Fishwick & Callon – Preston
University of Strathclyde
Why did you want to join Police Now?
I’ve always been intrigued by investigation and problem solving, which is why I chose to do a degree in Forensic Biology. However, I wanted something much more hands-on than lab work and joining the police is something I’ve always wanted to do. The programme seemed like a great opportunity to put the skills I learned during my degree to good use and make a real difference to people’s lives.
Describe your first day.
It seems like such a blur now; everything was a bit overwhelming, particularly for me coming into a brand new area I’d never set foot in before. The first day was all about getting to know my area – going out there and introducing myself to people. I had a guided tour provided by my mentor and we tackled a few tasks. It’s nice looking back and realising how much I know about the area now.
What did your parents / friends think about you joining?
My parents both work in the NHS so they were proud that I was joining the ‘same team’ as them: the emergency services.
What do they think now?
My friends are definitely jealous of the amount of stories I come home with; there truly is no other job quite like this. The only downside is that it’s very difficult to not talk about policing all the time, which they enjoy pointing out to me.
What are your fellow officers like?
My team are absolutely brilliant and have been vital in helping me settle in and develop as a police officer. There isn’t a single member of my team I would hesitate in asking for advice and that always goes both ways. My supervision has also been important to me; all of the sergeants I’ve worked with have been amazing. My time team sergeant (works the same shifts as me) in particular, is always looking to help me out and provide opportunities which will help me improve. Without my team and the supervision I have, starting out would have been so much more difficult, so I’m incredibly grateful to them all. The camaraderie and jokes can get you through even the toughest of shifts; it’s a great atmosphere to work in.
What benefits do you get?
It may not be a benefit to everyone but I like working a shift pattern. It makes every week different from the last. Also, being in the police opens so many doors and career avenues – that’s the biggest benefit for me as I can’t see myself changing career anytime soon. There’s so much you can do beyond front line policing, which many people don’t realise.
What are you looking to positively impact over the next 100 days?
As much as I can! There’s so much to do in the areas we’ve been assigned and so much to get your teeth into. There are a lot of long-term issues like drug dealing and anti-social behaviour which are prominent almost everywhere. Tackling them is definitely something I aspire to do. However, a fellow officer told me within my first few weeks, that if you can change at least one person’s life dramatically for the better in your whole career, then you’ve done your job right. That’s something I think I’ll take with me.
What’s the biggest positive impact you’ve made in your neighbourhood so far?
Targeting one of the most prolific drug dealers in my area is something which has had the most impact on residents. Drug dealing is no secret problem in the neighbourhood I police and it’s a very hard task to tackle when it is often done so overtly. Taking a hands-on approach by gathering intelligence, conducting drug warrants and frustrating the drug dealing circles is something which residents notice. It boosts their confidence when they see the police addressing these issues.
What’s it like working with all the different people within your community?
It’s a brilliant feeling when you’ve taken time to build up relationships with different members of the community and they confide in you with information. It’s something that’s absolutely vital to the job.
Were you nervous when you first started? How do you feel now?
Yes. It’s a scary job and there’s so much that can go wrong. It seems like a lot to take in at first. I’m so much more confident now. It’s incredible how much more assured I am of my own ability and how to handle things. There will be a new challenge that will put you out of your comfort zone on almost every shift, but that’s the beauty of the job.
How have you coped with such a huge responsibility?
Every job has some level of responsibility, but the police do have a lot of pressure because of the level of scrutiny that surrounds our role. It’s just something you learn to get used to; you don’t notice it so much after a while. It is strange at first when members of the public look to you for guidance, because you’re the one wearing the uniform. I always just take a deep breath and throw myself into dealing with whatever the situation may be. It’s worked so far!
What’s the best thing you’ve done?
I think that arranging a Restorative Justice (RJ) conference at a Mosque, with four young girls as the offenders from a racist incident, is probably the best thing I’ve done. It was a really rewarding process for me as I felt like we achieved a much more rehabilitative outcome than just punishing the girls involved. The RJ benefitted both the victims and the offenders far more than prosecuting the girls ever would. The process aimed to educate the offenders to better understand what they had done, why it was so bad and prevent them from doing anything like it again. The most impactful part, is putting them in front of the victims and letting them tell the offenders how they’ve been affected by their actions.
What’s the hardest thing you’ve done?
One of the hardest things to deal with is not being able to do more for people who don’t want your help. There have been countless situations where people have refused things that I know will make things better for them, and there’s very little I can do. People refusing to go to hospital for treatment, refusing help with drugs or mental health and even refusing to provide a statement for fear of being labelled a ‘grass’. Some people just generally don’t want help but it’s hard to just walk away without doing anything – you just have to remember for all those people who don’t want your help, there are others who do.
What’s been your proudest moment?
I would say the attestation on day one of training: being able to say “I am officially a police officer”.
Tell us a bit about the training.
The Summer Academy is one of the best, but hardest things I’ve ever done. The amount you learn in such a short space of time is incredible. It seems like such a mammoth task at the start then suddenly you’ve made it to the last day! The upside is that everyone is in the same boat so you feel like you all go through it together. There’s only so much you can learn from books and sitting at a desk; you’ve just got to get out there and learn by doing – which is exactly what we do.
What have you learnt about yourself?
I’ve learned that I am a much more confident and assertive person than I thought I was. I go into auto-pilot when I’m dealing with a problem and always have my head switched-on – the confidence just happens!
What skills have you gained?
Organisation. It’s the only way to get everything done. You’re always so busy and it’s very easy to get sidetracked. I’m a really laid-back person normally, but I’ve definitely had to become very regimented about time management. I’ve also got pretty efficient at dismantling cannabis farms.
If someone was thinking about joining, what would you say to them?
Don’t think about it, just do it. It’s the best decision you could make.