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JonD89

Realities of policing

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Hello,

I’m sure you get a million similar threads on here about people going through recruitment etc asking what it’s actually like “out there”. 

 

I stared recruitment a year and a half ago and have had several start dates changed due to “organisational needs”. Now I’m reaching the point of pre employment checks and I’ve having some hefty doubts. I trained as a special 9 years ago when I was 19 and left before passing out thinking it wasn’t right for me. I seem to have come full circle. I’ve always wanted to be in the police but I’m not sure if it’s a rose tinted glasses outlook or I’m getting cold feet.

 

Ive done some work helping training for new recruits with my force and they’re always abit anxious, unsure etc but always excited but since my assessment day (just over a year ago) I don’t have excitement, more uncertainty and fear. I’m not sure if that’s because I know a lot more than they do or because it’s not the right career for me.

I have several questions that I’d like experiences and opinions on from serving police officers. Firstly assaults on police. How often do these happen? Have you been assaulted? Have you been injured whilst carrying out your duties? Whether assaulted or wrestling about with someone? I know it’s potentially a dangerous job, But as far as I know, being stabbed or anything severe is rare but I’m hearing it’s common to be punched, kicked, spat at or head butted. Would you agree? I saw a stat from Leicestershire police stating 243 officers were assaulted last year. That comes to 5 a week on average. Are assaults the norm?

 

Secondly work/life balance. I’m a very family orientated person. I want a wife and children and after losing my mother 4 years ago, realise the importance of time with loved ones. Do you feel being a police officer has a negative impact on your family life? How much of an impact does it have?

 

Paperwork, people say there is a lot but what is actually a lot? Can someone quantify how much you will do on average shift. For example I was aware you have to write a report on each incident but wasn’t aware there was 10 pages to a use of force form which you need to write even if you handcuff someone compliant? I thought it would be one sheet like a stop search form. So what are the realities of the paper work?

Mental health, as with work life balance this is subjective to each person, but how much stress is there? I read of police leaving in droves due to stress from the amount of paperwork, the fear of doing something wrong and having the book thrown at you. Is extreme stress common place?

 

Probation period. I would love to know how much new recruits leave during this period, I feel it would give me a better indication if my concerns and thought are just me or I’m thinking ahead more of the recruits I see. Is new recruits leaving common? I aware it costs a lot to train a new officer, do the forces make it difficult for you to leave?

 

Do you have to be a certain person to adapt to the shifts? I’m aware some people can function fine on a few hours sleep and don’t mind shifts but I’m afraid I might be the latter. Speaking to an officer who said on the weekend on a night shift you work 7pm-7am (if you finish on time) then they’re back in at 3pm. How easy is it to adapt to that kind of pattern and do you have to be a certain kind of person?

 

One of the biggest concerns is moving. I’ve heard you can be told to move to another station in your county where you’d have to move because of the commute. How common is that? One officer told me he had to. How does this affect your family? 

 

I think that’s about it! I know no one can tell me whether to do the job or not and it seems very marmite but I’m hoping hearing more experiences with help with my decision.

Many thanks for your help and time.

 

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On 23/05/2018 at 16:13, JonD89 said:

Hello,

I’m sure you get a million similar threads on here about people going through recruitment etc asking what it’s actually like “out there”. 

 

I stared recruitment a year and a half ago and have had several start dates changed due to “organisational needs”. Now I’m reaching the point of pre employment checks and I’ve having some hefty doubts. I trained as a special 9 years ago when I was 19 and left before passing out thinking it wasn’t right for me. I seem to have come full circle. I’ve always wanted to be in the police but I’m not sure if it’s a rose tinted glasses outlook or I’m getting cold feet.

 

Ive done some work helping training for new recruits with my force and they’re always abit anxious, unsure etc but always excited but since my assessment day (just over a year ago) I don’t have excitement, more uncertainty and fear. I’m not sure if that’s because I know a lot more than they do or because it’s not the right career for me.

