Coming into the job, one of my reservations was the lack of ethnic minority representation in the police. I was quite scared before joining and I remember I had reached out to my Leadership Development Officer [an assigned officer who offers support and development opportunities for Police Now participants]. I was scared that I was going to face racism inside the police, that I wasn’t going to be accepted. He was really great. It was the start of our professional relationship, he was very supportive, very encouraging.
He gave me a realistic picture of what it was going to be like. You know, obviously there are going to be issues, but it depends on how you engage with it. One thing he said to me was ‘not everyone needs to always like you.’ There are always going to be some people who are not going to like you and you can’t change that, but in the end the thing that matters is what you do, the work you do. People will receive that positively. I’ve definitely seen that in the year I’ve been in Surrey police.
I have faced situations where I have been uncomfortable, but I’ve also been able to have discussions and challenge people. As a result, I’ve had people come up to me and say to me ‘oh I didn’t think about it like that. You telling me that perspective has actually changed my view’. It is challenging, but at the end of the day, because of that, and because of wanting to do something, I’ve gained a lot of opportunities. I’ve been allowed into places and platforms where I can actually make a difference.
I’ve been involved with the Surrey Police Association for Cultural Ethnicity, which is our ethnic minority staff network. I’ve become the General Secretary, following work I did relating to BLM. This is basically a community to provide a sense of belonging or a sounding board to any ethnic minority staff who might be facing difficulties at work, who might be wanting advice regarding promotions, who might be wanting support with disciplinary actions, or any everyday experiences they might have.
Yes it’s hard, and it’s challenging, but I was interested in working through all of that to get here. Here I am, a year into the job, and I still look at myself in uniform in the police car and I think ‘is that really true?’ But yeah, here I am! In addition to the policing role, I’m building my own knowledge, experience and skills over these two years. I can already say that I am much more confident and more relaxed in different situations, I can get on in a variety of situations and I work more effectively.”