I am 47 years old and 5ft 3’’. After 20 months in uniform I joined the Domestic Abuse and Hate Crime Unit. I went on to work on Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Child Abuse Investigation Team (CAIT), Adult Sexual Offences Investigation Team (ASAIT) and then Management Of Sex Offenders and Violent Offenders (MOSOVO). My most recent role is as a staff officer on the Crime & Public Protection Command. I have recently passed the sergeants exam and plan to sit the next board. Prior to joining the police, I was a Prison Officer and then a Forensic Psychologist in the Prison Service. I have a BA (hons) in English Literature and Psychology and an MSc in Applied Forensic Psychology.
For some background, I originally passed the sergeants exam in 2013. In the same year my husband was diagnosed with cancer and he passed away in February 2014. Our twin boys had just turned 4 years old. Due to the emotional and practical implications of the loss I did not proceed with the next stage and the exam expired.
Due to the fact that I am a widow with children (now age 10) and I work full time, I knew that I would not be able to find enough time at home to study sufficiently to pass the exam. T/D/Ch/Supt Elliott Judge (who was D/Supt) found out about the fact that I was considering leaving the command and, indeed, the police altogether, and he offered to mentor me through the promotion process. He also invited me to apply for the role of his staff officer with the offer of some study time to support what I was able to undertake at home.
Prior to losing my husband I was an avid hiker and have climbed lots of mountains, the highest being Kilimanjaro. I started this year to get my boys involved in hill walking so I hope to start this hobby up again with them in the near future.
Despite my loss I have continued to work hard to raise my boys and now to have started the journey back on to my career path.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoyed being involved in protracted and involved investigations when I worked on the PPIUs. Domestic abuse was always a topic I felt passionate about, as well as mental health, so being able to support the vulnerable and obtain help, support and justice for them was vital to me.
The staff officer role was a learning curve and put me out of my comfort zone. I have learned vast amounts regarding the strategic overview within policing and the demands on the senior management team. I have enjoyed liaising with the various partner agencies and completing reports.
I now wish to become a sergeant so that I can guide, support and develop a team so that other officers can offer the service to the vulnerable public that they need. Also, due to my own personal circumstances I feel that I can offer an understanding of the need for a strong work-life balance.
Why is diversity and inclusion so important in and outside of the workplace?
Everyone has different backgrounds and experiences and this can impact on how they are treated in the workplace. Negative treatment in work can affect someone’s ability to work and also their home life. Everyone’s contribution is valuable and someone should not be dismissed or ignored due to the fact that there is something different about them or their view. Also, life sometimes becomes difficult and circumstances can change for people but they should be supported by their workplace so that they continue to feel part of a team. I myself experienced some stigma upon returning to work as a flexible worker and this affected my self confidence for a number of years. It took one particular sergeant to help restore that (DS Karen Miller) and the belief and practical support of a senior member of the command team (T/D/Ch/Supt Elliott Judge) to enable me to now be in the practical and mental position that I am.
I myself am involved in a diversity and inclusion working group and there has been much discussion recently around female succession planning, which I have been eager to support.
How do you think Essex Police values difference?
I think that Essex Police has a very positive attitude to diversity. However, this becomes more subjective in the hands of the supervisors. I have had both negative and positive experiences due to my change in circumstances, but there is now more emphasis on agile working and flexible working which has reduced the stigma attached.
I am aware of the different associations within Essex Police and I am a member of the Women’s Learning and Development Forum. I am a friend of a senior officer who is undergoing gender reassignment and there is much support for this within the job now.
Tell us something interesting about your role?
Knowing that I can help children and other vulnerable people as a detective gives me both job and personal satisfaction. I know that I am also being a positive role model for my boys and this is integral to their development and ability to appreciate and respect the diversity within their own environments.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about joining Essex Police?
There is a place for everyone within Essex Police, whether that is frontline uniform, investigations, administrative duties, safeguarding roles or other integral roles and functions. There are promotion opportunities available but there is also no pressure on an individual who wants to remain a PC/DC for their whole career. I joined at 32 having followed other career paths and I believe this assisted me. I have also remained in this job with the support of the organisation despite my change in personal circumstances.
That place within Essex Police is also for anyone, irrespective of sexuality, race, religion, culture, age, gender or any other factor.