Food for Thought: Is Policing Right for You?
"Most of the time you're dealing with people who don't like you.”
Before embarking on a career as a police officer, you must answer this fundamental question: "Is policing right for me?" The question is so fundamental, it's even asked of you by most forces in the application process. Researching the role of a police officer is a good opportunity for a reality check, because it’s certainly not for everyone. Depending on what you read or who you speak to, you could be encouraged by the excitement, variety and noble challenge of the job. Or you might change your mind fairly quickly!
As quoted above, an insight from the former Chair of the Police Federation of England & Wales was, "Most of the time you're dealing with people who don't like you." What are your thoughts about that?
Policing: The 24/7 Challenge
"The police are the public and the public are the police; the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence."
Sir Robert Peel
Nearly 200 years later, this quote from the founder of modern UK policing is still relevant. Today, it’s you who needs to make an informed decision on whether Policing is the right career move for you. You will see the glossy recruitment images and polished social media adverts, but do some meaningful detective work yourself to get a balanced view as part of your decision-making and approach.
Don't just research the role of a police officer, which can be challenging and rewarding in equal measure. Also learn about aspects of the job, like working shifts covering '24/7, 365' and encountering violence on a regular basis. If you do decide to apply, you will certainly be asked some pretty straightforward questions in your recruitment process. Here’s one:
“What preparation have you undertaken before making your application, to ensure that you know what to expect and that you are prepared for the role of a police officer?”
It’s worth spending some time on that one. It’s important because whilst most UK police forces have opened up recruitment windows there is a high level of scrutiny applied to those wishing to join, especially around motivation: Why you? Why now? Only you know this!
The Tough Side of Policing
"Let's be honest: How many of us would want a job that exposed us to random violence, expected us to wipe the vomit from a teenager’s face, to retrieve personal effects from a suicide’s pocket, or to break the news of a loved one’s death to his or her family?"
- Jeremy Paxman
Cops often describe 'the job' as the best vocation in the world and get enormous satisfaction from the difference they make to society. But let's not skirt over the tough aspects. In your deliberations, you might find helpful this Jeremy Paxman article from which the above quote is taken. This is just one of the considerable information resources out there to help you.
Could you do this? It describes some of the reality and aspects of policing that you may not see in recruitment adverts, but which await many carrying out operational police duties. Policing is about making a difference, being there for communities and individuals when they really need you. It’s about being a force for good in serving people. To find out more information, you can attend force recruitment events or briefings. You can also speak with officers in your local community to make sure that policing is a good career choice for you.
If it is, go for it! Opportunity is knocking...
Steve Cooper is a former Royal Marine, Detective Inspector, and is a qualified coach/mentor. With extensive police experience, Steve also established Rank Success to help officers achieve police promotion.