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A student's journey into the Police

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So, I'm feeling better now (I hope you visited the blue lamp foundation's website), and I can't sleep, so I thought I'd let you know about the next stage of the application process for Staff's Specials.

As you know, I got the letter confirming I had passed the assessment day, and with it came a Counter-terrorism form and a medical questionnaire and a couple of erroneous medical-related papers.

Firstly- Counter-terrorism. Very important in this day and age. It's part of the vetting procedure, and has to be sent off, in a provided envelope, to a separate department (not just to Human Resources). It's a peachy/orangey booklet that you may have had to fill out for a whole number of different reasons, from being a civil servant to contract work inside a prison. It's essentially a more formal version of the vetting sheets from the application booklet at the start of the process. You're asked basic details about yourself and both of your parents, and then about your criminal history and if you've ever been involved in anarchistic, terrorist or racist elements groups. That's pretty much all there is to it, and it probably won't take you more than 20 minutes.

The next bit, the medical questionnaire, is quite simply, an absolute pain in the arse. Again, you fill out your details and your GP's details, and then you have to tick yes or no to several pages of various illnesses, and if you say that you've had one or more of them, you have to explain what it was and other details. Then you're asked your height and weight (so your BMI can be calculated) I'm 5'8" and 60Kg, so have a rather snazzy BMI of 19.2. Finally, and most problematically, for me anyway, is my immunisation history…as I moved Doctor, to my University's health centre I thought it would be best to go in and ask for my medical history, especially my height/weight and immunisation history, at a cost of 35p a sheet. 70p later (not funny- I couldn't afford a can of coke later because of that) I was told nothing about my immunisation history, excluding the Flu jab I was given when I arrived. I already knew about that, and it wasn't asked for on the questionnaire. *Sigh*

They want to know what year you were vaccinated against Diphtheria, tetanus, TB, Polio, and Hepatitis B. As I went to Honduras last year I couldn't be certain as to whether I had been recently been given top-ups to those, as opposed to my regular boosters etc. So, after a call to my old GP, where I had to tease, painfully, the year of my immunisations from the receptionists (who were actually very nice), and not have to wait for my mum to open the letter they sent to my parent's home address I finally had what I needed.

The other two sheets were simple enough, and asked your address (again) and your GP's address so they could send the form to him/her and get them to verify and sign it off. You don't need an exam or consultation to fill it out. The GP's are sent it later. The other sheet asks for your permission to have other people read your medical history etc.

Send them off and you're all done. I'm currently waiting on a letter informing me when the medical exam is, as (I always have been) I'm completely confident there is nothing on either of the forms that will hinder my application, otherwise my parents (and the government to a much greater extent) would have some serious explaining to do.

I'm glad I've got to this stage as now I can start to include the more exciting aspects of the application process, namely training, and eventually the duties I perform, which is what everyone's interested in, really.

As ever, leave a comment, rate the blog, and check out My blog's site.



Ups and Downs

So I have some fantastic news and some terrible news (and yes, I’m aware the title of this entry was misused slightly.)

So, firstly, the good news- I passed my Assessment day, with a pretty good margin. I have some medical and security forms to fill out, and I’ll go into some more detail about them in my next entry. But I’m incredibly happy about it. I was getting nervous about it, but I’m very confident I’ll pass the next couple bits of paper work.

Now for my bad news- I’m sorry to have to say, if you didn’t already know, that PC David Rathband has tragically passed away. This is the hero Cop who was shot in the face by Raoul Moats, was blinded but remained a Police Officer and set up one of the most badly needed and noble charities I know of, the Blue Light Foundation.

It would appear, however, that in the two years since he was shot, his marriage broke down and it seems he committed suicide. I can’t blame his wife. Very few people could know how stressful that situation is for partners, as well as the victim. I can however blame Raoul Moats, the coward who has another name to add to the list of people he murdered, in my opinion. There are very few people I hate with a seething passion in this world, but Moats was/is one of them. Further, I’m at a loss for words at the politicians that have to gall to give superficial condolences, especially to further their aims, such as whether the Northumberland Police gave PC Rathband enough support. It simply is not the time and, honestly, makes me feel physically sick.