I have several questions that I’d like experiences and opinions on from serving police officers. Firstly assaults on police. How often do these happen? Have you been assaulted? Have you been injured whilst carrying out your duties? Whether assaulted or wrestling about with someone? I know it’s potentially a dangerous job, But as far as I know, being stabbed or anything severe is rare but I’m hearing it’s common to be punched, kicked, spat at or head butted. Would you agree? I saw a stat from Leicestershire police stating 243 officers were assaulted last year. That comes to 5 a week on average. Are assaults the norm?

 

Secondly work/life balance. I’m a very family orientated person. I want a wife and children and after losing my mother 4 years ago, realise the importance of time with loved ones. Do you feel being a police officer has a negative impact on your family life? How much of an impact does it have?

 

Paperwork, people say there is a lot but what is actually a lot? Can someone quantify how much you will do on average shift. For example I was aware you have to write a report on each incident but wasn’t aware there was 10 pages to a use of force form which you need to write even if you handcuff someone compliant? I thought it would be one sheet like a stop search form. So what are the realities of the paper work?

Mental health, as with work life balance this is subjective to each person, but how much stress is there? I read of police leaving in droves due to stress from the amount of paperwork, the fear of doing something wrong and having the book thrown at you. Is extreme stress common place?

 

Probation period. I would love to know how much new recruits leave during this period, I feel it would give me a better indication if my concerns and thought are just me or I’m thinking ahead more of the recruits I see. Is new recruits leaving common? I aware it costs a lot to train a new officer, do the forces make it difficult for you to leave?

 

Do you have to be a certain person to adapt to the shifts? I’m aware some people can function fine on a few hours sleep and don’t mind shifts but I’m afraid I might be the latter. Speaking to an officer who said on the weekend on a night shift you work 7pm-7am (if you finish on time) then they’re back in at 3pm. How easy is it to adapt to that kind of pattern and do you have to be a certain kind of person?

 

One of the biggest concerns is moving. I’ve heard you can be told to move to another station in your county where you’d have to move because of the commute. How common is that? One officer told me he had to. How does this affect your family? 

 

I think that’s about it! I know no one can tell me whether to do the job or not and it seems very marmite but I’m hoping hearing more experiences with help with my decision.

Many thanks for your help and time.

 

Woah lots of questions there!

To put things in perspective, I am coming to the end of my probation and therefore there is a lot of the job I haven't experienced yet!

Assaults do happen, it's hard to really know how often as there are so many departments, sections, BCU's etc. Quite often a colleague on another section could be assaulted and unless it's particularly serious I would never know. Personally I have had a few scrapes, including somebody trying to spit at me and generally lashing out but I have yet (fingers crossed) to be injured. I have however assisted colleagues who have been assaulted and one of them was quite serious, this was during my tutor phase. Assaults are certainly common though.

Single crewing is the norm on my section. Generally we will put out maybe two double crewed cars and everybody else is single crewed and this includes nights. I recently passed my standard response driving course so I am flying solo, so to speak, the vast majority of the time.

Work/life balance is always going to be a difficult issue, unless of course you are young and have no family commitments. I have a wife and child at home, my wife is also a serving Police Officer and that does cause some issues with regards to childcare. That is something we are currently trying to deal with but the job has been pretty good at being flexible when I have needed it, I have however used A LOT of my annual leave to cover it as well. The job does require you to work all sorts of hours, they will cancel rest days and you will be kept on duty when required. This can sometimes be an absolute pain in the arse and sometimes you will miss out on family engagements etc, especially when the wheels come off and something big happens. I have a reasonable balance at the moment but it's still taking some tweaking, it is better than it was 6 months ago though when the shifts changed and they were dreadful.

Paperwork is a huge issue, you will do it a lot and you need to do it properly to avoid landing yourself in trouble. How much depends entirely on the incident and if you have any help or not. An average arrest for me would involve my statement, witness/victim statements, creating a crime report, creating a file and then dealing with exhibits, CCTV and any use of force forms etc. This can take a good few hours at the very least and some jobs will tie you up for the rest of the shifts. It's not just arrests that require lots of paperwork either, sudden deaths will generally keep you busy for a good few hours with statements and general paperwork. It's part of the job and unfortunately that isn't going to change any time soon, you get used to it though and with experience you get quicker.

