Female police officer

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Jane White is responsible for policing a community. This is a residential area with an average crime rate. However, Jane's role involves far more than reacting to crimes as they occur.

How does your job differ from a beat officer?

My role involves building positive relationships with local people, getting to know them and understanding the issues that concern them. I spend a lot of time liaising with other organisations within the community and attending meetings, but I do try to go out on patrol as often as possible so that people can see me and feel reassured by my presence.

What sort of issues are at the top of your agenda?

These can vary. Youth disorder can be an issue, especially where young people have nothing to do in the evenings. We try to stop them from hanging around street corners by providing alternative activities. For instance, I have set up a youth group for the area so that local people can discuss problems and solutions together.

Do you have a typical day?

I regularly have to change shifts at short notice to attend meetings or provide support for colleagues. On an early shift which starts at 7am, I begin by checking the previous evening's events before completing any outstanding reports or letters. I then patrol the local schools between 8am and 9am, mainly to prevent traffic problems. In the afternoon I go out on patrol, either on foot, bike or car depending on the area I want to cover, and I finish at 4pm.

What equipment do you use?

I use a computer quite a lot to look at information and statistics of police activity. It enables me to get an overall picture of what is happening in my area. On patrol I carry my utility belt, which has various items of equipment on it - a truncheon - either long for foot/car patrol or extendable for bike patrol - a radio, CS spray, basic first aid pouch, a torch at night, a pouch for paperwork and handcuffs. I also wear a stab-proof vest during evening shifts or when attending a moderate risk job.

What does the training consist of?

After several weeks at a police training centre, the probationary period lasts for two years. During this time you receive ongoing training in law, self defence and fitness. The training is most intense. It is only after this thorough training that you can then go unaccompanied.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I like being part of a community and knowing that I have contributed in some way to resolving someone's worries or problems.

What kind of person would make a successful community police officer?

Someone who is a good communicator, approachable and open, when dealing with people. Being able to listen is often more important than being a good talker! Decision making is another important skill. I constantly have to make decisions that affect the lives of other people so I need to be calm, consistent and detached.

Jane's route

  • GCSEs.
  • Initial police training course.
  • Sergeant's examination.

Jane's tips

  • Take your time when considering this as a job. The work can be very distressing and exhausting and not everyone who joins can deal with this.
  • Do plenty of research into the force you are applying to join.

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Salary information

  • New recruits are paid 19,227, rising to over 22,000 once the two-year probationary period has been completed.
  • After five years a constable would be earning 24,852.
  • After 10 years, 28,914.
  • A sergeant earns 30,186 on appointment.
  • Metropolitan Police officers receive an extra allowance for working and living in the London area. Uniforms are provided.

Getting in

  • There are no formal educational requirements to become a police officer, although numeracy and literacy skills will be tested on the assessment day. Fitness is tested separately.
  • Forces are interested in honesty, respect for others and the ability to create solutions.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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