Sgt Taranvir Gill has been a Hertfordshire police officer for seven years and for most of that time he has also been mentoring hopefuls looking to join the force.
Born in Leicester, Taz, 26, moved to Hertfordshire when he was in primary school and says it was rare to spot another Sikh in the community.
The North Herts frontline cop recalls his 2010 secondary school work experience ‘ride-along’ with local police officers as a turning point when he was able to help officers aid a victim of crime by stepping in to translate, speaking Punjabi.
“I saw there and then another real difference I could make, breaking down cultural barriers between the police and the public.”
Taz continued: “I grew up with uniforms, mum working at A&E, uncles and cousins in the fire and police service, so public service was a natural step for me – helping people at their worst times. But I know that for other people from my background, Sikhs, Black people, Muslims, Hindus, and other protected characteristics, there are cultural barriers. I want to reach out and make a difference by getting the right people into our police force.”
Taz has lost count of how many people he has supported. He’s given talks to students at schools and colleges across Herts, as well as universities, and enjoys inspiring people to consider a policing career.
“I’m very passionate about coaching and mentoring, there’s nothing better than being part of a student’s journey into their dream job, I love it,” Taz smiles. “And I know it’s going to better the organisation in the long run, too, bringing the best people in, it’s a role I take personally.
“One of the biggest cultural barriers is policing not being seen as a profession with a qualification. I sometimes talk to the parents of people I’m mentoring, who want their son or daughter to be a doctor or an optician, and explain the opportunities for promotion in policing, for example. I think the new PEQF entry routes, meaning that police officers degrees prior to joining, or working to achieve one during their probationary period being funded by our organisation, will break down that barrier.”
Taz says more young people from Black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds now mention being part of a bigger social change as a motivation to join policing.
“I think this is so important. They want to be the change in society, to help it happen. Those candidates are incredibly important to the organisation as it promotes not only diversity in society, but diversity of thought too.