Detective Constable Timo Franke: from teaching chemistry to investigating murder

“In the police, no two days are alike. You can generally plan your days, but mostly things will turn out different to what you expect. It’s all part of the appeal!”

“It was always a Sunday ritual in our family to watch a programme called ‘Tatort’, which translates to Crime Scene,” Timo remembers. “It followed fictional detectives solving the most perplexing crimes, whilst driving fast cars, jumping through windows and arresting the bad guys - all whilst looking cool and saving the day.”

Although it wasn’t ultimately his passion, Timo enjoyed teaching and it had its benefits for his future career. “Teaching taught me a lot about interacting with people and surprisingly, there are a lot of transferable skills. Both professions rely on good communication skills that can be applied to a variety of situations,” he says.

After joining Derbyshire Constabulary and spending the first few years developing as an officer, Timo knew he was ready for a new challenge. He applied for the force’s ‘PC to DC’ programme, which allows police constables to undertake further training and exams in order to become detective constables.

“I have been a detective for three years now at this point in my career and I could not imagine doing anything else. Whilst not every day is driving fast, or indeed jumping through windows, these are all things I have experienced as a detective. The general impression is that being a detective is an office-based role, and while that is true, it also offers a world of opportunities. 

Since becoming a detective, Timo has been involved in some of the most serious criminal investigations. “I have been involved in a murder investigation, and I was able to interview the main suspect over a 5 day period,” he explains. “I have always enjoyed interviewing and this was a real eye opener as to the direction you can take it in.”

Speaking another language has also opened up doors, after a large investigation linked to Germany meant a translator was needed urgently. “As a German speaker I was able to assist with the urgent translation of documents needed for court, as well as liaising with the German State Prosecutor. Whilst this opportunity may have presented itself through my ability to speak German, it did highlight how many different people and departments have to come together in order to investigate these incidents.”

While the day-to-day work of a detective is not always on this scale, Timo does enjoy the variety of the role. “You can find yourself dealing with a live investigation, or laying the groundwork for a planned arrest. You could be travelling to different parts of the country to deal with a prisoner or talk to a victim, or you could find yourself at court, as the lead officer on a serious case. 

“You work with the most vulnerable people within society, and seeing cases going to trial brings a real sense of justice to those victims and an incredible feeling of satisfaction as a detective. To me, this really is the heart of policing.”