British Transport Police: doing a job that makes a difference

British Transport Police has become the first police force to launch a part-time jobs campaign. workingmums.co.uk spoke to two mums who are already working part time as officers.

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The British Transport Police has just become the first UK police force to launch a proactive part-time jobs campaign. The aim is to broaden its talent pool by actively seeking people who might need or prefer to work less than a full-time week.

The force has in fact been promoting part-time roles for many years. Workingmums.co.uk spoke to two officers, both mums based in Cambridgeshire, who reduced their hours after having children.

Becky Griggs returned part time after having her son just over 18 months ago. She joined the British Transport Police in 2015 after working for the Metropolitan Police in community support and intelligence. Her partner is a police officer and works shifts. She has therefore negotiated set days for childcare reasons. Sometimes she has had to work late and miss bedtime, but that is rare as there is relief available, and she says that having that regular structure in place means she can balance a fulfilling job and parenthood.

Kay Swindlehurst has two daughters, aged nearly three and six and has been with the British Transport Police since 2012 after being a community support officer with the police force in Cheshire. She went back on 20 hours a week after having her first daughter. She says it was very easy to sort out the change in hours and she had a regular review to check the hours were working for her and for the force.

She now works 32 hours a week. Like Becky, her shifts are fixed because her partner also works shifts and the couple need some stability in order to organise childcare. “It wouldn’t work if we were both on changing shift patterns,” she says, adding that she would have had to leave if she couldn’t have fixed her work pattern. She can only recall very rare occasions where she couldn’t just leave a situation when her shift finished, for instance, when she was talking to a girl who was going through a mental health crisis.

Both women have not had to take lower paid jobs as a result of going part time. Both are on the top rate of pay for officers, having been in force for a while, meaning their salary is around £33K for 32 hours a week.

What does a BTP officer do?

Kay and Becky’s roles mean doing a bit of everything. They are both response officers, which means they spend a lot of their time responding to calls, for instance, incidents at railway stations, mainly in connection with people with mental health issues. Safeguarding, taking people into custody and interviewing them is a big part of their job.

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“We are out there on the frontline, getting our hands dirty,” says Kay. “We both still enjoy being on the frontline,” adds Becky. In fact they think becoming mums has helped them in their job. Kay says: “Being a mum has completely changed the way I police for the better.”

Becky agrees. She says a lot of their job these days is about dealing with people going through mental health crises and being a mum gives her better skills to be able to face up to those human issues.

They also have to deal with awful tragedies, particularly suicides, and having a busy home life provides the normality they need to handle it. Kay says financial problems have exacerbated the problem in the last year.

Both Kay and Becky are family liaison officers so they support families who have lost someone on the transport network. They say that being a mum also helps them speak sensitively to families, particularly where children have died, although it does hit home more. Such incidents are relatively rare, though.

Another part of their job is visiting schools to talk about rail safety, particularly in advance of the summer holidays or in schools where there are problems with young people trespassing on areas near railways.

Making a difference

Both Kay and Becky says they have no intention of moving from the British Transport Police and find the job very rewarding and flexible. Their chief constable is a woman who is very positive about flexible working for men and women and is very encouraging of women. “I feel we can really make a difference in this job and that’s why we do it,” says Kay.

Find out about the British Transport Police here. And look out for jobs here and check out this part-time role in London here. 



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