What our officers have to say about working at SYP

Date published: 23 March 2023 14:55

On this page you can hear from officers already doing various roles across South Yorkshire Police and hear from two new recruits that are going through the training process now. Follow their journey through their blog and gain an insight into the role and recruitment process.

Blog - New recruit PC Shane Murphy shares his experience as he goes through the training

PC Shane Murphy blog 1 

PC Shane Murphy blog 2

Blog - New recruit PC Lauren Potts shares her journey as she begins working in the Sheffield district

PC Lauren Potts - District here I come 

PC Lauren Potts - District Life 

From call handler to Detective Sergeant: Lucy talks us through a 'job like no other'

A woman in front of a blue background in a black and patterned top. She is smiling and looking directly at the camera.

After Lucy Garside was told to get a ‘real job’ by her dad at age 21, she joined South Yorkshire Police as a call handler.

13 years later, Lucy is now the Detective Sergeant in our Protecting Vulnerable People (PVP) Performance and Governance department, leading a team that reviews the way local professionals and partner organisations work together to safeguard vulnerable adults or children, looking at ways we can improve our practices within force.

We spoke to Lucy to find out a little bit more about how she came about joining the force, and her role now.

Lucy said: “I never had the childhood dream of being a police officer like many do, I actually wanted to be a PE teacher! Although I did used to LOVE watching The Bill back in the day so maybe that is where it started without me realising… I absolutely loved my time in the control room, I made some friends for life in there, but I realised I wanted to be out dealing with the investigations rather than taking the calls, I always wanted to know the outcome as the calls developed into jobs and I started to convince myself I could do it after a few years of lacking confidence about what I was going to do with my life.

“I started off my career on a response team as a student officer in Sheffield. I knew I wanted my career to go down the CID route from the early days and organised my own attachment to the then known Child Abuse Unit to see what it was like.

“From there I worked towards the Trainee Investigators programme by getting a job in the volume crime team and also did a stint in a department dedicated to victims of rape and sexual offences. I took my exam and was placed in the burglary and robbery unit where I got one of my first big convictions at court seeing a prolific bogus official burglar get nine years in prison for the multiple burglaries of the elderly in Sheffield. It’s great when you see an investigation through to court and someone is rightly convicted.

“Although I enjoyed my time there, I started my journey with vulnerable adults in the Safeguarding Adults Team at Rotherham. I then moved to PVP in Sheffield after having my little boy and decided to start working towards promotion. I am extremely proud of being a working mum and I coordinate SYP’s Parent Support Network, a peer to peer scheme looking out for and assisting working parents all over SYP.

“I have always looked for opportunities to develop myself in my career and I am currently working towards a University Diploma as a TIER 5 Investigative Interview Advisor which will hopefully see me advising interview teams on major investigations. I am also signed off as a Specialist Child Abuse Investigator."

The role doesn’t come without its challenges, as you can imagine. Lucy continued: “There are times where your work/life balance can be challenged and you need to have thick skin and a great support network at home to understand there may be times where you might be working past the end of your shift with barely any notice or knowing you may come home having dealt with awful circumstances and giving you time to process them.

“I am lucky as my husband is a serving Police Inspector so we have a level of understanding about what it is like to both be in the police. It is also challenging, in the PVP world especially, to deal with some of the worst offenders in society but I always remind myself why I come to work and that is for those victims who need you to be their voice in their darkest times. The difference you feel like you have made to that victim’s life through coming to work and doing your job is not something you feel in an every day job.”

To finish off our chat, Lucy provided some advice for those who are thinking of joining SYP as a detective: “Anyone who is considering joining us as a detective, who understand there will be highs and lows of such a varied role but is prepared to put everything into, then go for it. The opportunities afforded to you as a substantive DC are as wide as you want them to be whether that is working in major crime or looking for promotion.

“You are joining a job like no other, a rollercoaster, but one you will hopefully get off at the end of your career and look back thinking you made a difference and had some great experiences along the way.”

Keeping it in the family: mum-of-three starts policing career by taking on her dad’s collar number

With three children and a career in school finance, PC Nicola Appleton never thought she would be following in her dad’s footsteps and becoming a police officer. But that’s exactly what she has done.

Nicola recently ‘passed out’ from her student officer training and is now out on the beat in Barnsley helping to keep the local community safe.

We spoke to her about what it’s like to not only start a life-changing career, but to embark on the same path her dad did 36 years ago.

She said: “I was working as a school finance consultant in Doncaster and Barnsley, doing budgets and financing.

“Policing seemed like a world away, but it was always in the back of my mind.

“Growing up, my dad was a police officer in South Yorkshire for more than 30 years. So seeing him in the job while I was growing up was a real inspiration.

“It’s something I’d always wanted to do, but I just never got round to it.

“At 29 I really thought that I was ‘passed it’ and that I’d missed my chance.

