PC Esther Carroll joined Bedfordshire Police in 2002 and has committed her policing career to protecting vulnerable victims of domestic abuse, honour based violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation. She has received two Chief Constable’s Commendations for her Forced Marriage investigations and a ‘True Honour’ award by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Right Organisation.
Esther is retiring this month and she took some time to reflect on her incredible career and contribution to the force.
Before I joined the police I tried a number of career paths, Although they weren’t what I was looking for in my life, the experience definitely helped me with being the best police officer I can be. Continue reading
I was working in the domestic violence unit in 2007 when we started to see more and more reports of what is now known as honour based abuse. It’s a very difficult area to police, as a lot of the reports were just that, reports, with victims not wanting their families to be prosecuted. We set up an honour based abuse unit, following advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with the Luton All Women’s Centre playing an instrumental part. Honour based abuse can take any form; physical or emotional abuse, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, rape and in extreme cases, murder.
When I meet victims for the first time, I take their DNA and fingerprints; just in case the worst does happen. We take them somewhere to keep them safe, often a hotel, until refuge is found, sometimes for several days. Victims need a friend; when they are first taken away from their families, friends, school, college, university, work, this is when they are at their most vulnerable. They are often isolated, lonely and frightened.
I’ve always thought policing is not just about fighting crime and disorder, it is also about offering friendship; reaching out just that little bit further and having empathy, so that victims feel able to open up. I give them my phone number to and speak to them whatever time of day it is. I hope that by being accessible and by being their first point of call that can help keep them away from danger.
Sometimes I get a call or text or email out of the blue, saying ‘thank you’ or ‘you saved my life’. I know then that the victim has become a survivor and this is why l do the job that l do.
Police Officer Esther Carroll has been protecting women from forced marriage since 2007 and was given the ‘True Honour’ award by the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) for her work with victims in March.
Front line officers are our eyes and ears on the ground. They can recognise signs of honour based abuse and forced marriage when they attend jobs and then refer them to our team – a small division in the domestic abuse safeguarding and investigation unit at Bedfordshire Police.
I receive an email from an officer telling me she had been to see a young girl who had found out she was pregnant.
Like many young girls finding out they are pregnant, she was scared. But she was scared for reasons most girls could never imagine.