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My story – Response Sergeant Sandy Scott

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As part of our celebrations around Pride, Sandy Scott gives an insight into her job as a Response Sergeant and her experience as part of the LGBT+ community at NYP

I’m currently a Response Sergeant, one of three on my Band covering York. I describe myself as a Response “lifer” because I’ve done this job ever since I joined.

One of the reasons I love the role is the people. They are some of the best cops that I know. In Response you face a lot of challenges and you have to be able to turn your hand to whatever comes up on a shift. Response cops need to think on their feet and be resilient.

Also I like the fact that every day is different. You’ve got no idea of what’s around the corner. Every day is a “school” day because you’re always learning. You share knowledge between you and there’s not a day goes by when you don’t find out something new.

Response Sergeant Sandra Scott on duty in York

So if I’m on “earlies” (early shift) it’s a case of crawling out of bed and getting in to take a handover from the off-going Sergeant, so I can get everything prepped for my team briefing at 7am. I supervise six or seven cops and at the briefing I make my team aware of the priorities for the day, share any emerging issues, and find out what their commitments are. I have to look at the demands – like have we got cell-watches or any hospital bed-watches, do we need any scene-guards, or have there been any serious incidents overnight that I need to get replacement cops out to.

Then it’s about getting the day going, analysing any issues from the past few days that need to be handled and managing any emerging issues.   Each morning the force holds Daily Management Meetings that as Duty Sergeant, I need to attend to discuss serious issues that affect the force. Then I’ll be monitoring the jobs that come in, making sure we’ve got enough resources to cover everything, and dealing with any problems. Sometimes, if a serious incident comes in and I’m the only Sergeant on shift, I’ll go out to the job myself. You can find yourself doing pretty much anything – and that’s what I love.

As a Sergeant, I have to think about the welfare of the team, as well as the welfare of people on the street – we really look after one another. You need a lot of compassion on this job.

I would say the most challenging thing I have to face is myself! I wouldn’t describe myself as the most naturally confident person, but for me, if there is something I’m struggling with, I’ll tackle it head on rather than give in to it. Having the confidence to put myself up for the job in the first place – and then for promotion to Sergeant – was a bit of a mental hurdle, but I saw it as an opportunity to test myself. Now I’m a Sergeant, and I’ve developed the confidence to take decisions based on the information I’ve got, and then back myself. You have to be decisive – you don’t have time not to be!

It’s a test every single day and yes, sometimes you go home and mull over the decisions you’ve taken, but you have to learn to manage that.

What makes the job worthwhile for me is seeing the difference that you and your team can make in somebody’s life, which is very special. Sometimes we receive emails from vulnerable people saying thank you for the way we’ve dealt with them and their situation – for taking the time, treating people as human beings and not judging.

I enjoy the shifts, the camaraderie on the team, and the “being in at the deep end” aspect that you get when you’re on frontline Response. I also enjoy some of the other things I do in policing like being Deputy Co-Chair of the LGBT Network, and co-Chairing the national Bi-Visibility working group. Taking part in those other activities keeps everything fresh, and gives me a broader perspective on things

My advice for people who are thinking of joining the police is that if you’re wanting something that you don’t have to put a whole lot of effort into, then it’s not the job for you. Policing is a job that is mentally and physically challenging, but if you’ve got the desire and you’re willing to put in the work, it is really rewarding and there are opportunities to grow and diversify within the Force.

I’m part of the LGBT community, and once upon a time the police were seen as the enemy, but now it is a lot better than it was. Now we embrace the LBGT community and welcome people in through our doors.

I personally haven’t experienced any direct discrimination or anything adverse because of being part of the LGBT community.  Sometimes you hear the odd comment that makes you think, but you don’t know that person’s background and experience.  So for me it’s an opportunity to have a conversation and share perspectives.  Many of us really only have familiarity with our own background, so talking to people from different backgrounds is a good learning experience and one that I enjoy.

I think the level of support for different communities within the Force has come on in leaps and bounds. We have a Positive Action programme and we have the LGBT Network, as well as other Networks. We need to keep working to raise awareness, and there are still conversations to be had to make sure the Force is as inclusive as possible, but it is definitely heading in the right direction.

Last modified: June 7, 2019