What did you do before you joined Hertfordshire Constabulary?
I worked in a number of roles before joining the Constabulary. My family's line of work is hairdressing and so I dabbled with a hairdressing course and helping out at the salon. I had a strong interest in journalism and so I completed a degree in the subject and I did freelance work editing a fashion magazine. Although it was nice seeing my name in print, this wasn't necessarily an avenue I wanted to pursue. While I was studying, I worked in retail and I continued in this industry after my degree. I worked in various roles and prior to joining the police, I worked as a Loss Prevention Officer, dealing with shoplifters, fraud and staff dishonesty. This was a position that I worked my way up to, but after a few years in this role, I felt like I had gone and achieved everything I wanted to in the retail industry. I wanted a change and a challenge and so I decided to embark on a new career path.
Why did you want to become a Police Officer?
I initially joined Hertfordshire Constabulary as a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO), based in Broxbourne. I did this for nearly three years before applying and joining as a regular Police Officer.
It was working as a Loss Prevention Officer that initially gave me the steer towards a policing career though. When handing over detainees or paperwork to the police, they would often chat to me about their day. Every time, it was a different story - a traffic incident, a lost child, chaos at the pub, a domestic in the street. Meanwhile, I was in my CCTV room with no windows and a limited scope of workload and these snippets of police life inspired me.
As I am shy and had no other real insight into the police, I wanted to become a PCSO first. Each new role I have ever stepped foot into has been a personal challenge – a conflict between wanting to better myself and doing things that are way outside of my comfort zone. I remember how daunting it had been to talk over the tanoy, to phone in requests, to detain shoplifters... but in each role, I pushed myself to overcome the scary elements until I felt confident and comfortable in that role. It is at that point that I have always looked for the next big push and becoming a PCSO was my first big push into the police.
Just wearing the uniform, operating a radio and being out in the community was a challenge in itself. The role helped to show me what to expect as a regular Police Officer. With encouragement from my Police Officer colleagues, being a PCSO confirmed that I wanted to be a regular Police Officer too.
Why did you choose Hertfordshire?
I chose Hertfordshire for a few reasons. From a practical point of view, it was easily commutable from where I lived but most of all, I liked that it was a relatively small Constabulary which means that you are never just a number. I wanted to work somewhere where there weren't too many departments so that I could have more chance of being exposed to new areas and subsequently learn more and gain extra experiences. The more I learnt about the Constabulary and its ethics, the more it appealed to me. Once I became a PCSO within Hertfordshire, I couldn't think of working anywhere else.
When I initially thought about joining the police, I was aware I could transfer to a different Constabulary if I wanted to, such as one closer to home. However, I quickly found my feet in Hertfordshire and in nine years of working here, that idea has never crossed my mind!
What did your family and friends say when you said you wanted to join the police?
With no close friends or family from a policing background and being quite shy, I think I surprised people with my career choice. Everyone expected me to pursue the career in journalism or stay within retail.
Although it was a shock to everyone, my friends and family alike were so supportive, if not envious of my courage to just go for it. My family were understandably worried about my safety, but overall, they were proud as punch and still are.
How did you find the training? The best bit, the toughest part?
The training required me to be on the ball, focused and ready to learn. It was very rewarding and week by week, I would learn new interesting things and build on my knowledge. Being shy, I worried about role playing and getting things wrong, but I grew in confidence as the course progressed.
At the time, being back in a classroom environment felt tough and draining, but the first relationships you build in the police are with those who you join with. These are people you will always remember for the length of your service. You are all in the same boat and all pull together - it's the first sense of that police family.
The toughest part overall is the thought of going out on the street after the training, especially as the public will not know that you are brand new! It was difficult not knowing what job you will be called to and what piece of information you will need to extract. However, the support continues from the classroom and things start to make more sense when you put it into practice with your coaches. Although massively daunting, it is the learning you do on the streets that is the most helpful and the most gratifying.
What have you done since you joined?
I worked on the frontline for five years and throughout that time, I put myself forward for courses and attachments to expand my skills and understanding. I became a response driver which means I can drive a police car on blue lights. I also trained to became a Taser carrier and an initial point of contact for sexual offences, and domestic abuse cases. I am also specifically public order/ riot trained and qualified to ‘bash down' doors for rapid entry!
I have also had my fair share of attachments to other departments in the police, including with the Road Policing Unit, the Armed Policing Unit, the Domestic Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit, Crime Investigation departments and even the police helicopter. These have given me a snapshot of what their daily work looks like and also how they help in my role.
I am now on a tactical county resource team. We are a plain clothes unit that deal with high profile, high risk or violent arrests and warrants. We also investigate county drug lines and cannabis factories. We work alongside many other specialised units as a resource on the ground, including for the major crime, firearms and covert units.
As part of this recent role I am now trained in drug identification and drug testing.
Alongside my normal day job, I am also a mentor. I work alongside the recruitment department to assist people through the recruitment journey. This is a very rewarding role; being a point of contact for those people making that decision to work for Hertfordshire Constabulary and seeing them make it into uniform.
Recently as a mentor, I took a step out of my comfort zone again by accepting to speak in front of a large group of people! This was a roleplay interview in front of potential new recruits and it helped to give them an idea of how the application process works.
What do you like about the job?
I love that every day is different. Some days, you are truly thanked for the work that you do and it's nice knowing that you have made a positive impact on someone's life. It is usually a small task that you complete, that they will remember for the rest of their life.
On the flip side when you deal with the gruesome, horrible or bad things, I like that you face it as part of a team. These are situations that you would probably never see in any other line of work and you build relationships with your team to get through it and support one another.
You see the best and worst in people and I like that you just don't get that anywhere else. This job really opens your eyes.
How do the public respond to you in your role as a Police Officer?
In general, the public realise you are just doing a job. Many are thankful and most are respectful. There are times when drink, drugs, stress, or other factors will affect how people react to police, but overall the public respond in a manner to which you police. If you are fair and honest with them, they will thank you – even if you are giving them a traffic ticket or interviewing them for an offence.
Why would you recommend policing as a career?
Some days it feels like the hardest job in the world and I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but every job has days like that! And with the downs there are many ups. Even when you moan and have bad days, you still wouldn't see yourself doing any other job.
I would never get the rewards, adrenaline, challenges and variety in any other career. If I feel I want a change, I can apply to move to a different role or department and then complete different work – there are so many opportunities in the police! Ultimately, the police has moulded me into who I am today and I now see the world in a completely different light.
Like any career, policing isn't for everyone – but for those who like a challenge and want to do the best by others – this could totally be for you.