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Detective Inspector Jo Walker leads Hertfordshire Police’s Child Protection Unit. It’s a gruelling and pressurised role – last year, her team secured 136 convictions for child abuse and cruelty.
We meet Jo as she supervises investigations into a suspected groomer of young girls and into a case of historic abuse, where the victim is coming forward years after the offence.
Complaints like this have leapt fourfold in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal and the work takes its toll: "I have faces and images in my head which I will take with me to my grave," she says. "You never forget a face...I'm tough but I'm not that tough."
Through it all – and with the help of her ex-policeman husband, sixteen-year-old son and two dogs – Jo manages to stay sane and cheerful.
Landmark Films’ cameras follow Hertfordshire’s most senior female police detectives at home and at work
"I have a few images in my head now which I will take with me to my grave. You never forget the face...I'm tough but I'm not that tough.” Detective Inspector Jo Walker, Child Protection, Hertfordshire Police
This unique new six-part factual series shows how senior women detectives balance running investigations into serious and sometimes disturbing crimes with often complex personal and family lives.
Filmed over a year unprecedented access to officers from the Hertfordshire force at home and at work, Married To The Job introduces us to Detective Chief Inspector Julie Wheatley and Detective Inspectors Jo Walker, Kay Lancaster and Lynda Coates. Between them, the four detectives have more than 75 years of police experience and are a rare breed - only one in five senior officers is a woman.
From prisoners who abscond to ruthless conmen who prey on the elderly, and from prolific burglars to cases of child abuse, this series vividly depicts how the detectives face some of the most challenging criminals in Hertfordshire. The detectives are seen at home with their families, and talk openly about the pressures of juggling their personal lives with absorbing investigations, and the emotional impact of dealing with victims of crime.
The cameras follow DI Kay Lancaster as she adapts to single life - she has separated from her policeman husband and is trying to keep family life on track for her young sons. Meanwhile, at work she's fighting a spate of crimes by gangs who victimise and bully the elderly, with sometimes tragic consequences. Kay says she keeps her ‘working kit’ of fluorescent jacket and wellies under her desk, just in case: "I always wear high heels [in the office] because otherwise people think I'm a munchkin. But I have been known to have to stand in a field most of the night digging up a shallow grave and you don't want to do that in high heels."
Her best friend, DI Jo Walker, runs Hertfordshire's Child Protection Unit. Jo deals with sex abuse and child cruelty and, in the series, viewers see her supervising one of the most serious child battering cases the Hertfordshire force has ever faced - work for which she later won a commendation. At home, she and her 16-year-old son support husband Graham through weeks of chemotherapy for cancer.
DCI Julie Wheatley manages some of the county's most dangerous offenders. Viewers see her on the way to prison to interview a murderer approaching his release date and watch her team tracking down a violent criminal who has absconded while on leave from prison. At the end of her working day, she collects her 16-year-old daughter Sarah, who has a learning disability, from the child minders. She explains how proud she is of her daughter: "At work, everything is complex - people are complex, people have got problems. But, when I come home (with Sarah), it’s really quite simple."
The series also follows DI Lynda Coates. At home, she and her police inspector husband juggle shift patterns and childcare for their lively kids. At work, she keeps an eagle eye on Hertfordshire's most prolific criminals - running an innovative scheme in which she has persuaded around 30 offenders to voluntarily wear tags which monitor their every movement. She talks about how all-encompassing her job can be: "You don't become a DI unless you’re prepared to be married to the job. When you take that job on, it becomes who you are."
Married to the Job is made for ITV by Landmark Films. The series producer is Tanya Stephan and the executive producer is Nick O’Dwyer for Landmark Films.