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“You’re going to laugh at this, but it was The Bill,” says Detective Sergeant Dave Speight, when asked what made him decide he wanted to become a police officer.
“I used to watch it three times a week and I’d sit there thinking ‘That’s the life – that’s what I want to do!”
Without hesitation – and again when asked – he can recall the date of his first day in force, having decided it was time for a career change. “It was 17 February 1992,” he explains. “I was in my early 30s.”
Ryton - Class of 1992
Now, he’s preparing to leave a job he says he’s enjoyed every minute of as he heads into retirement.
Born in Somerset, DS Speight moved around as a youngster due to his dad’s job in the RAF. “I’ve lived in Germany, Malta and Cyprus, then I ended up in Leicestershire when my mum met my stepdad,” he says.
Prior to a life in policing, DS Speight was a maintenance electrician at the Leicester Royal Infirmary – but what he saw on television tempted him down a very different path. “I thought to myself, do I want to do this for the rest of my life, or do I want to do something more exciting?” he explains.
“I decided to apply and it was always in my mind that if I was unsuccessful, I’d just go back to what I was doing, but I was accepted and the rest is history.
“When I first joined, in 1992, I was based at Braunstone. There’s one job I remember that was very early on. We got a call saying there was a wedding going on and there were about 20 people fighting.
“We went along and they stopped fighting one another and tried to fight us. That was a proper welcome to the job.”
While still in his probation period, he was afforded a taste of life as a detective and again, it made an immediate impression.
“Straight away I knew that’s where I wanted to be, investigating and bringing people committing crimes to justice,” he says.
“I had stints at Hinckley and Beaumont Leys in the 90s and early 2000s and sat and passed my detective exams in 2006.”
Looking to progress further, DS Speight then sat – and passed – his sergeant exams the following year.
“After I passed, I had to do a year back in uniform,” he says. “But I always wanted to get back into a detective role.”
He was then posted to Keyham Lane, joining the serious crime team where he worked for two years until 2010. After that, he became part of Operation Spartan.
“That was our dedicated ‘guns and gangs’ team,” he explains.
“I absolutely loved it. We had some fantastic results with our work. We managed to get convictions against a lot of people involved in really serious crimes and we got a lot of firearms off them too.”
When his two previous departments merged – leading to the creation of what is now the Complex Investigation Team (CIT) – DS Speight continued to be driven by a desire to target offenders.
“Again, it’s somewhere we had some fantastic results. It was a job that brought a lot of satisfaction because you could see the impact you were making,” he said.
Over the years, DS Speight has had trips overseas executing European Arrest Warrants in Madrid and Amsterdam, bringing back two of Leicestershire’s most dangerous criminals, both wanted for separate attempted murders.
He won Investigator of the Year in 2015, and felt very honoured when the Police Federation nominated him for the National Investigator of the Year award too.
Winning Investigator of the Year
DS Speight and his team also received further recognition after investigating an armed robbery at a jeweller on the Golden Mile, which led to the arrest and conviction of four criminals from the West Midlands. The team received recognition for their excellent work, and got an invitation to attend the Leicester Jewellers AGM where they received an Engraved Blue Tinted Vase as an appreciation for all their hard work and the safety reassurance they had given to the local community.
This didn’t go unnoticed as national tv took an interest and the investigation was highlighted and shown on Caught Red Handed – with DS Speight making a guest appearance!
Following his time in Complex, he moved to the Prison Investigation Team for 12 months. He then moved to Central Leicester CID, based at Mansfield House, and has been there since.
His career has spanned more than 30 years and a lot has changed in that time. But, as a known technophobe, there’s one thing he has noticed more than most.
“I don’t mind saying I’m a dinosaur,” he says jokingly. “I think most people know I struggle with technology and I still type with just my two index fingers. The way technology has changed since I joined has changed a lot.”
But, although his career is drawing to a close, the Speight family will continue to have their place in the force.
“My daughter, Lauren, joined around five years ago,” he says.
“She’s a detective constable in the Child Abuse Investigation Unit (CAIU). I’d never push her into doing anything, but I think her decision was influenced by me coming home and talking about what I’d been up to.”
DS Speight with daughter Lauren at her passing out parade
Now in his early 60s, DS Speight says he doesn’t know what lies ahead. “I’m going to take some time for myself but I need to keep myself occupied.
“What I can say is I’ve loved every minute – I’ve had no regrets at all.”
Dave Speight with his daughter Lauren at his passing our parade in 1992