“I’ve had a family, and with three daughters aged six, two and one I thought that there was no way a career in policing would even be feasible given my home life.

“I just thought, if I apply, would they even accept me?

“I couldn’t shake the thought though, so I applied on a whim as ‘one last chance’ and I’m so happy to say I did it. Here I am!

“The application process was quite lengthy, but it actually worked in my favour. My youngest daughter was just one-month-old when I applied, and so because the application process took around 12 months it meant that by the time I was ready to begin my training, I’d had a full year with her.

“Overall, applying was pretty straight-forward and the team kept me informed throughout the whole process which was a big help.

“When I found out that I’d been successful, I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t tell my eldest daughter that I’d gone for it, but once I knew I’d got in I told her. She was so excited, she went round school telling everyone!

“She now says when she’s older she wants to become a police officer too.

“My children have got used to me going back full-time now. Before I worked part-time, so it was a big change but they’ve got used to it. I think having an exciting career also helped them to be excited for me!

“In training, it was also reassuring that there was such a mix of ages and backgrounds, there was such a blend that I never felt that me being a mum of three ever came into it.

“I loved my training even more than I thought I would. The best part is the people I’ve met. They are some of the nicest, most selfless people that you could ever dream of meeting. It makes you think: ‘I am so lucky to have met them’.

“The trainers have also been amazing, they’re so invested in our learning and have been there for anything we’ve needed.

An old photograph showing police officers in uniform marching in their passing out parade. A  head and shoulders image of a dark-haired woman wearing a black top.

PC Nicola Appleton

“Moving forward, I’m looking forward to finding out who I’m working with, getting out there and getting stuck in.

“My dad is now retired, and I am so proud to be taking on his collar number. I really hope my children will be as proud of me one day as I am of him.

“For any other mum considering a career change it really can be a daunting prospect, especially for something like policing which requires a lot of training.

“If you’re thinking about taking the plunge, I’d say go for it; don’t let it hold you back.

“I want my daughters to be proud of me. This is what I want to do and this career is definitely something to be proud of.”

If, like Nicola, you’re thinking about a career in policing, make sure you head to our website to complete an application.

For advice on applying, and guidance about your eligibility please do not hesitate to get in touch with our recruitment team.

What's it like to be a mounted officer?

We spoke to PC Phil Reed over at Ring Farm in Barnsley about what it's like to be a mounted police officer.

With the help of his trusty steed Bawtry he tells us all about his day-to-day, what he likes about it, and how he became a mounted officer.

Watch out for the moment where Bawtry gets a little curious about our camera!

Would you like to work with Phil and Bawtry? Apply to be an officer with us to begin your journey. 

What's it like to train with us?

We spoke to PC Aliya as she 'passed out' from her student officer training. She is now out on the beat keeping our communities safe as a fully-fledged officer.

We caught up with her to find out what she enjoyed about training and when she is most looking forward to in her role.

If, like Aliya, you have a passion for public service, don't miss your chance to apply to be an officer too.

Head to www.southyorks.police.uk/bethefuture to apply.

Army Veteran With 24-Years’ Experience Carves Out New Career at SYP

A uniformed, male police officer standing in front of Barnsley Police Station

A career change for many is no easy feat. A new team, a new office and new skills to learn can be a daunting prospect, and after 24 years in the army- the last five years as a Company Sergeant Major - no one would blame Stewart for wanting to hang up the uniform for good and get some well-deserved R&R.

Instead, after his successful military career and at the age of 49, Stewart knew he wanted to start again and become a police officer.

After applying in 2018, Stewart was successful and is now a student officer with us training in Barnsley.

We met up with him to talk about his decision to start a new career and his journey at South Yorkshire Police so far. He said: “After 24 years spent in the army, and two years in the reserves as I completed my application, I found out I had been successful in December 2018.

“The past nine months as a student officer have been brilliant. The group I currently work with are such a great team.

“Moving from the army to the police, you still get that sense of comradery, that sense of watching each others’ backs and looking out for each other when we’re going out on jobs. And there’s a good bit of banter too!

“Joining the police was almost going full-circle. I’d applied before joining the army but my confidence just wasn’t there. But after 24-years in the army, it’s safe to say my confidence has grown, and so it was a natural choice to go for the police on leaving.

“The best thing about my training so far is having such a great team around me, but another part of it is getting out there and speaking to people.

“I think there’s often a misconception that being a cop is all blue lights and putting people in handcuffs, but I’ve learned through my training that actually by talking to people, using your voice and using those conflict management skills that the army gave me, you can resolve a situation much better for everyone.

“Having that military experience really helps - throughout your career you pick up so many communication skills. I’ve even been able to assist some of my colleagues in a couple of situations involving veterans who have fallen on the wrong side of the law.

“Having that rapport and that shared background means I can understand what they’re going through and how they might have got into the situation they are in, and that’s something I really want to continue to help with as my career progresses.

