Louise is currently an operational police officer working in a rural area for a Scottish police force. She has a BA in Stage Management and a diploma in community education.
I joined the police force in 2009 having first undertaken a BA in Stage Management and Production. After a decade of working in theatres around northern England and Scotland, I gained a postgraduate diploma in community education in 2004.
The main emphasis of my work in theatres, whether with large touring companies or small drama groups, was collaborating with people. This was developed further by working for community education where I dealt with everyone from babies and toddlers to pensioners, as well as those with health or addiction problems and young people.
This led to a parallel role within a local police force as a community engagement coordinator and after I saw the reality of the work being done by the police, I decided to join the same force as a constable.
The emphasis of all my previous work experience was direct engagement with members of the public and that stood me in good stead for both the application process and all of my subsequent work as a constable.
The community emphasis was very much in accord with the demands of the police force and I would certainly advise anyone considering joining to get work experience that allows them to interact with different sectors of the community - it is good preparation!
The force makes it clear on their website what is required but my day-to-day work is in a rural area where the focus is very much on community-based policing - knowing the people and the area.
Whether I am dealing with road traffic collisions, domestic violence cases or theft I am constantly being asked to listen and communicate effectively, find solutions to problems, demonstrate high levels of accuracy in statement taking and conduct myself in a calm and patient manner regardless of the situation. Anyone joining the police would have to do the same.
There are some downsides to the job. The shifts can be challenging and I have no control over whether I will finish a shift on time, which can be detrimental to my social life. The hours can be long and days off are occasionally rescheduled for court cases or public gatherings such as football matches. I have to be responsible in choosing my friends and never acting in a way - on or off duty - that would bring the police into disrepute.
There is a lot of paperwork but, on the other hand, I get to enjoy endless interaction with members of the public. I know that I am directly helping those I meet to experience a better quality of life. If you like people, can cope with the shifts and the demands of a uniformed organisation and enjoy making a positive difference, it's a great career.
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