A 30-year career with the force has taken Kevin Vanterpool from Cambridge beat bobby to Detective Superintendent with much in-between, from large-scale operations to massive drugs seizures. Here Kevin, who was educated at St Ivo School, in St Ives, tells us about his most memorable work and the stand-out moments that motivate him.
I was 19 when I decided to apply for the police. My elder sister had already joined, although that wasn’t the reason for me applying. I was looking for a career that was different, with a bit of variety and interest, and it just seemed like a good idea. I had applied for the Navy and didn’t get in so I applied with police forces and Cambridgeshire came in.
I started in Cambridge in July 1986 as a constable, then became a detective, spending some time in St Neots as a uniform sergeant, and progressing to inspector.
I then went on a six-year secondment with the then National Crime Squad. It was a great opportunity to travel and tackle crime at the very highest level and across the globe. It involved dealing with things like drug and contract killings and travelling to countries in Europe, South Africa, the USA and the Caribbean. One of the most memorable moment was when I was the senior investigating officer (SIO) on the largest ever seizure of counterfeit £50 notes in this country: £750,000 in total.
After spending time as the detective inspector for Cambridge I became head of serious and organised crime for the force. This included financial investigations, money laundering, and drugs but the operation that stands out was called Radium, the force’s first on human trafficking and exploitation. It involved visits to brothels and learning about debt bondage, servitude and other exploitation. It was a real eye-opener for me and the force but very rewarding in that we actually made a difference, particularly for the many women we rescued.
Another very memorable part of my career was in 2010, when I was communities chief inspector in Peterborough. I led the community engagement for Op Autumn, the first English Defence League march and counter protest in Peterborough. It involved three months of massively intensive community engagement with more than 120 community meetings in run-up to the day. On the day of the protest – half way through – there was a disturbance in the Cromwell Road area with a large gathering of young people. Tensions were high with lots of police around. I took the decision to withdraw police resources because our presence was causing more problems than it was solving. I said let’s withdraw and it did calm in down – it was a very memorable time in my career.
I’ve always found the greatest enjoyment from having a successful operation or investigation. There was a stranger rape in Ely and we had pretty much no idea who it was. A bobby looked at a photo-fit and said he thought it was so and so. We arrested the suspect and he was eventually jailed but the most rewarding bit was being told by forensics that they had identified the victim’s DNA on his clothing. It’s getting that breakthrough after all the hard work has been done – those are the moments that motivate you.
I can’t over-emphasise the importance of investigating crime to the final outcome, not just to the point of filing or charge, it doesn’t stop there. We owe it to victims to do the best we possibly can for them, If we don’t who will?
Policing is a great career. I can look back and say I’ve had great opportunities and you can make a difference and see it happen. I have had some amazing experiences – the opportunity to travel, secured promotion to very senior rank and the work I’ve done over 30 years has made a difference to many people’s lives in many different ways.
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