Helen Schofield was eight years into her policing career when she was encouraged to consider becoming a detective.
Despite her initial doubts, the then uniformed sergeant, who was also a mum to a young son at the time, decided to try life as an investigator – and it was the best career decision she ever made.
Now as a Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) she has spent the last nine years solving hundreds of crimes and supporting victims through some of the most difficult times in their lives.
She balances life as senior officer and mum to now two children, alongside her husband who also works in force.
“I did not join the police to become a detective – far from it - I really loved my time in uniform. When someone first suggested the idea I really didn’t think I would have what it takes to do the job but I can honestly say now I could not consider doing anything else, it is so rewarding,” said Helen.
“I love the challenge that comes with investigating a crime and having to problem solve. It is so satisfying to build a case up from nothing, solve a crime against the odds, bring offenders to justice and most importantly find answers for victims – they are the reason we do what we do.
“Being in the police there is a constant juggle with family life, neither role is 9-5. But I have always felt like there is flexibility and I am able to get the best of both worlds.”
Since taking those first tentative steps into a new world of cracking cases, Helen has worked to solve many types of crimes, including some of the most serious offences.
Starting out as a detective sergeant in 2012, the now 38-year-old began life tracking down burglars, robbers and those committing vehicle crime before broadening her knowledge and skills to include violent offences, fraud and other neighbourhood crimes.
One of the first big jobs she was involved in as a detective was a string of burglaries happening in Mosques across Leicester. Thanks to the efforts and investigative skill of the team involved they were able to charge four people with 23 offences and as a result all of the criminals were sent to prison.
“That was one of my first jobs as a detective and it was amazing. I learnt so much about what it means to be an investigator and the tactics available to us to catch those responsible. I can’t describe the feeling we all felt after working so hard to pull a case together and then hearing from the prosecutor that there was enough evidence to charge all four of them,” Helen added.
In 2015 Helen moved to be a part of the force’s Signal team, a unit of detectives specialising in investigating rapes and sexual assaults, before taking on more responsibility as a detective inspector dealing with a broad range of offences.
While working in the rank Helen also spent a significant amount of time working in the child exploitation hub, solving crimes committed against children for sexual satisfaction and criminal gain, supporting the victims and their families and identifying any children at risk.
“Working on jobs involving children is always tough but knowing your work has helped put a stop to the abuse they have suffered makes it all worthwhile,” she said.
“I dealt with a horrible case where the child was being abused by a family friend but the strength shown by the victim was truly amazing. It was thanks to the work of all the detectives involved that we were able to gather enough evidence to send him to prison and ensure she was finally safe.
“I think no matter where my career continues to take me this area of policing is where my heart will always be. It is one of the most challenging areas of our world as it often involves dealing with victims who don’t even realise they are victims.”
Having recently moved up the ranks again to the position of Detective Chief Inspector (DCI), Helen is now heading up a team that looks to help reduce reoffending among those who pose the highest risk in society and to work with partners to understand some of the causes of offender behaviour.
She added: “I feel very lucky to have had such an interesting and varied career as a detective so far and I am excited to see where it will continue to take me. Whatever role or rank I am I always want to be the best I can be to ensure we are providing the best possible service to our communities.”