“If you’re in the military, whether you’ve been there four years, 10 years or 24 years like me, whatever stage you’re coming out - the police is another career for life.

“As a police officer, you have a great team, opportunities to progress and a really good work life balance.

“A sixth month tour in the army can often be much longer than that, and if you have children it can be really hard. So joining the police, the shifts and routine are much more conducive to a good family life. Even if you work night shifts, you come home at 7am just in time for the school run, so you can drop the kids off and then go home and sleep.

“I’ve found at SYP, your team becomes your platoon; you have 20 people all looking out for you each and every shift.

“On top of this, a career in the police, much like the army, is full of opportunity. There are so many variations of jobs you can do - at all different levels - from firearms, dogs, traffic, PVP, town centre policing teams. It’s whatever takes your fancy and whatever you want to get out of it.

“I’m two months into my independent stage of training, getting my own workload to manage, going out to investigate crimes- and I’m certainly enjoying it.

“One piece of advice I was always told in the army is ‘knowledge dispels fear’, and you’re always fearful going into a new situation. But if you’ve got the knowledge, nine times out of ten you’ll be fine. So for any veteran considering a move to the police, I’d say, you’ve got the skills, you’ve got the knowledge, so go for it.”

Quick-fire questions

Name: Robert Carter

Which course are you on and how long have you been in training?

I am currently on the Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP) course, I have been on this programme for around three months now.

What did you do before joining the force?

Before joining the force, I worked for NHS 111 as a Health Advisor, my main role here was to take calls from the public and give guidance on all manners of medical problems. This role for sure prepared me to expect the unexpected.

Why did you join the force?

It sounds cliché, but I joined the force to inspire other young adults, there is not a lot of positivity these days and growing up feeling like you have to have your life completed by 25 is a huge stressor for most young people. I wanted to show people of my age that you can accomplish a big career step if you put your mind too it additionally, you can influence change in big organisations from the inside by working hard and being present. If one person looks at me and it gives them a sense of motivation, then that’s worthwhile.

What are you enjoying the most about training?

The thing I enjoy the most is the sense of comradery, its so nice to have a class of people that feel like your family. It helps to nurture your learning and additionally gives you extra people to lean on if you need a helping hand.

What are you most looking forward to?

I would say going out to district is the thing I am looking forward to the most. There’s only so much learning from a classroom you can do. I learn by doing, so going to district and throwing myself into whatever situation arises is something I am really looking forward too.

What would you say to people who are thinking of joining SYP?

Although I don’t have much service under my belt, I would say this job is for anyone looking for a career that is ever changing, fast paced and has unlimited opportunities for person and professional growth. You will have the biggest family in the world and will be supported to make sure you can make the biggest impact upon your communities.

A male uniformed police officer holding is hat under his arm, talking to a member of the public in the community
A male uniformed police officer standing front of a liveried police car

Name: Waqaar Hussain

Which course are you on and how long have you been in training?

I am on the DHEP course, and I have been training since October 2020.

What did you do before joining the force?

I studied Chemical Biology and Drug Design at the University of Leeds.

Why did you join the force?

I enjoyed studying my course at University but I wanted a career where there was variety. Therefore, the police was appealing as you never know what you’re going to be faced with on the day. Also, the opportunity for development and progression within the police is great. I am a people person and enjoy interacting with the public.

South Yorkshire Police had been recommended by a friend and since joining, I have witnessed first hand the efforts to change the historical perceptions of the police as whole but especially SYP.

What are you enjoying the most about training?

Training is great. From the first day, I made great bonds with others on the course. The variety of backgrounds that the students had made training interesting as everyone had different views on things but we were all able to come together to share our views and learn from others.

The different teams you get to work on makes training interesting. You’re able to experience what the local neighbourhood teams do and use this knowledge when you go back to response. The police allows you to meet a variety of different people who come from diverse backgrounds.

The adrenaline rush you get when blue lighting to a job. Arriving and not knowing what you are going to be faced with is something that I have never experienced before!

There was always a huge emphasis on mental health throughout training.

What are you enjoying the most about studying, and how have you been supported with your studies?

Studying alongside work isn’t easy. However, the University are there to support your learning. The material learnt is interesting as you are able to study about the historical past of the police and partner agencies. This allowed us to understand the mistakes and failings, and learn from these.

What are you most looking forward to?

I am really looking forward to developing my skills and seeing myself improve on a weekly basis. Being able to put myself in situations outside of my comfort zone when I am independent patrol status.

I am looking forward to getting my blue light training!

I am looking forward to gaining experience in other departments such as CID in the next part of training.

What would you say to people who are thinking of joining SYP?

SYP is a great force to join. The training and colleagues are extremely supportive and always try to do what they can to help. There is a team working culture and you will always be welcomed onto a new team. The development opportunities are great. Every day is different and you will meet a variety of people who are from all walks of life!