PC Rathband was one of my true heros. If I could be half the Police Officer he was then I can die a happy man. If you can spare a few pounds please make a donation to, or buy some merchandise from, http://bluelamp-foundation.org/. It’s a worthy charity that helps members of the emergency services, and their families, who are criminally inured in the line of duty. If you couldn’t, or don’t, do the job (whether it’s the Police, Ambulance or Fire service) help those that do, and get injured helping people like you.

RIP David Rathband 1968-2012.


I know, I know. I’m sorry. I promised regular blogs and I’ve not posted one recently. I have good cause, I promise. I’ve been waiting until I got my results back from my assessment day. I expected this to be today, but I must’ve misunderstood when they mentioned 10 days, at some point.

It’s been 10 days since I did the assessment, so perhaps I interpreted getting the results back in 10 days as me finding out today. Maybe it was the recruiters getting the results back to let us know by Monday. Either way I don’t really care. I was getting pretty nervous, although somewhat caffeine induced so this hasn’t helped. However I do have a defence mechanism for this kind of event (it could just be the Royal Mail being evil SOBs). I tend to enter a kind of ‘Que sera sera’ state, where I kind of trick myself into thinking I don’t care.

Moving on now, Mike and I have been working quite hard on the blog, me with the writing and trying to come up with ideas; Mike with the graphic design and coming up with ideas. I’ve got a few ideas on the sort of thing I want for the blog’s look, but by and large I’m struggling to settle on a title and tagline. Maybe I should let it flow more naturally, and the right one will come along at some point. The downside is that I’ve been persuaded by Mike to set up a twitter account(actually, just revamp my old account), and I need an @blogtitle that hasn’t already been taken.

I think I’m somewhat odd in that I’m at university and still have no idea how to use twitter. I’ve never been interested in it, probably because either I didn’t follow anyone interesting or I had nothing interesting to say. Now…I have something to say. Whether it’s interesting or not isn’t really for me to decide.

This is just going to be a quick blog; I hope to publish a slightly longer one about the Criminal Justice system and how what the public’s opinion is, is generally wrong. Sorry Daily Fail.


My external blog


Crunch time

Hey guys, so I’ve been holding off writing for a few days so I could report on my Assessment day with Staffs Police. I expect you’ve read other blogs on the same topic, but here’s my contribution. Please remember that you’re asked to sign a confidentiality form, so I won’t be revealing any details of the questions asked. I also have some news about the blog, and I’d appreciate your input.

So, I had a fire drill at twenty to six in the morning. Not the best start to possibly the most important day of my life so far…(fortunately, as a drummer I brought my ear defenders with me to uni- the high pitched, loud and continuous tone didn’t bother me ;)). I woke up, put on my best suit and set off for the train station. On the way, being panicky I received a phone call from a fellow student who is currently a serving special for Herts. He was kind enough to give me a lot of help in regards to my interview questions and examples, which I’ll get around to later.

Having caught the train, and being desperate, but failing, to start up a conversation with a couple of BTP officers on the station platform, I jumped in a taxi and arrived at Staffs Police HQ.

It was the wrong one.

There a two HQ’s/stations in Stafford, but on the map only one is marked as the HQ. Luckily I realised this with enough to time to get taken to the correct location, with time to spare. It was nearly a costly mistake.

I signed myself in at 10 to 1 and took a seat next to another young lad, who was doing a policing course, where one of the requirements is to be a special constable for two years.

One of the assessors came along and took us into a room upstairs, where she proceeded to inform us about the day, asked us to sign confidentiality agreements, and got us started on our 20 minute written test. I felt I did quite well with this and managed to cover what they asked, however I feel that I may have missed out on a covering a couple of the core competencies with my answer.

This would become a common theme throughout my day, but I expect it was mostly nerves and paranoia. I had the mindset that, while I’d try and hit as many of the positive indicators as possible I’d still be true to myself. I wouldn’t say I’d do something that as an officer I wouldn’t. Fortunately this wasn’t really relevant for me.

After around and hour or so, at around 2 we moved into another block for, yes, the dreaded interview. I was in the second group of four who would get interviewed, so I was stuck waiting for about half an hour while the other group did their interviews. It did give me the opportunity to talk to some of my fellow applicants one of whom is from this forum no less, although I did plan to drop PS.com into the conversation somewhere, to fish for other members, so to speak.

