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Industry Spotlight

Jobulo looks at how workers progress in particular industries and how someone looking to excel in a certain profession can gain the advantage.

Industry Spotlight: Working for the Police

6075928_mThere are a variety of roles available within the police. Many people start out as a Patrol Constable working in their local area and some go on to more specialised roles. From working as a Police Officer to working as a Crime Analyst – there are a number of job opportunities. So what is it like working for the police? And what career progression is available?

In this latest interview Jobulo speaks to a Firearms Officer based in the UK to find out more about the job and to gain some career tips for those wanting to work for the police force.

Tell Us About Your Career Background

I have always had quite a sports based background. I studied sports science at college and I used to work as a Coach and Instructor on an artificial ski slope. In the day I instructed on the slopes and in the evening I worked behind the bar. Although I really enjoyed the job I knew I couldn’t make it a career so I left to go travelling and really began to think about what I wanted to do long-term. I had always been interested in the police and knew there were a lot of opportunities. I applied to work for the police over ten years ago and started out as a bobby on the beat.

What Made You Want to Become a Police Officer?

I have always enjoyed variety in a job because I get bored quite easily. When I was doing research I realised that there was no other organisation that could offer as much variety as the police force. You can start out as a bobby on the beat, you can work as a detective on murder cases, you can be a part of a surveillance team or you can take on an office-based position. I love that I have worked within the organisation for ten years now and everyday is different.

What Can Someone Expect If They Apply to Work for the Police?

It depends on the job role you are applying for. I started off on a probation period where I learned the ropes and then I was sent away to a national training centre (although they do this in house now). I underwent training before working in a town centre. I worked on the beat as a Patrol Constable for about four years and gained some qualifications alongside the job. After working in a local town centre where I dealt with shoplifters in the day and drunk civilians at night, I wanted to specialise so applied for a firearms course to become an Authorised Firearms Officer. I went through extensive training and have now been working as a Firearms Officer for five and a half years. But there are a variety of roles available within the police – the opportunities are vast.

What Is a Typical Day at Work Like?

Obviously it depends what division you work in but for me every day is different! I deal with more severe incidents which can involve guns, explosives and knives. I cover the entire county and the job is very flexible as I work in lots of different locations. I work a 9.5 hour shift and the first half an hour is usually spent receiving information about cases and information I need for the day. I’ll then jump in a car and will be out patrolling all day. I would say 95% of the time I am outside, away from a desk but if you work as a local officer working in a specific town centre you usually have more desk time as you are responsible for interviewing people involved in local incidents. My day is never the same. I can be driving around the area and chasing work some days and then other days I can be rushed off my feet with call outs from the public and attending incidents.

What Are Your Main Responsibilities?

On average there are about three to four incidents a week that require a firearms unit response. The job involves working a shift pattern and the responsibilities include liaising with the inspector in charge of your unit to find out about new and ongoing cases, patrolling the county and responding to any requests or information from the public. Once you attend an incident you then hand the case over to the local police force for questioning and continue on to your next call out. Each day is very different – sometimes you can come into work and have very little stress and other days you could be called out to assist on a murder scene which can be very high pressured. At each incident you are responsible for talking to members of the public and talking to people involved with the incident to try and diffuse the situation. As a Firearms Officer you have to complete training courses every two months and there is a curriculum that you have to complete throughout the year. You are constantly assessed on your shooting skills and people skills.

What Qualifications Do You Need to Join the Police?

You need the basics of five GCSEs A-C in core subjects like maths and english. You can then apply to work for the police – a lot of training can be done on the job. It’s not all about the qualifications though. I think you need to show that you have life experience and that you are committed to your community so work experience is vital. A great way to find out more about the job is to volunteer your time to become a Special Constable. Although you are not paid for the position you can gain some great experience for your CV and it can also give you a great insight into the job. I think many people think working for the police can be glamorous but there are a lot of tasks that aren’t – like standing outside an incident scene for several hours in the rain. As a Special Constable you can gain this experience which can help you to figure out if it’s the right career path for you.

What Advice Would You Give to Someone Looking to Work for the Police?

There are recruitment drives two to three times a year. Speculative CVs and applications aren’t usually accepted so you need to wait to apply within the recruitment window. For every 20 job openings there could be up to 3,000 applications so it can be very competitive and you need to make your CV stand out. If you are waiting to apply the best thing you can do is gain life experience – whether that’s travelling, volunteering or working in a full time job. If you can put on your CV that you have coached a football team or show that you have interacted with your community then it can really help you stand out from the crowd. Showing that you have life knowledge and that you can interact with people is really important. You can keep an eye on the recruitment website during this time and look out for new vacancies.

What is the Best Part of the Job?

The camaraderie is fantastic. Everyone is very close and it’s such a good feeling to know that if you are in trouble or need assistance that you have a group of team mates that will do anything to help you.

What is the Hardest Part of the Job?

Shift patterns can be tough but the hardest part is dealing with horrific incidents. You can see some terrible things on the job and although you attend talks and training on how to handle situations, you never really know how you are going to handle it until you are in the situation.

What Three Personality Traits Does a Candidate Have to Have to Be a Police Officer?

You need determination because it’s competitive. You need to be compassionate because you could be put into situations where you don’t necessarily agree with someone’s point of view and you need to be able to adapt and understand things from a different perspective. You also have to have a good sense of humour.