Pola, Police Constable
When Pola decided that she wanted to join the police, there were several fears holding her back. Would being a woman of Polish nationality prove a disadvantage? Would she be a target for remarks about her accent? And how would she fit in with colleagues and the wider police organisation?
Following a career in customer services and while studying Aviation Management, Pola decided to volunteer with Avon and Somerset Police. She found herself enjoying helping at police HQ with Community Speedwatch and supporting the organisation’s mounted section with everything from mucking out stables to getting the police horses ready for patrol.
Her childhood dream was to become a mounted police officer, but she didn’t initially have the confidence to apply to be an officer. She didn’t think she would be accepted being from another country.
Pola’s volunteering roles inspired her to begin her police career. Her colleagues assured her that speaking multiple languages would be valued and encouraged her to apply to become a PC.
From volunteer to PC
Seven years ago, Pola turned her volunteering into a vocation and joined Avon and Somerset Police as a police constable working within the response team, where she dealt with incidents including thefts, assaults, domestic incidents, road traffic collisions and much more. Pola then moved to the operational support unit, supporting with keeping public order at festivals and football matches, as well as searching for most wanted offenders and missing people. Pola recently started at the mounted section as a full-time mounted officer.
In addition to loving her work, Pola has found her initial fears were unfounded. “I was so worried before I joined that my accent and nationality would be seen negatively, but all I get is positive feedback and gratitude from various departments I assisted.” says Pola.
The feeling of fitting-in has also presented no barriers. “I enjoy great support from my colleagues and line managers. Everyone is very approachable. And I mean everyone, from every department, and of every rank. There is so much to learn about the role of a PC but there is always someone that you can ask for help or talk to, which is really important. You never stop learning. It is important to realise that you never know it all, as things change and there is a lot to learn as well.
“Having English as my second language works to my advantage rather than holding me back”
“I love that English being my second language is treated as a skill. I’ve used it to support various departments such as the Major Crime Investigation Unit, with different incidents, including murders and kidnappings. I’ve also used it to assist with vulnerable Polish-speaking victims or offenders who did not speak English, and to gather intelligence.”
Now Pola is keen to share her experiences to encourage other foreign nationals to consider police officer and staff roles at Avon and Somerset Police. She has joined our internal staff group REACH (Race Ethnicity And Cultural Heritage) and is happy to engage with new recruits as a part of this.
“I can reassure anyone that they will be made very welcome and their skills and experiences will be recognised.” Pola says.
“My main advice to anyone applying is to find out as much about the role as possible, as there will be some difficult situations you’ll find yourself in. If you think your nationality holds you back – you are wrong.
“Having lived and worked in several countries and for a range of companies, I can truly say that Avon and Somerset Police is the best organisation I have ever been part of. There is no sense of inequality or being an outsider. Being a PC is a very diverse role and we deal with many different incidents each day, no day is ever the same!”