A detective who investigated some of the most shocking crimes committed in Lincolnshire over recent years has cracked her final case.
Detective Inspector (DI) Helen Evans (49), leaves Lincolnshire Police today after a 30-year career which included spells in Spalding, the Deepings, Bourne, Stamford and Grantham.
Among her many cases were the deaths of Claire, Charlotte and Lance Hart in Spalding last July, the manslaughter conviction against prison inmate Krysztof Mroz, formerly of Holbeach, in May 2015 and the unsolved murder of Grantham mum-of-two Julie Pacey in September 1994.
DI Evans, who was born in Nottinghamshire before moving to Gainsborough as a child, said: “I’ve dealt with a lot of tragic and terrible cases but, hopefully, the way I’ve run the investigations have left the victims’ families with very positive feelings about myself and my team.
“I try to do this in every case as you’re dealing with families in the worst of circumstances and if we can make that experience as reassuring and honest as possible, hopefully, it makes things easier for them to deal with.”
DI Evans, who is married and lives in north Lincolnshire, started her career as a Police Constable in Stamford in February 1987, before spending 21 years primarily based at Grantham.
She said: “Both myself and a friend thought about the police service when we were at school in the 1980s, a time when you either went on to university or you didn’t.
“So I stayed on at school to do my A-levels and then, rather than think about becoming a Special Constable as I was told to do, I applied for selection to join the police service.
“When I was going through the selction process, I remember them saying to me ‘you’re a bit young’, but I became a regular WPC instead.
“There were a few young officers at the time, including one colleague I knew of who was a similar age to me.
I’ve dealt with a lot of tragic and terrible cases but, hopefully, the way I’ve run the investigations have left the victims’ families with very positive feelings about myself and my teamDetective Inspector Helen Evans, Lincolnshire Police and East Midlands Special Operations Unit
“But most new recruits had either done previous jobs, such as working in the NHS, or had careers in the Armed Forces before becoming police officers.,
“In my first couple of years, I saw some things that you wouldn’t necessarily want to see.
“It was a bit of a shock, at the age of 19, to be sent to Stamford where I was supposed to have spent the first two years of my career as a police officer doing my probationary period.
“You have to achieve certain competences, but Stamford wasn’t busy enough a patch to police so I moved to Grantham where I worked from 1988 until 2009.
After five years as a uniformed police woman, DI Evans worked in child and adult protection from 1992 to 1997 before she became a Detective Constable, Sergeant and finally Inspector.
She said: “You have to apply to go in for the detective’s recruitment process which involves an interview, as well as written and practical exams.
“I became a Detective Constable and had the opportunity to do some acting up work as a Detective Sergeant before taking the exams.
“Then I went before a promotion board for interview which you have to work hard for as it’s not given to you. “I was overjoyed when I became a Detective Inspector because to have worked hard for it, then to achieve it, was utterly satisfying.
“It gives you the opportunity to do a job that you were doing before, but just on a temporary basis.
“I became a Detective Sergeant on 2002, but went back into uniform for two years to work as a Response Sergeant in Grantham.
“Then I moved back to Stamford which was really strange, having started there as a Police Constable.
“But crime is very similar wherever it occurs, although the one thing I do remember about working in south Lincolnshire was that a lot of people tend to travel into the area to commit crime, rather than people who live there committing it.
“A lot of criminals who committed crimes in south Lincolnshire then went out again, making it harder to trace them because you have no links as to where they might be.
“Crimes in south Lincolnshire can be harder to solve but everybody is very helpful, contrary to the portrayal on TV that people don’t want to help the police.
“In the majority of cases, people want to help the police and in connection with the Julie Pacey murder, I went on Crimewatch in May 2015 to make a public appeal for information.
“We were overwhelmed with telephone calls, each of which was thoroughly investigated.”
DI Evans’s secondment from Lincolnshire Police to the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU), a collaboration of five police forces established in 2011, came after working alongside some of Lincolnshire Police’s most well-known staff.
Superintendents Paul Timmins and Chris Davison, Chief Inspector Jim Tyner, all three having been former Community Policing Inspectors for South Holland, Inspector Mike Burnett and even retiring Chief Constable Neil Rhodes have all crossed DI Evans’ path over her 30 years in the police service.
She said: “I would be at Grantham, then go to Spalding for a year before spending a year at Grantham.
“We’ve all worked with each other over the years and we would often come across each other at different times.
“Every case has an impact on me but, for me, it’s about working together as a team, finding the person responsible and making sure they are prosecuted for their crime.
“A lot of it is how you deal with things personally and I’m also trained as a Family Liaison Officer, although I’m now a Family Liaison Coordinator which has given me more experience in being able to deal with everybody else’s grief.
“But there’s an element of looking after myself as well, referring people to the expertise they need.
“If you don’t feel right about something, being able to talk about it through the professional support you have within the police organisation.”
Following her retirement this month, DI Evans will have more time to spend with her husband’s family in Spalding after showing her police badge for the final time today.
For the last six years, she has been based in the East Midlands Special Operations Unit - Major Crime team, drawing together detectives from across the East Midlands to work on murder and manslaughter cases.
DI Evans said: “When I decided upon a career in policing as a teenager, I was attracted to the role portrayed by the TV character Juliet Bravo.
“My best friend’s father was a Police Constable in Lincolnshire and so, when I was at school, we used to get involved in talking about the things we were going to do as a career.
“However, the path I have taken throughout my service has ended up bearing more of a resemblance to that of Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison (from the TV series Prime Suspect), dealing with homicides across the East Midlands.
“There are certain things that make you raise your eyebrows and wonder ‘What’s happened here?’
“But whatever the circumstances are, our goal as police officers is to trace the offender and see to it that they are prosecuted.
“It doesn’t make any difference whether it’s a burglary, car theft or murder because it’s part of my job, I chose to do it and I enjoy the investigation, bringing cases to a successful conclusion.
“I’ll miss the feeling of working with a great team of people, which is something that’s of a great deal of importance to me.
“I’ve been completely and fully supported as a woman in the police service and there are no barriers in terms of the roles that I do.
“I’ve achieved what I’ve wanted to achieve, so it’s time to look forward and do something else.
“There’s nothing that has taken me by surprise in my job, but I’m going to take a few months off because I’ve spent an awful lot of years on call - waiting at the other end of a telephone until it rings.
“I’ve got some good friends who I’ll miss terribly and I had a nice chat with the Chief Constable about retiring.
“I did my job to the best of my ability, without shouting it from the rooftops, so it’s very nice when people say ‘well done Helen’.”