All too soon it was time for my interview. My main problem, when doing something important, is that my mouth dries out, so ensure you had a cup or bottle of water during the interview, just to buy some thinking time, if nothing else. My interviewer was a nice bloke, although don’t expect much chit chat aside from a greeting. The questions weren’t quite how I expected, but fortunately, and this a definite recommendation, I had two examples for each competency that I could alternatively to each other. It was a big help as my primary examples weren’t always relevant, although I should have used them for at least one question. This is no doubt paranoia though, again.

I was trying to avoid watching my interview tick things off, like you do on your driving test, but I noticed some questions got more marks than others. Fortunately the process is averaged over all, so we’ll see. I even managed to drop some jokes, in, or at least make the interviewer laugh, which is always good, even for something where the interviewer’s opinion counts for little, if anything. You do get asked question to expand your answer, so use these to add more detail to your replies. I didn’t get asked about my strengths or weaknesses, or why I wanted to join the Police, so while I would recommend that you do prepare for that, as all forces are different, just be genuinely yourself when answering that.

After my 20 minutes was up I went out of the room, with about a minute to spare before the others came out of their interviews, and we headed back into the main reception/canteen block for the final part of the assessment- the multiple choice test.

Do not be fooled by this- it is, at times, fiendishly difficult. Expect to be challenged. My advice would be to think about how, as you would want the officer to act, if you were involved or an observer. Try not to think about the competencies too much, it will distract you to an extent, and really you should just be honest about what you would, or wouldn’t do in each situation, because you may well have to deal with it one day.

We finished the test after an hour, and were debriefed and allowed to leave. I shared a taxi to the train station with one of my future colleagues (Hopefully!), bought a cuppa (I was gasping) and, after getting messed around with platform changes got a train back home. Got the bus and got back with 30 whole minutes before hockey training. What a lucky young man I am. ¬¬

All in all I’m now feeling quite good about how it went. There will definitely have been worse candidates, not that you want to be the lesser of two evils, and a lot of the negativity that you may feel will be a passing phase. As soon as I left the HQ I felt a kind of serenity wash over me (two Firefly references in one sentence, anyone?), and while I am slightly nervous, of course, I was not nearly as panicky as I thought I would be. I think I’ve made the grade :D

Still- 10 days until judgement day, well, 9 when you read this.

Onto the second part of my blog (“Oh God, there’s more of this?†– Yep, sorry): I’ve recently been thinking about getting a wider audience base for this blog, because really do enjoy writing these, so I’ve been considering hosting this externally for the general public, as well as posting them on here. MikeBrum’s been kind enough to offer to help me host it.

I’ve been trying to think of some decent names for the blog too and came up with a few suggestions:

Here comes the fuzz

Stabproofs and Tunics

A study in blue (A play on a Sherlock Holmes novel)

Boys in Blue

I personally prefer the first one, but if you like another, or have a better recommendation, please let me know in the comments section.

Again, if you liked the blog, let me know, give me 5 stars in the top corner and recommend me to other people on the board, and even other people in general.

Thanks very much,



Rung number two

So, big news, and the second rung on my ladder to joining the Police- I’ve been given an assessment date! I’ve got a few weeks to work on my competencies and make sure my examples are as strong as they could be. I’m mainly going to talk about the pack I’ve been given, maybe try and break some of the things down, and in the process, get my mind-cogs turning (maybe even add a bit of WD-40), and see if I can come up with the best examples I can. I’ll also be mentioning a few of the things I’ve noticed in past couple of weeks that you guys may find of interest. For you guys who have already been through the process, you may want to tune out for a while until I’ve finished this first bit.

So- the assessment day information pack. First thing’s first- send the reply letter off, otherwise any effort you put into practicing it will be utterly wasted, as you’ll have to wait another 6 months and re-apply, without replying or just the 6 months, if for whatever reason you can’t make the date.

I’m going to throw in a quick disclaimer here- everything I discuss in this post is based on the Staffordshire Police’s assessment day pack, and it may vary between forces (but the general principles will be the same, if there is any variation whatsoever), and nowhere does the pack say I can’t discuss the contents, which are actually more vague that you’d expect. Disclaimer over.

Right, so, the pack (for me) includes a map of Stafford, a cover letter telling me I’m invited to an assessment day next month, and a ‘recruitment process booklet’ as it like to call itself and an RSVP letter, just like you used to get for birthday parties. It’s making me all nostalgic.

