A policeman’s lot is a happy one

NAME: Brian Geraghty AGE: 26 PERSONAL: Brian had always been quite athletic, enjoying daily runs and a weekly game of five-a-side football, so didn t fancy the idea of a job based in an office. As a student of maths and philosophy, his favourite parts of

NAME: Brian Geraghty

AGE: 26

PERSONAL: Brian had always been quite athletic, enjoying daily runs and a weekly game of five-a-side football, so didn't fancy the idea of a job based in an office. As a student of maths and philosophy, his favourite parts of the course involved problem-solving, looking at different situations and considering different ways of tackling them - another element he hoped to carry into his professional life.

Brian picked up an application form for his local police force when he was at a careers fair and after completing a battery of physical and mental tests he was accepted to begin training. In the classroom, he found he had an aptitude for diffusing tricky situations, something that stood him in good stead while training in the field.


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After completing his initial probationary period of two years, Brian began work as a beat officer dealing with day-to-day crime prevention in his area. He recently completed a three-month attachment to his area's CID, learning more about the intricacies of detective work.

JOB DESCRIPTION

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Police officers are responsible for ensuring that the law is upheld across the UK. A regular officer's responsibilities will include patrolling their local area and responding to daily incidents, arresting, interviewing and charging suspects, attending court and giving evidence, producing reports and taking statements, developing relationships with other public bodies in the community (such as schools and the fire service) and maintaining the peace at public events.

A number of specialist roles exist within the force, including CID or detective work, dog handling, firearm, and drug investigation teams, the Fraud Squad, and mounted or air divisions. These roles are extremely sought-after within the force, and many require extra qualifications such as higher levels of fitness.

SKILLS & PERSONALITY

Police officers are usually organised into teams, within stations, in the field and by region. Being able to work well with others and build up good relationships with colleagues is a vital part of the role. This includes being willing to adhere to the stringent discipline the police force demands - if you can't knuckle down when a superior asks you to, it's unlikely you'll fit in.

Although officers will often be working in tight-knit units, they will also come across situations they'll need to be able to handle alone. A degree of initiative and the ability to make quick decisions are important when working in the field.

Communication skills are important - knowing how to talk and listen to an infinite variety of members of the public, being able to see both sides of a situation, and the ability to find the right words in high-pressure or delicate situations.

Apart from having to work closely with strangers on a daily basis, the tougher scenarios involved in police work - from road accidents to informing relatives of deaths - need a strong stomach and a degree of emotional resilience.

And despite all those hard-drinking, chain-smoking detectives that are so beloved of TV shows, police officers are required to meet a high level of physical fitness before they can even be accepted for training.

TRAINING & ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

It's not necessary to hold any formal qualifications if you want to become a police officer, but there are a wider range of opportunities open to graduates at entry level.

All candidates, regardless of qualifications, are required to pass tests in English, numeracy and physical fitness (the stumbling block for most of the 30,000 unsuccessful applicants rejected each year) before they can be accepted for a 15-week period of classroom training. This involves study of law and police powers, as well as fitness training and practical exercises.

Probationers are assigned a tutor officer for around 10 weeks of training in the field, before beginning their work on a shift as 'independents'. All probationers keep a log of competencies (situations they encounter in everyday work) and have their progress regularly assessed by senior officers.

Graduates can apply for the High Potential Development Scheme (HPDS), which allows candidates with particular aptitude to undergo leadership training meant to groom them for senior positions in the service.

EARNINGS & PROSPECTS

Officers sit exams to allow them to be promoted to the rank of sergeant, inspector and chief inspector, which involve paper and practical elements. Training in various specialist skills is available for all officers, allowing them to maintain their development throughout their careers.

The average salary for a probationer is about £20,000. After passing the sergeant's exams, money goes up to around £30,000, while inspectors make an annual salary in the region of £40,000. Competency-related thresholds mean officers with wider experience will earn more money than their counterparts.

MAIN MOAN

"Unpredictable hours, including night shifts, mean it's difficult to maintain a normal life and have friends outside the force - they often find it difficult to understand the pressures we face."

MAIN SATISFACTION

"No two days are ever the same - there's always something different going on. And the sense of camaraderie you get from working so closely with people you trust makes going into the 'office' a pleasure."

MORE INFORMATION

Police Recruitment site: http://www.policecouldyou.co.uk

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