Way before I was born, in the early thirties, my great granddad moved to Bristol from Punjab in India and his family joined him a year or so later. My mum was born in Bristol and started her own family, having me, my brother and sister here in Kingswood. I’ve lived here all of my life and although I’m Indian, I’ve never actually been to India.
I’m now 31 years old and have been with the Avon and Somerset Constabulary since August 2006. I joined as a PCSO and became a PC in March 2012. I got into policing to make a difference – I know that sounds very cliché but there is nothing better that responding to an incident with your blue lights on, seeing the relief of victims and getting a good result for them.
Unless you’ve been a victim of hate crime, you can’t understand what that person is going through. Put simply, I’d rather be punched than racially abused.
The first time it happened I had only been in the job for a couple of months and I didn’t quite know what to think, or what to do. I asked the owner of a car to move it off the pavement he was obstructing and he proceeded to racially abuse me. I had been in the job only for a couple of months and was shocked, it was my last shift before going off on annual leave and it left me feeling uneasy and irritated.
Another incident that stands out for me is when I attended a call at the very start of my shift, a young girl was arrested for criminal damage and I asked her to walk to the car with me. She proceeded to begin hurling racist and aggravating slang at me. Cuffs were placed on her and she was taken to the car, where she continued to abuse me. It was really tough to handle the situation, I was so angry – how dare a 14 year old abuse anyone like that. What could I do other than arrest her and take her to custody? I can’t retaliate, I’m a police officer – I have to show restraint.
I ended up having to stay with the girl in the holding cell and then book her in to custody. Everything she did added to my aggravation, just tapping her foot was driving me up the wall, but I had to stay calm. I am so glad that my colleague came to take over because I don’t know how much longer I could have stayed cool.
When I got back to the station, my inspector checked to see if I was ok. I was ok – the comments made to me were hurtful, but I was more disappointed in myself. I was frustrated at myself for allowing a little girl to get to me like she had done. In hindsight, my thought process was irrational – I was angry at myself because I had let what she had said to me affect me and because it affected me, I got more angry with myself. It was a vicious cycle and I felt a tear – which made me even more angry at myself and then just burst out crying for 5 minutes or so.
Don’t let hate crime go unreported, it is not acceptable and it definitely shouldn’t be considered a part of the job – in any industry. Keep positive, there are others that have been in situations like you – don’t be afraid to speak to them. For colleagues of victims, there is nothing more reassuring than a pat on the shoulder and asking if they are ok.
Lighthouse Victim Care - Lighthouse works with victims of crime to provide an enhanced service and tailored support. Every victim of Hate Crime, including officers are applicable for enhanced victim support through Lighthouse. Referrals must be made by Avon and Somerset Police.