I started in the Control Room in July 2018. Previously I worked in the City as a Financial Consultant, and I decided one day that I didn’t want to do that anymore (too many exams!). I had friends and family say to me “you would be really good at answering 999 calls” and with that, I applied to be a Communications Officer and started my career here. Although the change was scary and the change in culture took some time to adjust to; it was one of the best decisions I made.
I started as a call handler, which I really enjoyed. Speaking to members of the public on both 999 and 101 calls, helping them and genuinely providing support to victims and vulnerable people. I quickly progressed to being a dispatcher, which is when you send police officers to the jobs, and I can honestly say being a dispatcher is a skill I never thought I would acquire. It’s fast paced, its pressured and its demanding, but the satisfaction of deploying to immediate calls or obtaining updates to say that the offender has been arrested, finding out the stolen vehicle has been found or that we have saved someone’s life is so rewarding and the sense of achievement is genuinely unparalleled.
Within the last two years, I have become a team leader. I currently have line management responsibility for 12 call handlers and dispatchers and two police officers. I love developing my team, utilising their skills, and ensuring they are performing to an excellent standard in line with the Kent Police values and behaviours. This is not without its challenges, the control room is an amazing place filled with amazing people, but the public don’t ring us when they are having a good day. A huge part of my role is ensuring the welfare of my team and other staff on the floor. We have lots of support in place and we are all trained to a high standard to deal with crisis and emergencies. Looking after the mental health of our staff is a top priority. Balancing being resilient, empathetic yet professional and being firm, but fair, are all skills that are needed to perform this role.
The training you receive is brilliant, it’s in a classroom to start with which I enjoyed and am still friends with some of the people I started with. You then transition onto the floor and take live phone calls and then are released into a team when you are assessed as being “ready”, although that first phone call will always be scary! Kent Police have a friendly and professional learning and development team and once you join a team, you are surrounded by people that do the job and understand what it is like.
Some things I have learnt during my career so far – I didn’t know I could type as fast as I can, I can retain information and ask questions, I speak a whole new language of “police speak” which my family find amusing when I am telling them to “standby” instead of “bear with me a minute”. I can multitask well, and I utilise my negotiation and communication skills constantly. Since being in this role, I can listen to the circumstances of an incident and effectively risk assess it, I can identify if a crime has taken place and establish if another agency would be better placed to help such as the ambulance service. I came into this role without any knowledge of the police, limited knowledge of the law and I learn something new almost every day, even now.
My advice for someone considering applying for this job would be to remember that this is not a standard 9-to-5 office job. It is busy, it is exciting, it is sad, we deal with lots of mental health related calls, we must manage expectations and be robust with people. However, it is also one of the best places to work and you will genuinely help people. It sounds cliche, but we are a big family of people who want to help other people and that is something special to be part of. If you want to work somewhere where no day is the same, you are happy to work shifts, be flexible, adapt to change and want to do something that matters, then this might be the right career choice for you.
I am proud to work for Kent Police, I am proud of what I have achieved in my career so far and I am passionate about the work we do.