Hertfordshire now has the most diverse police force in its history.
Not only are many new officers reflecting our communities, they’re bringing so much more to the job, says Inspector Debbie Jacyna, from Workforce Development.
‘The great thing about many of our positive action candidates is that as well as often speaking another language, which is so useful on the beat, many come into policing slightly later, with real life experience,’ she explained. ‘Like Florentina, who I mentored. She ran her own business and volunteered in a women’s refuge before joining us and this makes such a difference.’
Romanian-born Police Constable Florentina Ilie (pictured 2nd row right), who has lived in the UK for 12 years, says the support from the Positive Action Team made a huge difference to her recruitment journey.
‘They were so helpful and encouraging, there’s no way I could have done it without their support, step by step,’ said Florentina, 32, who previously ran her own beauty business. ‘Even after the application process, the team were a constant reassurance and cared how I was doing, encouraging me – it was wonderful. It really does feel like you’re being welcomed into Hertfordshire’s policing family.’
In fact, policing literally runs in the family for Florentina: her dad served in the Romanian police force, as did her grandparents.
Florentina, who hopes to inspire other women and people whose first language isn’t English to apply to join the force, passed out as a student PC in December and started her probation with Harpenden Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT) just after Christmas.
‘I absolutely love it,’ she smiled. ‘When I’m at home I can’t wait to get back to work. I hope to inspire others to follow my experience and to help people turn their lives around.’
As Herts constabulary starts its push to recruit extra officers, Chief Constable Charlie Hall says they are committed to recruiting a workforce that reflects the communities they serve and protect, making more effort to attract and support people from under-represented backgrounds through the recruitment process.
He said: ‘You often hear misconceptions about positive action – for example that it’s positive discrimination and a tick box exercise. This couldn’t be further from the truth. We work hard to support candidates hoping to become officers to help level the playing field, encouraging people from different backgrounds and under-represented groups. Ultimately, everyone is assessed equally on merit.’
Recent new recruits supported through positive action include former teachers, ex-military personnel, an ex-barrister and charity workers with numerous languages spoken, ranging from Arabic to Romanian, Portuguese to Yoruba (a West African language). And for the first time, there are more than 100 black, Asian and minority ethnic police officers in the force.
Advice and support is given to all candidates through regular advice sessions, as well mentoring to candidates from under-represented backgrounds through the ‘positive action’ scheme.
To book a place at the next insight event, on Tuesday 18 February, email the Positive Action Team on firstname.lastname@example.org.