I started with a class of 19 officers. At this stage all 19 of us are being signed off our probation and everybody seems reasonably happy, we are getting courses now so we are starting to expand our skills. I am aware of a small minority of officers who didn't like it and left or returned to their old posts within the organisation and I know of 1 reg 13 dismissal. Generally speaking the majority of new officers I speak to are quite optimistic and enjoy the job, albeit in spite of some pretty big negatives.

Shift work depends on you as an individual, some people dread it and hate it with an unbridled passion. Personally I don't mind it and I actually enjoy the night shift. The nights do take their toll on you at times, especially if you don't finish on time but you do get used to it.

Postings depend on your force really. Larger forces may be more problematic for commuting times but from my experience they do take your location in to account. I was asked if I had any specific welfare issues that would need to be taken in to consideration for my final posting. I told them that I wanted a specific BCU for childcare reasons so I can work near to my wife and I was given the area I wanted. I do know others didn't get the areas they wanted but sometimes swaps are available with other officers. Ultimately though you sign up knowing that you could be posted anywhere and the job can disregard your circumstances if they choose to do so.

I know a lot of people are disillusioned with the job, I can see why as well. We are short on numbers and the workload is increasing. The lack of numbers ultimately means you will be kept on duty more often, particularly on lates in my experience, and you will find yourself being bounced around all shift without a break quite often. I love my job, but it's not for everyone and it is getting tougher and tougher with the current economic climate. 

If you aren't sure, there is nothing to stop you joining and giving it a go. It isn't difficult to leave if you don't like it, however the job do invest time and money in to you and there are lots of people who really want to get in. It's down to you if you still fancy it but the only way to truly know is to have a crack at it.

 

Best of luck

 

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Thanks very much for taking the time to reply and in such detail.

I assumed assaults were an issue and the frequency of them is certainly something that concerns me and has my family the most concerned I think. I guess it would just have to be something you live with the same as driving a car can result in injury.

Im young and I’m not married or have children at the moment but I’m incredibly close with my family. With the loss of my mother in 2014 I often regret not going on holidays etc with her as it’s time I feel I’ve lost. I’m worried I would feel the same in regards to my own family missing Christmas’, birthdays etc. Is it really a job that takes over your life and your family life takes a back seat?

If for example you made an arrest and have that paperwork to fill out, are you “desk bound” so to speak until it’s done or would you have to go out to other calls? I’m just thinking could you end up with a tray full of work if you have several jobs happening? I’m guessing it’s a case of time management. What shifts did you have that were dreadful? In my force for response and local it’s 6 on 4 off which sounds a lot worse than 4 on 4 off to me. Have you heard of any officers suffering with high stress levels from the job?

Im finding it very difficult to make a decision as I don’t want to cause someone else to lose an opportunity who really wants it and I’m signing up half hearted before I’ve started. It’s a huge decision to make and that’s why I’m trying hard to get as much information as I can.

I really appreciate your help.

 

 

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I've not been assaulted yet in 6 months on shift. Maybe been in 2-3 physically altercations which were more about restraining someone before they did something. Not been injured on shift at all. But a lot of it is luck and the sorts of calls you go to. I've had colleagues I started with get in scraps with people with knives, prisoners/detainees I've been on shift for, who have attacked someone on the next shift. 

 

You'll have to get used to the fact that you might not see a lot of your partner sometimes, depending on their shifts and yours. Plenty of my shift have kids and I think all of us are actually in relationships. 

 

There can be a lot. I've been to domestics where I was on scene 5 minutes or less. It takes longer to log on and type up the paperwork than it does to deal with it. It can take an hour or more to get someone booked into custody and put your arrest statement on and the crime, etc. There is definitely paperwork. 

It'll depend where you work, and how busy it is, but there can be stress. Part of the trick is not taking your work home with you, don't worry about it when you're home. You do that by maybe taking a little bit more time before leaving work even if you're off slightly late, as at least you know if anything happens, your arse is covered. 

 

I'm aware of a few probies leaving within the 2 years in my force, but it's not many to be honest. Will depend on force. 

