Last weekend was a little bit different for me; I spent Sunday afternoon in the Control Room at Avon and Somerset Constabulary HQ having a go at being a Police Dispatcher in their emergency control room!
Avon and Somerset Police are currently recruiting Police Dispatchers and think that many of the mums and dads who follow Bristol Mum might be ideal for the role!
As a parent you will be used to regularly multi-tasking, prioritising and staying calm under pressure… these are the exact qualities needed to be a Police Dispatcher in their emergency control room.
Even better, this role is all about your skills and the type of person you are – so you don’t need any special qualifications or experience. Full training is provided.
I spent the first part of my afternoon sitting with Elaine, a really friendly mum of an 11-year old daughter. Elaine has spent an impressive 23 years working as a Police Dispatcher and absolutely loves her job.
Elaine explained to me that being a Police Dispatcher is a great job for parents as there are both full-time and part-time hours available, and the hours fit really well around family life. She finds the police to be great employers and also very supportive and accommodating with her hours.
There’s also perks such as an on-site gym and Costa, and the Local Government Pension Scheme.
Not only this but she has made many good friends with other Police Dispatchers and often meet up in their spare time for social events, and have also formed their own dog-walking group. She explained that this group of friends offer each other solid emotional support when needed.
Elaine explained that the role of Police Dispatcher is one which you can clock off at the end of the day (or night if she is doing a night shift) and completely leave work behind; the job is done and dusted in every shift and you don’t have to take work home.
She works her hours by doing two late shifts, followed by two night shifts, then enjoys 6 days off – sounds good to me!
Her work is exciting and varied; no shift is the same. The calls she deals with include harassment, burglary, sexual offences, domestics, anti-social and suspicious behaviour.
While I sat with Elaine I watched her take calls concerning a domestic dispute between a couple with a child, a call regarding someone speeding their car 60 mph in a 20 zone and a call concerning a report of someone with an air-weapon threatening someone.
Elaine explained to me that to be a Police Dispatcher you need to be a good team worker, able to use a computer, compassionate, empathetic and also quite mentally strong as sometimes calls can be distressing. She explained to me that the hardest calls she has dealt with are those concerning children and also accidents on the motorway. Professional support is available to Police Dispatchers when they need it.
The second part of my afternoon was sent with Kate, a lovely mum of a 4-year old who works as a Call Taker in the emergency control room. Kate explained to me that she takes both emergency (999) and non-emergency calls (101).
The calls Kate takes vary hugely, for example from a recent call concerning the theft of someone’s cat dishes and reports of a loose goat to distressing reports of a man standing in front of a train. She explained the calls she takes often deal with missing person reports, mental health concerns and anti-social behaviour.
While I sat with Kate I watched her deal brilliantly with a call concerning a missing person with mental health issues who was both a threat to herself and others, reports of a kayak on a dual carriageway and an intimidation and harassment call where the caller was clearly very distressed.
Just like Elaine, Kate told me that the Police are supportive employers to parents and offer time off to employees to deal with children when needed; when her little boy has been sick they gave her much-need time off to look after him.
Kate works her hours by doing 6 shifts on and then 4 shifts off and told me she works her hours like this as it enables her to spend time with her son on her days off. When her son starts primary school in September she will change her hours to flexi-working to fit around him.
Kate told me that working as a Call Handler is a great job and that it is a really nice experience working in the control room as you get to know each other well and she has formed strong friendships with her colleagues, meeting up with them in her spare time and also car shares.
She explained that she really relishes making a difference to the public every single day; working in the Emergency Control Room is an important job.
I loved my experience in the Avon and Somerset Police HQ Emergency Control room and enjoyed meeting Elaine and Kate and everyone whom I was introduced to, everyone was very friendly.
Working as a Police Dispatcher (or Call Handler) would be a great job for parents. It’s an important role and one where you will make a difference to people’s lives, plus every day is different and exciting and there is lots of support available to do your job well and enjoy it, too.
Avon and Somerset Police are recruiting for Police Dispatchers right now. If you’d be interested, find out more and apply here: https://bit.ly/2siDWoI