Moving swiftly on- The process booklet contains information on the three activites that will take place on the day- A written test, structured interview and a situational judgement test. The written test is self-explanatory- You’re given a fiction scenario in a fictional town (Sandford Town, like Hot Fuzz…no influence, either way, of course) and you have to write a proposal document for your response, in 20 minutes. The interview is just that, an interview where, I believe you are asked questions such as ‘give an example of a time when you showed resilience’ (I can’t be certain about this, and if anyone who’s been through the process can, and would like to, let me know if I’m right or not, can feel free to leave a comment below. I’m not certain if you’re allowed to do this however), like in some versions of the original application form. Finally the situational judgement test- a 65 minute, multiple choice quiz, where you have to select the best and worst answer. These will be a process of elimination, but as with the example question I was given, it can be tricky- Make sure that the question is read thoroughly, and what seems to be the worst option might not necessarily be the worst. Needless to say I got the worst answer wrong. I still say it was a trick question though, there were equally as bad.

like I said earlier, the assessment day pack is actually a bit vague, especially in regards to the interview, which is (quite simply) what I find to be making me most nervous. But don’t worry! You’re assessed on various competencies all day, at least twice. The assessors will give you a grade per competency, between A and D, and it’s your average grade, I believe that you’re passed/failed on. You are also told what you need to get in each competency (I assume) to pass, as well as what it is they’re looking for, and what will get you kicked out of the process before you can say…uhmmm…don’t kick me out of the process. Race and Diversity you need an A. No surprises there. The others it’s either a B or C. Don’t get a D.

As a whole I’d say that the instructions given are pretty good, and I suppose that it’s designed not to give you clues, and while, from what I’ve heard, they want you to pass (and it’s going to take some serious stupidity to fail straight up) they aren’t going to give you examples and answers. They expect you to put the work in, otherwise there’d be no point in the tests.

A final point- The hardest part, I find, it that while it’s going to take real idiocy to get D’s on things like Race and Diversity, it doesn’t appear to be that easy to get an A. On a similar line- to those that have done this bit- can you give multiple examples per competency, or does it have to be just the one situation?

Now then- stuff I’ve noticed. This bit will be brief, mainly because I don’t really notice anything, because I don’t really do anything. I’m a student. ‘Nuff said. Actually, the one thing I’d like to mention is the way that people will often say “I expect this will get -1’d, but I’m going to say it anywayâ€, or “You’re all going to neg me, but I don’t careâ€, or similar. If you don’t care, a) why say it? b) don’t let people use the reputation system to change your opinions.

One of my favourite things that I’ve noticed is that people are more than happy to tell you that they’ve _1’d you, but will rarely tell you they’ve -1’d you. Why is this? It may be that they’re scared of being -1’d back? The MODs aren’t stupid, they’ll pick up on this sharpish and will get it sorted, especially if you ask them to look into it. I love the rep. system personally, but I wish people would explain why they’re giving a +/-. I mean, if a child gets an answer wrong the teacher doesn’t just mark them down, they explain where they went wrong, so they can have a better chance of being correct next time. This is the same with opinions- you have to explain, maybe even give evidence as to, why your opinion is right and why theirs is wrong, as opposed to ‘it just is’.


NB- Hi everyone, thanks for reading my blog, again I’d love some feedback on it. Any improvements you think I could/should make- too long, too short, more/less detail. What sort of things would you like to read about? How often would you like me to make a blog? I’m currently leaning towards fortnightly, but I’m more than willing to do a weekly blog if that’s what you’d be interested in. I find that a lot of policing related blogs are fairly irregular. I expect a lot of people lose interest after a few blogs. Not me though, you’re stuck with me now. I’ve got the bug ^^. On that note, I do spend quite a bit of time writing these and I’d really appreciate it if you spend a few moments leaving me a comment, maybe even rating the blog (5* would be lovely, but it’s up to you), let me know how you feel about the things I discuss and letting other people know about the blog, especially if you think it would be of use to them.

Thanks very much,


In My Blood

Policing is in my blood. That's probably the easiest way to sum it up. My Dad was an Inspector when he retired, after 30 years of service which ranged from traffic to CID to desk sergeant, from Notts Constabulary. My Mum works for the CPS. Has done for as long as I can remember. You could say that the Law is in my blood, that the Criminal Justice system is second nature to me.

As this is my first blog entry, I'd like to give you some background on my life, and how much policing means to me, before I get into the application process, and eventually (because it is inevitable) my duties. I think it's only fair that, if I give you regular and hopefully interesting blogs, you have to know a little bit about me.

