Police Constable Michelle Wright began her career in academia, where she worked alongside the police in research-based roles. After recommending a career in policing to many of her students, she decided to join the service herself two years ago.
PC Wright has now been with Greater Manchester Police for 10 months. She says her experience so far has been everything she expected and more – enjoyable and rewarding, but challenging.
Even though I’m from an academic background, I found learning all the legislation quite overwhelming. So it was a lot more than I imagined it would be. But again, sort of getting into the studying side of it to prepare for the multiple-choice question and exams, it was interesting getting back into that, but I had the support there from the trainers.
Having spent a month working independently on response, she's been surprised by the number of call outs to people who are struggling with their mental health, and the high volume of paperwork.
I think the two things that have really struck me is, firstly, the amount of time that we spend dealing with people in mental health crisis. So we are often the first ones there to deal with individuals in all levels of distress I’ve seen in the last 14 weeks.
Secondly is the amount of administration work, reporting back in. So for example, if we have dealt with someone in mental health distress, the care plans, the one to eights that we have to put in. After, you know, we’ve dealt with an incident can take time looking at the history of the person and as well putting the case file together for the CPS as part of our response duties.
She believes that 'every day is a school day' and that you never stop learning in frontline policing.
When she first joined the force, she had the support of two tutor constables. The first introduced her to the role slowly, selecting jobs on the radio and talking things through before arriving on scene.
Her second tutor was on response, where they did a lot of blue light runs in the car.
It was my first introduction to response policing and that was so fast paced. So that meant it was more go out, deal with what we were faced with and then at the end of the shift review what we’d done and what we’d gone through.
Straight away going on response, I like that way of learning because it was just deal with it and then deal with the next thing and deal with the next thing. And I think that’s prepared me more for being independent now because we weren’t allocated jobs. As the jobs came in on the radio, we were just going straight out to them.
She explains this period with the two tutor constables was essential in preparing her for independent patrol.
I think that has, yeah, prepared me a lot more now for what I’m doing and the fast-paced nature and us not knowing what we’re going to be dealing with when we get there. Both really experienced cops, both tutored a number of different students. So I really benefited from both of their approaches.
With some experience under her belt, PC Wright believes it's essential to be resilient and know when to ask for help in order to be a good cop.
[Resilience] develops over time. But if you do know how to deal with things and difficult things, I think that is important in being a good cop.
Final one is knowing when to ask for help because there’s an expectation. We have to know a lot of things and deal with a lot of difficult things, and it’s being able to speak up and say, if you don’t know.
Her advice to anybody considering applying to join the police service is to go for it.
Do it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. I wouldn’t say I’d rewind the clock because, you know, I’ve developed a lot of experience and life skills in the 20 years of not being a cop. But for those thinking of doing it, don’t hold off. Do it now.
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Inside policing is the monthly podcast for everyone with an interest in policing, crime reduction and criminal justice.
Each episode brings together voices from across the service, sharing knowledge and insight on critical issues in policing. Over the coming months, we will be discussing insights into digital policing and much more.
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