 

Depends on the shifts your force work, but it can take some adapting to night shifts. It's more about getting a routine before work so that you can get some sleep in the afternoon before your night shift, or you go to bed later the previous day and get out of bed later, little things like that. Also getting your diet right can help. I find I do get tired but I get a second wind after a while. 

 

It can happen. You will work where you're told to work. I could be sent across to the other side of my county. As it happens I'm in one of the closer areas to my home. 

 

I would just say, I'm hugely enjoying the job right now, I feel I've made the right choice for me. Only you can know if you've made the right choice for you. 

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On 25/05/2018 at 17:22, JonD89 said:

Thanks very much for taking the time to reply and in such detail.

I assumed assaults were an issue and the frequency of them is certainly something that concerns me and has my family the most concerned I think. I guess it would just have to be something you live with the same as driving a car can result in injury.

Im young and I’m not married or have children at the moment but I’m incredibly close with my family. With the loss of my mother in 2014 I often regret not going on holidays etc with her as it’s time I feel I’ve lost. I’m worried I would feel the same in regards to my own family missing Christmas’, birthdays etc. Is it really a job that takes over your life and your family life takes a back seat?

If for example you made an arrest and have that paperwork to fill out, are you “desk bound” so to speak until it’s done or would you have to go out to other calls? I’m just thinking could you end up with a tray full of work if you have several jobs happening? I’m guessing it’s a case of time management. What shifts did you have that were dreadful? In my force for response and local it’s 6 on 4 off which sounds a lot worse than 4 on 4 off to me. Have you heard of any officers suffering with high stress levels from the job?

Im finding it very difficult to make a decision as I don’t want to cause someone else to lose an opportunity who really wants it and I’m signing up half hearted before I’ve started. It’s a huge decision to make and that’s why I’m trying hard to get as much information as I can.

I really appreciate your help.

 

 

The job is in some ways is what you make it. I say that in respect of how much of your life you let it consume, it is very easy to become completely taken over and the job controls your life. I think it's important to learn to put family first and remember the job is just that, a job.... how people deal with it is down to them really. That being said, sometimes you just have to get your head down and do what is needed and that may sometimes come at a sacrifice on your family life at times.

Generally speaking when I have made an arrest I am relatively safe from the radio, that being said sometimes it does get extremely busy and I have to consider what needs to be done immediately and what can wait. Sometimes I will have to turn out from my paperwork and head to another call but we help each other out when we can. From my experience if I am tied up with something but I offer to pick something else up, colleagues will realise this and take it off my hands as much as they can. Sometimes work does pile up, however I always have the ethos of I can do only so much! If work doesn't get done then so be it, I have only so many hours in the day and if I am busy then I am busy. Time management however is an important skill you develop over time and you learn to prioritise work to stay in control.

I am sure you can understand that there are some instances I rather not discuss for a variety of reasons. You will see and experience some pretty dreadful things at times and sometimes the last thing you want to do is re-live them later down the line, that being said you will pretty much always 'bebrief" afterwards, even if that's just with colleagues in the form of a bit if banter or a chat. 

One shift that does stand out though as being first on scene to a large explosion. I had just been signed off and I genuinely thought it was a bomb at the time. The place was decimated and I found myself searching for casualties in a badly damaged building, to say I was shitting myself is an understatement but hey what can you do. I was down to work 17:00 - 03:00 and I think it was nearly 09:00 when I finally packed my gear away for the night... safe to say that wasn't an easy shift!

Stress is a big issue in the Police, probably one of the leading issues but a lot of people won't speak out about it much. I think a lot of us do this because it is what we truly want to do and that helps to keep you going. Work loads can be very high and you sometimes feel like you are being asked to do something that you simply haven't got the time to do. Everybody deals with this differently and some people will eventually crack, while others seem to be able to deal with it but it's still a huge issue. I have known officers succumb to stress related issues through work, but everybody is different and they have different circumstances. You do need to be mentally resilient to begin with and able to handle stress well. 

It all sounds doom and gloom I know but for me the positives outweigh negatives of the job. I think if you can learn to deal and accept the negatives of the role then you can enjoy the many positives that still exist!

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