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John Briggs

Life after the Job: John Briggs

After spending much of his career as a detective, John Briggs continues to work his skills for organisations outside of the police.

Life after the Job: John Briggs

For John Briggs, it was dedication to the job that obscured preparations for life after it.

Due to his timely participation in a ground breaking case that coincided with his countdown to retirement, his career beyond the confines of Derbyshire Constabulary was not the result of any arduous planning process.

"I hadn’t really thought about what the next step would be," said John.

Being an experienced detective, demand for his investigative skills aquired during his career enabled him to continue to ply his trade on a number of international enquiries after he left policing. 

After leaving, he set himself up as an independent investigator and is currently on the island of Bermuda assisting a serious crime enquiry.

He has previously worked on high profile investigations in the Turks and Caicos Islands and Northern Ireland.

After retiring in 2005 and realising he was not yet set for a domestic life, he signed up to a recruitment agency and landed a job investigating circumstances surrounding the death of prominent Northern Irish solicitor, Rosemary Nelson.

Ms Nelson represented a number of high profile Republican clients convicted of murder, creating a politically volatile situation - and a distinct motive.

Given the tension in the country at the time, it was thought that Royal Ulster Constabulary and army had played a part in the planting of the car bomb that killed her in 1999.

John spent three years on the public inquiry, producing a 700-page report that eventually found no evidence of collusion between the state and perpetrators of the attack, for which no one has admitted responsibility.

Countdown to retirement

Any considerations about continuing to work after leaving the constabulary were displaced by the drive to investigate the death of an off-duty policeman who was hit while cycling along a stretch of dual carriageway.

The lorry driver had fallen asleep at the wheel after being encouraged to breach working regulations and make prolonged journeys without rest. Detective Superintendent Briggs' priorities therefore lay with seeking evidence to build a ground-breaking case of corporate manslaughter.

Paired with two traffic officers, he was astounded by their perception of detail along with the ability to "wax lyrical about tachographs", both of which proved key to the investigation.

He said: "We, as a team, put together all the placements the agency had done over 36 months, which was painstaking work from an understanding of how tachographs work.

"It became crucial to have that level of detail and eventually I got one of them to have a stint at being a detective sergeant, straight from traffic. It was like 'What does he know?!'

"Well actually what this guy knew, and what he proved was that he was a brilliant investigator."

The case went to court on the day of his retirement party and resulted in a successful conviction of corporate manslaughter against the director of a driving agency - a fitting conclusion to his career.

Looking to his future, he turned to his wife Denise, who stood by him understandingly as his work often took primacy over their marital life - especially during his stints in covert investigation.

John said: "She'd always understand that if you'd had a really hard day and the guys said 'Do you fancy coming for a quick one before you go home?' She understood and was very patient. So, when it came to this, my view of the world was that I'd never put her first because of work."

After advising him to take retirement out of concern about the stress of being the head of major crime brought, she went back on her decision on seeing that his detective skills weren't quite ready to be laid to rest.

"So I had a couple of months off, but there's only a certain amount of times you can walk down the cleaning aisle, looking at new products. Then Mrs Briggs said, 'I think you need to find something to do' and I hadn't done anything about looking at all," John said.

Back in the game

Using an agency to broker his niche set of skills gained from his ascent to det supt, he was put in touch with organisations outside of policing in desperate need of someone with the specialist experience possessed by him.

"Now there are people applying for jobs but there are very few that have got those skill sets, bespoke skill sets which is what a lot of people are looking for," he said.

John's assignment to the Nelson inquiry, placed through a specialist recruitment firm, ignited his career as a civilian investigator. 

John left for the Turks and Caicos Islands five months after the conclusion of the inquiry, hearing about a job from the senior investigating officer on the case.

He was sent over to investigate alleged corruption involving former government ministers on the island, working for six to eight weeks at a time, returning to the UK in between to work remotely.

Even though it sounds like something out of an early Bond film, probing contentious issues as a foreign investigator, the island has a side that rarely makes it into the holiday brochures.

John said: "[The locations] weren't wonderful, part of the brief we used to give to people was; when you stand on the beach and you look out at the sea you'll think you're in paradise. Then, just do a 180° and look behind, it's the polar opposite.

"There's a big issue about being from the UK and part of a team investigating the former government, but you learn all sorts of new skills and you do everything from changing toilet seats to fitting burglar alarms."

Fundamentally, he feels he's still applying his policing skills in the same way he has across his entire career. Though no longer a warranted officer, being posted to assignments in exotic locations he feels the core of his work has changed little, if not improved.

"I would say that some of the stuff I've been involved in since has been as interesting as any of the cases I've ever worked on," he said. "I would say that I'd probably learnt as much in these three or four excursions then I’d probably learnt in all the years before."

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