Even after the toughest of days, knowing that I can improve someone’s life and make a positive difference for them keeps me going.

Before I joined Bedfordshire Police in 2014, I spent 11 years in the Royal Military Police and worked around the world, including the UK, Germany, Canada, Kenya, Iraq, Kuwait and South East Asia.

My time in the military, working in so many different places with people from such varied backgrounds and cultures, taught me one of my biggest skills, which is the ability to communicate with others on a personal level. It’s not just about what you say, it’s also about your body language and how you express yourself, and how you learn to adapt your style to suit those you interact with.

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My ambition is to help this force achieve excellence

At Bedfordshire Police everybody matters; every person in the chain matters and we all add value to the objective, which is to keep people safe.

We are a small cardre of Superintendents and Chief Superintendents and the expectation is that you can do lots of different things and that you’re omnicompetent across different areas. There’s responsibility of the entire force sitting on your shoulders at times and relationships with other people are important to get the job done. But there’s lots of room for ideas, innovation and for thinking of how we can do things better and differently.

My ambition is to help this force achieve excellence and I think everybody who works here wants the force to be excellent.

There are pockets of excellence everywhere I look and some really superb people, working against the odds at times, to achieve some fantastic outcomes.

When I joined Bedfordshire Police I was put into a role that suited my skills, which is something that is nice to have happen to you. Often in policing you’re just put in a job and not much account is taken of your skill set and your experience, nothing could be further from the truth at Bedfordshire Police. The Detective Chief Superintendent at the time, sat down with me and found out about me, what I’m good at, what skills I have and gave me, in my opinion, the best job in the force.

It was good to feel valued, to have someone look at what I’ve done in the past and think you can add real value for us in this role.

I transferred to Bedfordshire Police after spending 18 years in the Met. Moving out of the Met was a big decision for me but it was fuelled by wanting to work for my home force and help make the county I live in be the safest place for my family. Another driver was the opportunities available by being a part of a tri-force collaboration and working with teams in Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, as well as the potential for secondment this gives.

Bedfordshire has metropolitan problems but with county level, rural funding and it felt most closely aligned with my experiences in the Met. Luton feels very much like a London borough; the problems and the challenges are very similar.

I felt it was like something I know and can bring value to.

Julie Henderson, Detective Superintendent.

Our Superintendent and Chief Superintendent recruitment process is currently open, applications close on Sunday 4 October. If you would like to join Bedfordshire police please visit www.bedfordshire.police.uk/superintendents

Helping a victim to overcome honour-based abuse

Today (14 July) is the annual day of remembrance for those killed in so-called “honour” crimes, and to raise awareness of the often hidden crimes of honour-based abuse and forced marriage.

Holly Burton, Victim Engagement Officer, shares a recent experience of honour-based abuse.

In my role as a Victim Engagement Officer (VEO) with the Emerald team, I’m trained to support the victims of domestic abuse, in whatever form that takes, and however much or little help is needed. Some victims just need advice and a listening ear, others need more practical help, or measures to keep them safe from their abuser.
While our specially trained police officers deal with the investigation of a case, we are there purely for the victim; to provide help and assistance with anything and everything, at what is probably the worst time in someone’s life.
A few months ago, I visited a young woman in hospital, where she was being treated following an attempt to take her own life.

Accompanied by the detective who would be investigating the abuse that this woman had suffered, we heard first hand about the unbearable torment her family had put her through.

She disclosed that they disapproved of her boyfriend, and were pressuring her to end the relationship, but more worryingly, she had also been assaulted by multiple family members for refusing to marry someone else.

In sheer desperation at her situation, feeling hopeless, and not knowing where to find help, she overdosed on paracetamol and tried to drink bleach. Luckily she was taken to hospital where they saved her life.

Together with support from the hospital’s safeguarding lead, and an Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA), we were able to keep her safe, and I was then able to find temporary accommodation on her release from hospital.

She was concerned about her job, and that her family might go to her workplace to find her, so I liaised with her employer to implement further safeguarding measures. They were sympathetic to her situation and amenable to finding a remote-working solution, so she could continue her role while she got settled.

Happily, she has now made a permanent move to a new location, and I just heard that she’s engaged to marry her boyfriend. I am delighted that we were able to help this woman escape the so called honour-based abuse she had suffered, which is often masked by culture, tradition and religion, and hidden within the community.

If you are a victim of honour-based abuse or violence, there is much we can do to help.

Your personal safety is the most important, and if you feel that you are in danger, you should contact the police immediately.


To report a crime, call police on 101. Always call 999 in an emergency.

14 July would have been Shafilea Ahmed’s birthday and was chosen as the day of remembrance by Karma Nirvana, a national charity to support victims of honour-based abuse and forced marriage.


Shafilea Ahmed was a 17-year-old British Pakistani girl from Warrington, who was murdered by her parents in a suspected “honour killing” in September 2003 in the belief that their daughter was too Westernised, and refused a forced marriage.

Forced Marriage Unit – Foreign & Commonwealth Office www.fco.gov.uk/forcedmarriage
Freedom Charity www.freedomcharity.org.uk
Domestic Abuse National Helpline (24 hour line) 0808 2000247
Karma Nirvana helpline 0800 599 247

NB: Some details have been left out to protect the victim’s identity.

Holly Burton – Bedfordshire Police VEO