I started in the Force Control Room (FCR) 17 years ago. Wow, where did that time go? Originally I was employed as a part-time, evening Communications Officer. This fitted in great with family commitments.
I had small children at the time and it meant I could be with them during the day and didn’t need to rely on others for childcare. The Force Control Room was in its infancy when I joined, still finding its feet in the policing world, as it had only been up and running for one year.
We only took non-emergency calls back then, but I can still remember my first day and how daunting it was, especially as the person I was paired with to learn the ropes, made me take calls on my own after only 45 minutes! Things have really changed since then – for the better thankfully!
About a year into my role, I was asked if I would trial taking 999 calls. Again I still remember my first one. It was a domestic that was ongoing. I was really scared about taking the call, but, not as scared as the person making it. So I realised I had to try and make the situation better for them. I could be scared, that was ok, but I had a job to do.
Shortly afterwards, the FCR became the all-singing, all-dancing hub that it is today, with staff dispatching and taking non-emergency, emergency and crime recording calls here.
I moved over to dispatch (which is where you send police resources to an incident) about three years into my career. It seemed the natural progression. I had to work a full shift pattern, but I did a job share where I worked one week on and one week off, again mainly for child care reasons.
It worked really well for me. Dispatch was so different from call taking. I had to become the “new girl” all over again, learning different skills, multi-tasking, becoming responsible for the officers on my watch. But wow, I loved it. It was fast-paced and there were days I didn’t know where the hours had gone.
But I got a huge buzz from it and left most days happy. The job wasn’t without its stresses, especially when you run out of officers to send to jobs and the jobs kept stacking up. Prioritising was at a premium here. But, the team around me and my supervision helped make sure that we got the job done.
After working in the control room for six years, I applied and was successful in obtaining a promotion to supervision. It was a big step for me. I had to get used to working full time, full shifts and managing a team. Making sure they felt supported, especially as I knew how important that support was. It was a huge learning curve for me.
I have now been in management for over 10 years. In addition to this, I take on the portfolio for recruitment. I do this because I have a passion in making sure we get the right people for this role, to see them nurtured and developed and see the potential blossom. It’s a great feeling.
It’s hard work, I manage a team of over 30 staff, dealing with incidents, making sure the right resources are deployed to the right incident, calls are dealt with correctly, staff have the right skill level to meet demand, deal with spontaneous incidents such as pursuits and assist the Force Incident Inspector with critical incidents.
All of this carries huge responsibility, and at times can be incredibly stressful, but, I still love it. I still feel proud to put on my uniform, go to work and feel like I’m making a difference. I feel proud to lead my team, not just in the FCR but the wider policing community.
I cry tears with them all when we deal with a horrific incident, I feel their pain when they are hurt, I share their burden when we complete a really busy shift.
The FCR and the police officers cannot do their job without one another.