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An honest account of my policing experiences

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Hi all,

Before I start, I'm not biased towards the police, in fact quite the opposite and I enjoyed my experience in many ways, but this career may not be what you expect. If you want to join then that's your choice and you're entitled to it. The job does have benefits, BUT I just feel that not everyone is getting a realistic view of what  Policing in the 21st century is like and it's important you know. If you do know these things you can make an informed decision about whether to join and at least join with a heads up.

I worked in inner-city frontline policing for 6 years and left in 2015.

Firstly, there are too few of you and too much crime. In the city I worked there were often only 8 active officers to cover an area the equivalent of a quarter of the city. Ridiculous really considering the volume of jobs daily.

It's really hard. Not just challenging or problematic but REALLY HARD to the point were you won't be able to cope with your workload and getting support from your line manager is a separate challenge on it's own. In my force each officer had around 13 to 15 jobs on their screen at any one time to investigate (I suspect it will be more now with the cuts) - and that doesn't include the jobs you will be picking up on a day to day basis. You have to get rid of jobs off your screen to stay afloat and it often means you aren't providing the best service to the public as you don't have the time to be thorough with your investigations. You may let  A LOT of people down and this wasn't why I joined and I struggled with this aspect of the job. It's very stressful and the workload played on my mind from the day I got my first set of jobs to the day I left. These jobs usually aren't simple thefts either but often more complex matters that required time. As a frontline officer getting bounced around from crime to crime it's not pleasant having your incredibly long job list playing in the back of your mind. When you clear a job off your screen a new one will appear in it's place almost immediately.

Say goodbye to your family and friends. Having a social life is hard. If you're single and a bit of a loner then you'll be fine but if you're social with a good family and friends network then you have to be prepared to have your rest days constantly cancelled, doing overtime practically every night, early morning warrants and being too exhausted to do anything when you are free. That's a fact.

The things you'll see will disturb you and you won't get any support. The police is still a pretty macho orientated environment. Not necessarily in physique but certainly in attitude. You see horrible, disgusting things and just have to get on with it. I witnessed horrible graphic murder scenes, months old rotting corpses, hit and run victims, teenage suicides etc. Did it disturb me? ... You better believe it did and some of it still haunts me now. I'm a human being after all not a machine. It's difficult to discuss this stuff with others for fear of being seen as a bit weak.

Also, the abuse you'll receive daily from the public can take it's toll on you. That, I have to admit, you should be expecting from day one, but be warned, It's not just simple swearing or gestures, instead think of the most vile things a human being could possibly say to another human being and times that by ten.

Accountability... you will need to study hard during and after training. You'll need to know your law inside out and upside down. You also have to be able to complete extensive documentation with accuracy and attention to detail. A mistake or wrong judgement may land you being investigated or land your organisation with a hefty compensation claim.

Lastly I'd say being organised. You will need to keep your notebook of daily activity up to date. This can be viewed in court so it's important it's completed and can greatly benefit you during a court appearance or professional investigation OR be used against you  he not completed properly. I struggled to keep mine up to date and I know others did too. You'll need an extensive diary of dates for interviews, witness statements, evidence requests, appointments, bail returns etc. It will be a book you'll have to complete religiously. Lastly, filing. You need to keep your paperwork tidy, organised and filed away.

On a positive note, I made some incredible friends in the police who I will know for life and I also helped a lot of vulnerable victims and people. I was good at my job and you will be too, but it's important you have a clear understanding of what you might expect. It's given me many stories to tell my children in the future and taught me many valuable lessons. I never encountered any racism, sexism or homophobia and can honestly say, in my experience, those things are generally a thing of the past



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Yep that sums up a lot of what we are currently faced with on a day to day basis.

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