When Detective Superintendent Steve Barron began his career with the Force 26 years ago, he was attracted to the excitement, danger and unpredictable nature of the role.
As a young, 24-year-old new recruit, he wanted to catch the bad guys and haul them before the courts.
But, what he discovered as he worked his way through the ranks was that he found himself becoming drawn to more complex investigations, especially those involving vulnerable people and those in desperate need of help and assistance, rather than the stereotypical side of policing involving high speed car chases and early morning drugs raids.
That drive would see the then Detective Inspector spend the next decade of his career as a hostage and suicide negotiator – a voluntary role within Northumbria Police which sees two officers work on an on-call basis alongside their day job, attending highly pressurised and sensitive situations.
Detective Supt Barron said: “I’ve worked in a number of different roles across the Force and I would say this was one of the hardest due to the emotional and physical challenges that came with it.
“You could be out standing in a cherry picker or on a ledge near someone who is in complete distress on the wrong side of a bridge who doesn’t want to communicate with you for hours at a time.
“They might not have made a decision about what they are going to do and so you talk to them, try and strike up a rapport and help them come up with a plan of how they could move forward with their life.
“It was physically draining and mentally taxing because the reality is, you don’t know how that situation will end. You never lose sight of the fact that there is a person in crisis and that’s a really awful position to be in. The world is really tough place for a lot of people to be in – that’s the stark reality.
“I would say I remember all of the people I was called to help, those are moments that will never leave me and I would never talk about them publically. There were people who I know I helped and I’m proud I was able to do that. I purposely didn’t follow up on every person that I spoke with, my hope as you would expect, is that these people were able to get help and that life got better for them. Speaking with people in crisis can be very hard and sometimes you hear things that are hard to come to terms with and it’s a hard to switch off when you go home.”
After spending a total of 10 years as a hostage and suicide negotiator and then a coordinator in that role, Det Supt Barron decided it was time to pass the role on to someone else.
Since then, he has worked as a DCI, a homicide investigating officer and more recently, a Detective Superintendent for the team who helped secure convictions for 18 people as part of Operation Sanctuary – the force’s large-scale investigation into grooming and sexual exploitation across Newcastle.
While there have been a lot of arrests and incidents throughout his career, he still remembers his first - a woman who was well-known at their station for her frequent arrests for drunk and disorderly conduct.
“She kept trying to kiss and hug me in front of everyone as I was trying to be authoritative, it was definitely an arrest I’ll never forget,” he said.
Now, Det Supt Barron heads up the Force’s covert intelligence team within the crime department and is as committed as ever to helping keep the streets of the North East safe.