From policing the streets of London to the beat of Salford and using his expertise on secondments in warzones, Stuart Collier’s varied and fulfilled career has led him back to policing in his retirement… and it is all funded by money seized from criminal’s pockets.
Salford born and bred, Stuart (or Stu as he prefers) didn’t always fancy a career in policing. Whilst training in college to be a land surveyor, he saw an advert in his local paper to join the Metropolitan Police Force.
Little did he know, signing up to join the police on a small coupon at the bottom of a newspaper could be the start of a long and fulfilled career in policing.
After completing interviews and applications, he officially joined the Met as a Police Constable in 1985, at only 22 years old, and served a proportion of his time in Brixton.
After spending a few years as an officer in London – he decided to move back up north to homely Greater Manchester, to join GMP in the 1990s, in his hometown of Salford and spent a few years serving on district Crime Investigation Departments in both Eccles and Manchester City Centre and also on specialist major incident teams working as a detective, Stu was posted to different police squads across Greater Manchester.
After seeing the horrendous situation in former Yugoslavia on a news night programme on television, Stu contacted the United Nations to offer his assistance as a police officer who is also trained as a detective, they replied mentioning they needed body recovery specialists to help identify those placed in mass graves.
Stu Collier said: “I always wanted to deal with the most serious criminal offences. I remember watching footage on TV of 1000s of people being displaced and forced out of Kosovo and thought that I really needed to get involved and help in any way I could. At this time, I had over 10 years’ experience under my belt as a detective and knew that the skills I learnt in my career could be of use to help people oversees.”
And after a few weeks of additional training, for the next two months, Stu was based in Kosovo. His work was invaluable and the evidence the team obtained was the foundation for the indictments against Milosovic and other war criminals. The time he spent was ensuring that those placed in mass graves were identified and returned to their family members to ensure they can be buried with dignity and respect.
Stu returned to CID and carried on with his career, when another opportunity came along to retrain the new Iraqi police service in 2007, following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, and won an award for “Outstanding contribution to the rebuilding of Iraq”.
Finishing off his career as a police officer, Stu retired in 2015 and took two years from work, spending his time volunteering and teaching at a school in Bury. He was then invited to work in the Economic Crime Unit as they were interested in filling positions in the unit for ex-detectives and in 2017, Stu returned to GMP as an Investigation Support Officer within the unit.
Stu’s role is funded by ARIS, as part of the Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme some of the funds recovered by GMP are returned to our force to be utilised in furthering asset recovery work, funding community initiatives and on policing operations.
Stu said: “The hours it takes to formulate the evidence to take to the CPS for some of these jobs in the unit is enormous and anything I can do to help, like taking statements and liaising with victims, something which I have great experience in, can help them to do the work warranted police officers are supposed to do without having to worry about admin duties as that can take up a lot of their time.
“I am an Investigative Support Officer and that is what I think I do for the officers in the unit, support them in their work to achieve our collective goal of bringing those people responsible of economic crimes to justice and protecting vulnerable people.
“I just love being in the cops, it’s what I do and all I am used to. I have been doing it since I was 22 and when I stopped, I didn’t like it and wanted to come back.
“It fills me with such positivity that you are really, I mean really, making a difference to people in our communities and I am really privileged to have served as a police officer for the majority of my life.”
Detective Superintendent Joe Harrop, who oversees the Economic Crime Unit, said: “Stu’s experience is invaluable to the unit. His hard work and dedication is shown through his work and presence in the team.
“This shows that the money we seize from criminals is really going to good use to either further our asset recovery work like with Stu’s role, on policing operations to protect the community from crime or on community organisations that support GMP’s objective to fight crime, protect victims and keeping the public safe.”