I became a police officer at the grand old age of 49. Some people were finishing their careers after serving 30 years, just as I was starting mine – it’s never too late to join.
I wanted to be a police office since I was a kid but when I tried to sign up at 16, I was told I wasn’t tall enough, as you used to have to be over 6ft. I then went down a different career path studying theatre management at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and worked in theatres and opera houses across the world. I loved my job, but everytime I passed a police officer I felt jealous, that it was something I’d never done. One day I thought to myself do I want to finish my life having never tried it. I started the recruitment process, fully expecting to be rejected because of my age, but soon my dream became a reality and I’ve never looked back.
I took a dramatic pay cut but the rewards of the job are well worth it. I have now been in policing for five years and still look forward to coming into work every day. To be able to directly help people and change situations they are in make it all worthwhile. I have worked across many different aspects of policing from response to community, and the variation in the work is amazing. Often the day brings something new that you haven’t experienced before and the opportunities to swap roles and branch out into different aspects of policing are huge.
I have recently moved to the Hate Crime Unit which I really enjoy as we have a multitude of partner agencies we work with who can help us, as often the victims we’re dealing with are vulnerable or the hate crime is associated with wider anti-sociable behaviour. There are some people out there they do not see the benefits to policing hate crime, but seeing the impact of what some people might see as “name calling” on a victim can devastate their lives. I dealt with a case of a security guard from a local supermarket in Stopsley who ended up leaving his job, as he couldn’t handle the racist abuse he was experiencing on a daily basis for simply going about his job. My case load is so varied, for example I am working with a victim who has suffered homophobic abuse at school, to a £0.25m fraud after a carer exploited an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s.
I am often asked the question what type of person do you think it takes to be a police officer. I would say it takes people who have a huge capacity for understanding and listening, every day you need to understand some of the most complex situations and then you need to take actions that will affect people’s lives. You also need patience as a lot of the social problems we experience are intricate and take time to solve involving many different agencies.
I would also recommend joining Bedfordshire Police as it is a small family force, which really supports you. Everyone knows each other, you are not simply a collar number and people look out for you, nobody wants you to fail. The force has also been very understanding with some family issues I have experienced and have really supported me and been flexible in enabling me to carry on working.
Looking back I’m glad I didn’t get into policing when I was a youngster as I hadn’t grown enough physically, but I also don’t think I had grown enough as a person to be faced with the wide range of complex issues we have to deal with. Having life experience can really help the role in being able to face the challenges we come across on a daily basis.
PC Rupert Carlile
We’re currently recruiting police officers! If you think you fit the bill and can make a difference, apply by visiting bit.ly/2RWXoa4