I am now officially going in to week 12 of training school after an annual leave week with only 14 weeks left - nearly half way! It's gone ridiculously fast that I can hardly believe we're in double figures already. It's been a fair few weeks since I last posted an update here, and after a bit of prompting I've decided now is probably a good time.
We've been doing a lot of legislation over the past few weeks, and had two consolidation role plays days to practice what we'd learnt. These days consist of getting fully kitted up including high vis jackets and roaming around in pairs/threes until you are deployed over the radio to an 'incident', where an assessor and several students from the local college act out a scenario. The hardest part of these, for me, has definitely been the radio stuff. It's a whole other language to me and I've never experienced anything like it before, I still even get a bit stumped over Phonetic Alphabet, the other day I was spelling out 'JONES' and 'October, November' came out of my mouth, much to the amusement of the assessor. Like I said, we've had two of these consolidation days so far and I hated every second of the first one, despite the scenarios themselves not being too much of a disaster, the worry and pressure made me soo nervous. For example, we completely forgot to search a shoplifter who we transported to (fake) custody only for the assessor to pull a massive knife out of his hoodie, schoolboy error!! But to be fair to us, we had only just covered searching so I think we were worried about how much it had been drilled into us that searches can so easily be unlawful. But, the second time around, I enjoyed every single scenario we attended as I really felt that I had grasped how to achieve the best outcome, and I especially enjoyed the ones that involved talking to people rather than going straight in with legislation, but actually really enjoyed the satisfaction of getting them right.
We also spent a week visiting the stations we'll be working at and those in the same area as us as well, so for me that was my station and the station that has the custody suite, which are a fair distance apart. Although not the most exciting week ever, it was really great to get to meet some of the people I might be working with and familiarise myself with the station. We spent a day in Court which was also quite interesting, and it was a lot different to when I visited several years ago on work experience with a journalist who I'll never forget being so angry at as he laughed someone crying as his case was heard in court. One officer took us for a tour around the area I'll be covering in a marked car, which to me was really, really cool, having never been in one before. The area that we cover is so huge though, and the stories of a small number of people being on shift at the same time and the amount of time it takes to get from one end of the area to another has made me a bit nervous!! I definitely payed a bit more extra attention in PST after knowing how far away backup could be and how often I'll be single-crewed.
Since I last posted, we have started and pretty much finished our Personal Safety Training (PST/OST) which was so much fun from beginning to end. I woke up the morning after each session with plenty of bruises but really enjoyed having practical lessons and being shown how to defend myself. I think for a lot of us on my course it made it all seem quite real, as we joked around pretending to stab each other with plastic knifes, that in just a few months time we'll be out there and may well have to use these techniques from the very start. I've started engaging a lot more in Police news lately, and reading posts by UK Cop Humour on Facebook, and every post that is dedicated towards a fallen officer makes me feel so much different now that I am one of them. I've gained so much respect for the job through the stories from our trainers and understanding the daily struggles that officers face, even just leaving their family for a shift and not knowing what is going to happen in the hours that follow. I think it's really hit me just how dangerous this job can be, but that the work I will be doing will be so personally rewarding that it makes it all worth it (I hope!).
Files, files and more files have been thrown at us left right and centre and on Friday we had the whole day to complete a GAP (Guilty Anticipated Plea) file which was hard enough, let alone learning what needs to be included in an NGAP file. To be honest, this has confused me quite a lot, and although I really enjoyed doing the file, it was really just because we had all the information in front of us, and I can't bear to think how hard it'd be to build one of these up completely from scratch! It has, however, made me really excited for our Interviewing course which is just around the corner.
We recently went on a training night out to a nearby city which was so much fun, and really bonded us as a team even more than before. It was great to let our hair down for the night and, for me, get dressed up and look like a normal human being again rather than having my hair all scraped back and barely any makeup on. Following this we've had a week off for annual leave, which has been nice, but I'm itching to get back to it tomorrow as we start on Road Traffic stuff for the next two weeks before our Driving course which comes in March.
I think the highlight for these past few weeks for me was our individual review that happened at the end of last week where I really began to feel like I was actually headed towards where I'm meant to end up. My trainer said that he loved the way I spoke to people during consolidations and thought that my humour would get me far, which was so encouraging for me as all this time I've been a bit worried that this job might turn me into a robot. The knowledge that I might actually be doing OK has given me so much more motivation and confidence for the remainder of the course and I think it came at just the right time for me.
Other than that, my boots still aren't shiny and my tunic still has dodgy creases, but every day that I put on my uniform and walk up to HQ I feel more and more proud of how far I've come and more and more excited for what is to come next.
Thanks for reading, sorry this was a long one!