it comes to trial. Having the flexibility to host family and friends at Police HQ so they can watch the trial in a socially distant way via video link has helped majorly in some of our more high-profile cases.”
DCI Ison: “I think looking forward, we’ll definitely be looking to continue the use of virtual meetings post-pandemic. I used to drive to and from Birmingham on a fortnightly basis for meetings and the use of technology saves me a couple of hours a time. It’s really helped the way we work and, although our hands have been forced into this position, it’s something we’ll carry forward. It can really help speed up certain processes.
“Using certain types of technology is something we’ll be looking to keep going forward. It allows us to use our time more efficiently and helps people on a personal level as well.”
DI Hannan: “Precisely, face to face isn’t always necessary and this pandemic has put us into a positon where we’ve been able to explore these different kinds of communication. It’s taken away those inefficiencies of unnecessary travel in some circumstances.”
DCI Ison: “I’d conclude by saying that things can be a little clunky at times with everyone getting used to constant change but the can do attitude is definitely still there and people are being professional.
“People across both our teams and the wider force are continuing to come to work, putting themselves in the firing line because they know they have a vocation and a job to protect the public. We totally value our staff and we’re all committed to ensuring crimes are dealt with efficiently and swiftly so please, keep reporting to us.”
You can also report information about crime by contacting the independent crime-fighting charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or through their Anonymous Online Form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org. No personal details are taken, information cannot be traced or recorded and you will not go to court.