Some of my earliest memories are when my dad had to take me to work with him, because of an Inset or something. I'd run around my town's police station, up and down the stairs, attempting to play snooker on a full size table. I was about 4 or 5. I couldn't play snooker. I could barely hold the cue.

I was never allowed round to the front desk, for reasons that now make sense to me. My home town was a medium sized ex-mining town, but you can see those that are addicted to heroin. I'm proud to have a home town where one of the estates was featured on The Jeremy Kyle Show special on gangs *Insert sarcasm emoticon here*. It's not a really a gang. Not like the ones in cities. They're chavs, on benefits, that just make life hell for the other people living on their estate, on their street. I mention this because my old man told, after watching the episode with me, how he'd gathered the chav's parents in a community meeting, years ago, and told them straight up what was happening and how they could improve their estate. He reduced the crime rate in my town dramatically. I'm proud of my Dad. I want to do him proud. I will do him proud.

I didn't want to be a Police Officer for most of my life. Truth be told I wanted to be a Palaeontologist. Then an Archaeologist, then a Palaeontologist, then a forensic scientist, then back to palaeontology again. I was stubborn and stuck with that for years, but I didn't really believe it. I think I was scared that what I thought I was destined for just didn't interest me anymore. I did my work experience at a forensic car clinic (PM for some information about that, or I may go into it in another blog), and I wanted to study Geology at university. Forensic science was just a hobby, as far as I could be a part time forensic scientist…

Then, one evening, while staying with my Gran, I watch an episode of Street Crime UK or something. I'm fascinated. I'm excited. I'm addicted. I think to myself- I could do that. And so begins my torrent of questions to my Dad. This is a man who's been retired for 7 or 8 years, a man who's moved on, who has a headful memories, some of which he'd rather forget. I don't understand why he's not proud. He says he just did his job. It was just a job. To me it was a calling.

It didn't take long for me to work out my battle plan. I'd do my A-levels, go to Uni and then, jobs in the Police will have opened up. I find out about Specials, being a part-timer appeals to me. Practice makes perfect, as they say. I learn about PS.com and sign up. It's a great resource, filled with friendly, informative and ever-so-rarely cynical people.

Over the next year or so I begin to immerse myself in the world of PS.com, and of the various reality TV police shows, from Road Wards to Brit Cops. I learn from them, learn how to deal with certain situations, and get wound up by people flouting the law. I began to make promises to myself: Always to get involved in fights and break them up, always do the right thing, make sure that my every action ensures I uphold the law. Unfortunately I only ever had the opportunity to break up a fight twice. It wasn't dramatic but I was proud of it. I was less proud when I walked when I walked away from breaking up another one. I think I was most worried about how much force I should use. I was ashamed of myself to say the least.

More than a year later I turn 18. The day before my birthday I talk to one of my School's Behaviour Mentor. He used to be my school's Police Liaison Officer. I remember he once broke up a fight by grabbing the two lads by their collars and dragging them by the scruffs of their necks up to his office. He was a good cop. He told me that he joined my Dad's old station a year or two after he retired. He told me about my Dad's reputation, and it fills me with pride. It turns out that the other Behaviour Mentor is a Special Constable, who has an important role in recruiting SCs. A few days later my application pack arrives. I open it more excitedly than my birthday presents and get started.

I've never believed in destiny or fate, but I do believe that people are suited to do a certain job. Some people are born to be Nobel scientists, some to be actors; others are born to be doctors, dentists or builders. Some are born to do great things that are remembered, other people will have a more humble life. Me? I was born to be a Police Officer. I get the feeling sometimes that I live in a romanticised vision of the Police, where red tape and politics don't exist. That's what I want to return the Police to. But most of the time I hold no such illusions, but I want to do it anyway. I have to do it anyway. If I don't become a Police Officer I genuinely believe there is no point in my existence. I have a knack for learning and interpreting law, and I'm willing to throw myself into dangerous situations to protect other people. Despite all the bureaucracy and politics, I believe in being that thin blue line.


Hi, guys. This is my first blog entry and I'd like some feedback. If you think it was too long, or detailed, boring or irrelevant or if there's anything you'd like me to cover in a future entry. Also how often you'd like me to post an entry, if you want me to do another entry, that is.