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South Holland CID lays out evidence for keeping community safe

From Sherlock Holmes to Inspector Morse, Miss Marple to Prime Suspect, Z Cars to Line of Duty - the nation's thirst for TV crime dramas is unquenchable.

But for Detective Inspector (DI) Paul Coleman and South Holland's Criminal Investigation Department (CID), based at Spalding Police Station, fighting crime is a fact of life.

He said: "South Holland is a low-crime area compared to other parts of the country but people don't necessarily understand that we can only do what the law allows us to do.

Detective Inspector Paul Coleman heads up South Holland's 16-strong CID team. (43681244)
Detective Inspector Paul Coleman heads up South Holland's 16-strong CID team. (43681244)

"Everything we do is governed by a piece of legislation and we have to work within those constraints.

"In my experience, most police officers are doing they best they can and when people ask 'Why did you let them go?' the usual answer is 'It's because of the law'".

DI Coleman, in charge at South Holland CID since January 2020, leads a team of 16 officers who investigate crimes, including burglary, fraud, robbery and murder.

Compared to the more visible image of uniformed officers based at police stations in Spalding, Holbeach and Crowland, detectives will see their cases through from the initial criminal act to an outcome at court that hopefully satisfies both the victim and wider society.

DI Coleman said: "What would typically happen is that a call would come into the Force Control Room, then uniformed officers would attend and, depending on what the incident is, there'll be some form of primary investigation.

"If the crime is of a serious nature, CID will probably get involved from the outset and while uniformed officers will have their public-facing role, we'll come in to investigate the crime and see it through to the end.

"We'll take over the ownership of the custody side of it, case file preparation and have various conversations with the Crown Prosecution Service (or CPS, the main body that conducts criminal prosecutions in England and Wales).

"But that's often just the start of it for us and we'll continue to work with the CPS right up to, and during a trial at court, if it reaches that far.

"If it's a victim-based crime, we'll maintain our communication with the victim all the way through the process and what I enjoy about the job is seeing people go to prison who need to be sent there.

"One of the highlights of my career was to be sat in a courtroom, ringing the victim to say 'We've got him'.

"The satisfaction you get from that is worth more than what my salary is and you can't put a price on it."

Working at a different level in the 'chain of command'

Detective Sergeant (DS) Paul Gurney is one of two officers of DS rank in South Holland CID, with immediate responsibility for a team of four officers on any given shift.

After joining Lincolnshire Police in 1996, DS Gurney completed a two-year probation at police stations in Bourne, Grantham and Market Deeping before becoming a detective in 2004.

He said: "I support the guys in the main CID office who form the investigation teams, assessing whether crimes should be investigated by us and then deciding who would be the most appropriate officer to deal with the case.

"The more serious cases are dealt with by the more experienced investigators, while the uniformed officers in CID will deal with the less serious crimes that are more likely to go to a magistrates' court.

"If I can identify any lines of enquiry for the investigators, I'd let them know at an early stage so they can be guided along the best lines to take, while monitoring them as they investigate the crime to see if there are any more avenues they could go down.

"But people are allowed to make their own decisions in investigations and to choose which lines of enquiry they wish to pursue.

"Then if they have any doubts or require any advice, they'll often come back up the chain of command and discuss it with us.

"For me, what makes CID such a good place to work is the varied nature of the job and no two days are the same."

PC James Wood will soon be starting his third year in CID, having joined Lincolnshire Police in 2015 and after serving his two-year probationary period in Skegness, he transferred to South Holland's neighbourhood policing team in 2017, moving to CID in January 2019.

He said: "I wanted to progress my own understanding of policing and open my world up a bit.

"You get an oversight of all the incidents and establish whether there's a pattern to any of them, then look at the people who are in custody to see if they might factor in with anything I'm doing.

"It's all about the evidence and that's what I like about the job, as well as the teamwork aspect of it where if there's a big case, we'll all muck in and work on it together."

Policing in its 'most interesting and rewarding' light

The team at South Holland CID has been praised by Lincolnshire Police's outgoing Chief Constable, Bill Skelly, who said: "The work of our criminal investigation officers can often go unseen, but it is absolutely vital in keeping the communities of Spalding and South Holland safe.

"They often deal with the most harrowing and complex criminal cases, yet they do so with professionalism and compassion.

"The role of a detective is one of the most interesting and rewarding in policing and, working alongside uniformed colleagues, they are a formidable team who tackle criminals across the county."

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