A lot of people can’t understand why anyone would choose to work with sex offenders, but I saw it as a challenge that could potentially have a huge reward at the end of it.
Investigations could end up in custodial sentences or, by working with the offenders closely, I have the opportunity to try and rehabilitate them. We also work closely with partner agencies, such as the National Probation Service.
I’ve been working in the Offender Management Unit since July 2016 after applying for a career development opportunity, as I decided I wanted to upskill and have a change of direction in my career.
Our day-to-day work consists of managing sex offenders living in the community. We are required to visit them within their home environment, and assess their risk, as well as managing their prohibitions documented in the Court Orders they have been made subject to.
The investigation world was a whole new area for me. Having already completed 14 years’ service within the force in different departments, this type of work was challenging and very intensive from day one.
The investigation concerning Gabriel May – who has just been sentenced for two years for possession of indecent images of children – started when we visited his address for the first time.
He had recently moved into Bedfordshire and was already listed on the Sex Offenders Register after serving a two-year custodial sentence back in 2014 when living in Aylesbury.
The Offender Management Unit at Bedfordshire Police is very proactive and we carry out unannounced home visits.
May had been using his computer before we arrived and I noticed the different window pages open on his device. His computer was looked at and due to an image that I found concerning, we called our colleagues working within the Cyber Hub to assist us and complete a download of his computer at the scene using their specialist equipment.
The download revealed that May had been using search terms relating to indecent images of children and he was arrested. He had also concealed other storage devices in his room that put him in breach of his Court Order from his previous conviction.
The devices were sent to our Cyber Hub to be triaged and downloaded. All seven devices seized from May’s home address were positive for indecent images.
The sheer amount of images to grade was overwhelming. On one device alone, there were over 4,000 images. My colleague and I painstakingly graded the images over a period of three weeks. The indecent material that was downloaded onto the devices was difficult to look at and very distressing.
We are very lucky in the Offender Management team that we have a wealth of experience on hand from our colleagues and our supervisors within the unit. We called on some of our colleagues who are experienced in such offences to assist us with the grading of the images and file preparation.
In total, May was found to have 1,593 Category A images, 971 Category B images, 905 Category C images, 480 prohibited images and 87 extreme pornography images and videos.
He has also been made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and breaching this order upon his release could result in a five years imprisonment.
This investigation lasted 10 months. My colleagues within the unit are always there to help one another and I feel privileged to work with such an amazing bunch of people. I couldn’t have done it without them all.
Nikki Penniston-Kordek, Investigation Officer