As we say farewell to Detective Constable Lorraine Speight, who retired this month, we take a look back over her incredible career with Lincolnshire Police.
Lorraine had always wanted to be a Police Officer. At 17 years old, she spoke to two local officers in Sleaford expressing this calling. They told her to keep that dream in mind, but to first go and see the world. So Lorraine did just that and joined the RAF. She said, “The Air Force made me who I am and the Police benefited from that.” Lorraine had many postings including three years in Germany. In the Falklands, she met her husband, Mickey, and they have two children, now aged 27 and 30. At the time, Lorraine was one of the first women ever to stay in the RAF after having a baby.
Lorraine left the RAF after ten years of service and after a short “break”, where Lorraine gained a qualification in Psychology, she came to Lincolnshire Police where she continued to balance having a young family with a demanding job. She said, “This was possible because of my Mum and Dad, as Mickey was away with the Army. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the family support that I have had; I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Lorraine started in Uniform in Sleaford, moving on to CID and then into her final role over the last ten years as a Detective in the Major Crime Unit (MCU). Lorraine, who is clearly meticulously organised and confesses to “love files”, worked on 60 murder cases, acting as the Family Liaison Officer on many. This is a challenging role in which Lorraine says she has met “some of the best people in the world” but also seen some of the most horrific and saddest of cases. Lorraine explained that some of the experiences stay with you. “I wanted to be a Family Liaison Officer because I wanted to do more. These families are facing the hardest time of their lives and I hoped that I could perhaps make a little bit of a difference. There are many families that I will never forget. There was a case in Lincoln where a boy was killed. His mum’s strength throughout this ordeal was truly amazing. Every year I light a candle for her little boy, and I always will.”
Lorraine has been highly praised during her career. For her work on the murder of Sam Davies in Lincoln, following a 14-week trial that saw her working extremely long hours each day of the trial and most weekends, she received a commendation for what the Judge referred to as her “monumental effort.” Lorraine explained, “It was one of the largest murder enquiries conducted by the Major Crime Unit and was not without its challenges. For example the case included over 1200 exhibits. I didn’t see my home much within the ten months of the enquiry getting to court. That said my dog, Sherlock, still remembered me when I did get home, so it was all good.”
Four men were found guilty of murder following that trial, and were sentenced to a combined total of 97 years. Of her dedication to the case, her colleague Detective Constable Nick Elmer, said, “Lorraine was the absolute driving force behind the investigation. I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as she did. The sheer resilience she showed was inconceivable - many people would have buckled under half the pressure. She bent over backwards to make sure that the trial went smoothly, and her dedication ultimately got justice for a family going through something no one should ever have to. She was a credit to the unit and a role model to the detectives in Lincolnshire Police.”
But along with praise for her dedication, Lorraine has also been the subject of hate and distrust, simply for doing the job she does. She remembers one encounter with an acquaintance. “He bizarrely thought for some reason that I was a nurse. When he found out what I did he was horrified. I asked him if he was murdered, would he not want me to investigate that. He replied that no, he would be dead. So I asked if a family member was murdered, would he not want that to be investigated and he conceded that he would.”
Of the challenge for the Police Service to build trust and confidence Lorraine said, “Everyone I have met just wants to do their best. We do have to be transparent but the people I have worked with put their hand up if they get something wrong.” In terms of the future for her department, Lorraine has hope, “These are people who put their heart and soul into the job. We have new Officers starting in the unit, they are all experienced Detectives, and they are so keen, they are like sponges, soaking up everything there is to learn about the unit.” She adds with a smile, “I feel I can walk off into the sunset knowing that the unit is in safe hands.”
Lorraine spoke of what’s in store for her future. “I want to take a step back. I want to spend some time with family and catch up with friends. I have been a Police Officer for 23 years and I’m looking forward to my new challenge in my next role, where hopefully people will be pleased to see me, and I can continue to make a difference.”
To anyone considering a career with Lincolnshire Police, Lorraine would say, “I have had the best laughs but also seen the saddest things. It is the most rewarding job and you will forge friendships like no other. You will meet the most amazing people, both in the public and in your colleagues.”
Assistant Chief Constable Chris Davison spoke of Lorraine’s contribution during her time with Lincolnshire Police. He said, “Lorraine has worked incredibly hard on some of the most disturbing cases in Lincolnshire’s most recent past. I thank her for her incredible dedication, but more importantly for all the closure and support she has given to family and friends of victims through the years. She leaves us for a well-deserved rest, and we wish her all the best for her retirement.”
As we say farewell to Lorraine, we recognise what we have lost. Lorraine is a legend. She imparts her wisdom and knowledge to everyone she meets, from the families she has supported, to her colleagues. She is dedicated, loyal and brave and she epitomises everything the Police Force aspires to be. Detective Constable Lorraine Speight is, and always will be, one of Lincolnshire’s finest.