I joined the police in January 1998, having just started a family and finished working abroad I needed a ‘proper’ job. After training I was posted to Luton and have been in the south of the county ever since. Now I’m working in CID, where I have been since 2010, and it is probably the most challenging, rewarding, stressful and fun job I have had.
In the 18 years I have been working in the police the gang element in Bedfordshire has certainly risen. It is a mentality that is affecting more and more kids in the area.
I don’t know why they get involved – for some it could be the need for belonging, the feeling that someone has your back, family or money and kudos on the street.
However, whatever it is, it brings much pain to families.
Whether it is by having the police coming through your front door into your home to arrest you, the constant looking over your shoulder or the unimaginable, an officer turning up to pass on the message to your family member that you have been badly hurt – or worse.
In some cases I think it must be harder not to be in a gang and to those kids that resist getting involved I have a lot of respect.
However, they all have a choice in what they do, and I have dealt with numerous people who wish they hadn’t followed their mates down a certain path and wrecked part of their lives. Or even lost friends and family through gang crime.
In ‘The Lethal Weapon’ the biggest issue was time and witnesses. There were lots of offences and numerous witnesses who wanted to help and do the right thing, but they were also very frightened and reluctant to get too involved.
Having started work at 8am myself and another investigator worked through until 6am the following day. We would have finished much later had we not had help from the whole of our team throughout the day!
Having got the charge and he was remanded into custody the next hurdle was the gun – was it imitation or blank firing? Or was it a viable firearm? Once that was sorted it was a fairly straight forward.
I’m glad 24 Hours in Police Custody followed this job as we work hard to educate young people on the consequences of gang related crime, and the alternative lifestyles available to them.
Filming 24 Hours in Police Custody was surreal, I never expected that I would be filmed doing my day to day job.
The crew are a great bunch and come from all walks of life, just like police officers.
The reaction they get from members of the public are quite polarising from friendly banter through to naked aggression, which did make it quite interesting, but they are professional and always backed off when they were asked.
I admit I was highly sceptical of the filming but the reaction from the public after seeing what we really do has been very positive, they see the good, the bad and the downright unpleasant, they actually see what we do rather than the rumour of what we do and that is no bad thing.
Feeling pressured to join a gang or carry out tasks for gang members? It’s important you stay strong. Read our advice for young people here.
Detective Constable Martin Hart joined Bedfordshire Police in 1998. He currently works in the crime team in the south of the county.