Having joined Essex Police as a PC at the age of 26, I am now nearing the end of my two-year probation. I’m currently training to get my Detective qualification whilst working in CID, having just passed my National Investigators’ Exam. I was previously on a Local Policing Team for a year and I loved every minute - responding to emergencies really does make you feel ‘alive’ - however the Detective Chief Inspector at the time sat me down and really opened my eyes to other possibilities within the force and so I grabbed at the chance of jumping ship earlier than usual to challenge myself and increase my skillset. I’m a big believer in ‘going with the flow’ and creating your own career path which is paying off so far – I have learnt an incredible amount over the past few months and I am very humbled and grateful to have also just been awarded ‘Student Officer of the Year’ in the 2020 Essex Police Awards.
Before joining the force, I worked in a number of roles bringing together leaders in governments, charities and businesses to campaign nationally and globally around particular issues. I loved every single minute, travelled the world and met some incredible contacts who I will treasure forever. I was lucky enough to then take a year ‘off’ to create my own campaign about an issue close to my heart, which is mental health awareness. I paid particular attention to the obvious issue of disparity between male and female suicide rates (men consistently account for around 75% of all suicides) and highlighted the cultural reasons that contribute to this – notably how deadly words can be, focussing on two in particular: man up. I got to speak at events all over the country on the topic and the campaign was later shown on billboards across London. It was such an incredible feeling to walk down the street and see my work displayed to thousands of people!
In my time off, I am really into my fitness, writing and finding a good gripping new series to binge watch!
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I love the variety. You’re really relied upon on CID and get to make such a contribution to the team. One day can be spent preparing for an upcoming trial, but then the next day you could walk into a live kidnap or firearms incident which requires you to hit the ground running. Every single day is an opportunity to learn something new about policing.
Why is diversity and inclusion so important in and outside of the workplace?
Ultimately, the future of policing relies on our legitimacy with those we serve and, if we fail to truly represent diversity, it’s a very slippery slope to losing the trust that has taken decades to build. It is our absolute duty as police officers to actively promote diversity and inclusion, not just silently deal with cases of inequality.
How do you think Essex Police values difference?
In my opinion, the fact we’re even having a conversation about difference just goes to show how important the topic is to Essex Police. We’re all different and that should be embraced and celebrated, but if we hide our differences then there’s little point in having any!
I have seen first-hand how difference is celebrated both internally and externally, through our recruitment. On one hand we have a zero-tolerance approach to any form of discrimination and, on the other, we have countless initiatives designed to increase diversity, such as the recruitment buddy scheme to support applicants from an ethnic minority. I am proud to mentor these new recruits through their application via the scheme as it shows our future workforce that Essex Police will provide a safe and supportive environment for them before they’ve even joined us!
Tell us something interesting about your role?
There are so many opportunities at Essex Police, no matter what role you’re in, to help shape the future of policing. So far in my limited service, I have taken part in the ‘Reverse Mentoring’ scheme and mentored a senior officer - rather than them mentoring me, which makes for an interesting dynamic! I am also a ‘Prevent Champion’ which means I receive extra training on the Prevent strand of the National Counter-Terrorism Strategy with the aim of doing all we can to prevent vulnerable people becoming radicalised.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about joining Essex Police?
I tick off a few of the protected characteristics so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t apprehensive when I clicked ‘Submit’ on my application – whilst I never doubted I had what it takes to be a good police officer, I did worry whether the force would see that in me. Having gone through that, my advice to anybody thinking about joining would be to just go for it! Believe in the benefits your difference can bring, because Essex Police will celebrate you exactly as you are.
One area of difference I would like to reassure new recruits on is that of mental health. Whereas our genetics may be the foundation to our differences, our life experiences make up the core. Don’t think that because you have or have had a mental health condition that you won’t be able to do the job – your difference will make you a fantastic police officer and I will always advocate that surviving a mental health illness produces more resilience, not less.
Back in 2016 I was diagnosed with severe OCD and, looking back, it affected so much of my life; I even left medical school and gave up on my teenage dream of being an A&E doctor because my mind was just unbearable. Fast forward to today, having undergone years of therapy, I feel like I can conquer anything and it has made me incredibly emotionally aware of myself and others. My advice to anybody in a similar position would be to believe in yourself, ‘own’ your experiences and speak up for the many unique advantages they’ve provided you.