Police Now academy: Paige Zima, The Metropolitan Police Service
National Graduate Leadership Programme 2022
Paige Zima launched her career as a neighbourhood police officer on Monday 12th September, as one of 148 new officers attested at Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme.
Paige was selected out of thousands of applicants and is joining the Metropolitan Police Service via the programme. Her grit and resilience recently led her to win Channel 4’s ‘SAS: Who Dares Wins’ and she is always motivated to challenge herself further.
Paige, a former ballet dancer and single mother, grew up on a council estate in County Durham and has decided to join the Metropolitan Police Service at a time where public confidence in policing is being challenged. She tells us how her past experiences have motivated her to build stronger relationships between the public and the police and become a positive role model in society. She is determined to use her new role to support the most vulnerable members of her community and solve some of the complex problems facing society.
The National Graduate Leadership Programme begins with a seven-week training academy before officers are deployed into their respective police forces across the country for the remainder of the two-year programme. Participants also work towards their Graduate Diploma in Professional Policing Practice, in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University.
“Last week, I was attested at Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme academy and officially began my initial training to become a neighbourhood police officer.
“I originally trained to be a dancer, studying contemporary dance and ballet, but after having my second child I had to make the difficult decision to leave that behind. I briefly considered becoming a midwife but instead I decided to go to Teeside University, where I graduated with a degree in Forensic Science earlier this year.
“My family were surprised when I told them I was moving to London to join The Met, but they have largely been supportive. I grew up on a council estate in a community that doesn’t view the police very favourably, so no one expected a member of our family to join the service. We didn’t have much money growing up and there were a lot of influences and life events that might have held me back, but I worked hard to build myself up and to always keep pushing forwards.
“In 2019, I lost my father to suicide. It was an awful time but it taught me a lot about myself. I discovered just how strong and resilient I can be. No matter the challenges that life throws at me, I am determined to meet them head on and to live life to the max. In May this year I trekked from my home in County Durham to Scotland and up Ben Nevis, to raise awareness of men’s mental health – a cause I am passionate about. I managed to raise just over £3,000 for Man Health and I plan to run a half marathon next year with Strong Men.
“I am constantly looking for ways to keep challenging and working on myself. It’s one of the reasons I decided to join The Met rather than remain in Newcastle– so I can keep placing myself out of my comfort zone and pushing myself to grow as a person.
“For these reasons, I decided to put myself forward for the incredibly tough Channel 4 show ‘SAS: Who Dares Wins.’ I was one of the 20 competitors on Season 7 this year. We had to make our way through a number of gruelling tasks, set by ex-special forces operators in the Jordanian desert – including being ‘buried alive’ during an interrogation task, a cliff free fall, crossing a desert ravine by rope and escaping a room full of CS gas. For me, one of the hardest tasks was running up a sand dune with a 35-pound backpack. I could see the other competitors overtaking me and it played on my mental strength. But I had a word with myself and through sheer mental determination, because I certainly wasn’t the strongest one physically, I went from last to first place, really surprising those around me! But that’s what it is a lot of the time – that inner drive. It was a wild, phenomenal experience, and I can’t believe I went on to win the show – it empowered me to feel strong and capable.
“I certainly feel like my resilience and my determination will come in useful during my Police Now training and beyond. It’s clear that policing is going to be a challenging career, but one that is very rewarding. This week, we have covered a number of topics like making an arrest, using police radios, Domestic Abuse, effective communication and diversity and inclusion. It’s been busy but I’ve managed to find time for the things I enjoy, like going to the gym and eating the foods that make me feel good! I have spoken to my children every night to share my experiences, which has made me feel so proud of what I am achieving on the course.
“I am hoping to be a positive role model not just to my kids, but in society. I want to use my new role to help build public confidence in policing, by delivering an excellent service to victims of crime and supporting those who need me the most. I can’t wait to embark upon the rest of the two-year programme, with a strong Police Now support network around me.”
“I have just completed my Officer Safety Training (OST) and Emergency Life Support (ELS) training, alongside the other Police Now officers who will be joining the Metropolitan Police Service with me.
“I am thoroughly enjoying Police Now’s academy and, even though it is very demanding, I have made some really good friends already on the programme.
“I found the Emergency Life Support training particularly impactful. I have been involved in life-threatening situations before and did not know how to react, and now feel I have the confidence and skills to help others and even save lives.
“I also enjoyed the Officer Safety Training and learning essential self-defence skills, such as handcuffing techniques and de-escalation methods. I’ve developed my listening and communication skills, which is key to defusing situations and ensuring both yourself and members of the public are protected and safe.
“I can really feel my performance improving week on week, as I gain more knowledge and understanding of the role. We have an assessment coming up, so I need to revise hard over the next few days. We’ll soon be heading out for our first ever field training shifts and I am excited about being on the frontline for the first time, alongside experienced tutors in force.”
“Over the past six weeks at Police Now’s academy, we have worked at a demanding pace, learning and developing our policing knowledge and the skills required of a police constable. It was great to transfer these skills from the academy into a real-world situation when I went on my first ever field training shift.
“I spent three days on the Metropolitan Police Service’s Response unit in Peckham, gaining experience of the policing frontline and interacting with members of the public for the first time since I began my training.
“I was excited to go on my first shift and respond to 999 calls, and I had the pleasure of working with experienced Met police colleagues who supported me through the shifts. I learned a lot just by observing their work and understanding their decision-making methods, but I wasn’t just shadowing; I was able to really get involved in the different jobs that we responded to and put my new skills to the test.
“I made my first ever arrest as a police constable, for disclosing sexual images with intent to cause distress. I also presented a suspect to custody, took witness statements, and supported a member of the public after a distressing incident involving an individual being threatened with a pair of scissors and held against their will.
“We also responded to a 999 call after reports that someone was suffering a mental health crisis and was in danger. When we arrived on the scene, I spent time talking to them and building a rapport before I was able to move them to a safe place and refer them to further help. Even after a couple of shifts, I have already contributed to saving someone’s life and making sure they felt heard and supported during a terrible time in their life. It’s reinforced what this is all about.
“My field training experience has made me realise just how much I have already developed since the start of academy. The scenarios we practiced during our training were true to form and proved extremely helpful when it came to a real situation. I was able to think and respond to the wide variety of complex and difficult situations presented to me on the shifts, which I certainly would not have been able to do before. I can’t believe how quickly the academy is going and that I’ll soon be finished with my initial training and permanently joining the Met, where I’ll work hard to be a positive role model and serve the public to the best of my ability.”
“I can’t quite believe it’s already been seven weeks since I was attested at Police Now’s academy and became one of the first police officers in the UK to pledge my allegiance to King Charles III. The final week of academy has gone by very quickly and, as I reflect on my experience over the last seven weeks, I am amazed at just how much I have already grown. I can only imagine that the next two-years on Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme are going to be equally as challenging as the academy, but also incredibly rewarding.
“As I officially land in the Metropolitan Police Service and begin my career as a neighbourhood police officer, I think about all the people I am going to help and the positive impact I am going to make in my community. It’s a bit daunting looking ahead to my future as we come out of academy, but also exciting. We need strong, positive role models in the police force; people who are not afraid to drive long-lasting change and embed themselves in communities as role models. It’s going to be hard work, but I have never been one to back down from a challenge.”