So you’re looking to join the police as an officer because you want to fight criminals and punch crime on the nose, right?
Great! Is that what you’ll be doing all the time? No!
Designed to be read in conjunction with the following blog on the positive sides of being a bobby, this blog is designed to set out some of the drawbacks of doing the job so that new applicants have an accurate view of what the job really involves.
It’s in no way designed wanting to put people off, only to present the honest information that any potential applicant needs to know to ensure policing is the career for them.
In no order other than a rambling, whatever came to mind first type order, here are some of the less appealing sides of ‘The Job’ -
- Going home on time – A 15:00 finish time on the rota means that, right? Oh no! There will be times when you’ll find yourself come finishing time still at a custody block on the other side of the force area with a list of things to do longer than both of your arms put together. Your advertised finishing time is best seen as a ‘suggestion’ and you’ll join knowing that from time to time you’ll be sacrificing your evening plans.
- Flexibility – Leading on from the first point, you can be called into work at short notice and shift patterns changed with a snap of the Chief Constable’s fingers. This won’t be a regular thing but in response to extraordinary events (riots etc), you can very quickly find days off cancelled and hours extended.
- Danger – Something that lurks around every corner, the work of a police officer is inherently dangerous and we do sometimes get hurt as a result. You will at some point get attacked, car accidents are always a risk with response driving and in the course of saving life and limb, you’re going to face some very risky situations.
- Abuse – There are plenty of people who will hate you for no reason other than the uniform. Shoplifters will abuse and spit at you. You’ll be taught new swearwords by prisoners in the cells. It isn’t personal but it’s not nice either – a thick skin is a must.
- Crime in reality – You may think a police officer saves good people from the bad criminals. We do, also though we have to attend when Person A with seventy previous convictions calls to make a very suspect report that Person B with the same amount of convictions has wronged him in some way. Many of the calls you’ll attend will be very dubious in nature, you’ll not be told the full details by either side and often will find that when you delve a little deeper, there’s not a crime in the first place. This can be frustrating but it’s part of the job, for every ‘genuine’ call there’ll be several ‘I’m calling the police because I’m locked out of Facebook’ jobs to sort out.
- Stress – One minute you’ll be in a patrol car talking about doughnuts, the next you’ll be faced with twenty people brawling in a pub and it’ll be down to you to sort it out, all whilst the radio is chattering away in your ear and you’ve got twenty different accounts of what’s happened. You’ll be required to make decisions there and then and everyone will be looking to you to know what to do.
- Boredom – Think standing on a crime scene for ten hours is exciting? How’s about watching some sleep in the corner of a cell for an entire shift whilst on constant observations? It isn’t! Whilst there will be exciting moments, you’ll have some shifts where the clock moves very slowly indeed.
- Missing breaks – A busy night on a response shift might mean your meal will be a petrol station sandwich half eaten on the forecourt being being sent to the next job. Break times are set out but as with finishing times, they are ‘suggestions’. Overall the busy times are balanced out by other shifts during which nothing happens but even so, this won’t make any difference to you on the shift that you don’t get a moment’s rest.
- Dealing with the injured and the dead – If you don’t feel comfortable with the sight of blood, policing may not be right for you as there can be a lot of it. I’ve seen people with stab wounds down to the bone, I’ve had to help funeral staff lift a cold body onto their trolley and I’ve seen crime scenes that give the Saw films a run for their money. Crime isn’t pretty and you’ll be faced with this reality up close.
- Taking the job home - Again leading on from the above, you’ll see some things that will stay with you beyond your tour of duty. They’ll come home with you and whilst there’s plenty of good support available, you may find some experiences looking to set up camp in your head.
- Workload – Policing can be a busy occupation, the workload can be high and it’ll be down to you to manage your time effectively and ensure that the four court files you have are submitted on time as well responding to jobs on the radio and making everyone a lovely cup of tea.
- Frustration – Things won’t always go to plan, sometimes you’ll meet people who you know full well are guilty but have to let them walk free without charge. There’ll be nothing you can do about it and you’ll have to grin and bare it as you let someone out the cells as they cheerfully boast and tell you that they’ll ‘see you soon’.
So those are some of the drawbacks to consider but don’t despair, there are good points too which I’ll write about tomorrow!
I’d also add that even the above considered, I’d still recommend the job without any hesitation at all.
It’s not for everyone and the above give an idea of why it’s a ‘job like no other’, this is not to say that it’s not an excellent job as I think most officers would agree that it very much is and a privilege to do.