Police Constable Bharat Narbad, who received the Queen’s Police Medal for Distinguished Service in 2019, has been part of South Wales Police for over 20 years. He’s also been chair of the South Wales Black Police Association for 10 years. Here he tells us why he joined the police, how his Hindu faith has helped him in policing and why he’d urge other people from different backgrounds to apply.
What inspired you to become a police officer?
I worked for 10 years in banking which I didn’t find that exciting. It was 9 to 5, Monday to Friday, and I knew what each day would bring. I wanted something different and in the mid-90s there were a lot of things going on in the media around diversity in policing. I thought ‘that’s not right, let’s have a look from the inside about what I can do’.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
You get to meet lots of different people that you wouldn’t meet in any other job. The variety of the job is also fantastic. Each shift is different. You don’t know whether you’ll be dealing with a shoplifter, a burglary or be the first person at a murder scene.
What I enjoy is trying to get people from minority ethnic groups into the police and seeing our workforce change. I started this role about four years ago, when we were low in numbers of police officers who looked like me. However, in the space a couple of years - with all the work we’ve done – the look of the police force in South Wales is changing. It’s nice to know I’m making a difference.
Any career highlights where you feel you made a real difference to someone’s life?
I’ve been policing now for 23 years and there’s been lots of highlights. I would say helping victims of domestic abuse – that’s always heartening and worthwhile. If you see someone who you know is guilty be convicted, that’s always a result. I’m also the chair of the South Wales Black Police Association, which does a lot of work in the community. And, of course, I was proud when I was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal. It was nice to see the community were appreciative of the things that I’d done.
How does your faith help you in policing?
Hinduism is all about peace, looking after your fellow person and doing good. You can’t get a better job than being in the police for that. Every year in Cardiff there are a couple of Diwali festivals and I’ve been able to get some of our chief officers to celebrate it with me, which helps the force recognise people from the Hindu community.
Have you ever felt your faith held you back in any way?
No, not at all. The police service has changed, and we’re open to people’s religious needs. You’re given time to pray and all the big stations have quiet rooms which can be used as prayer rooms. I know some of my Sikh friends and Muslim colleagues ask about the uniform. People ask ‘can I wear my turban?’ and I show them the uniforms that we have for people of different faiths.
What did your family and friends think of you joining the police?
My mum was very proud when I joined. My brothers were a bit more concerned about the racial aspects of what would happen if I joined, but my answer was ‘you’re not going to make a difference by doing nothing’. I joined and I was able to allay a lot of their fears.
Have they changed their opinion now?
Yes. I have a direct line to the chief officers where I discuss any issues that come up. Let’s face it, racism shows its face within every organisation, but in the police we have the support networks in place to help.
How do you see your career in policing progressing?
Diversity has always been my passion and my current role is perfectly aligned to that, so I like to think I’ll carry on recruiting people to better represent the communities we serve. In my role, we carry out upskilling sessions where I act as a mentor and development champion, helping people practise situational judgement tests and develop their interview skills. There’s nothing greater than watching them progress from when they first showed an interest in joining the police to the ultimate reward – seeing them in a uniform at their passing-out parade.
Things have been a bit different this year, how will you be celebrating Diwali?
Everything is going online as you’d expect. This year, one of the Diwali festivals in Cardiff is running a few days with some guest speakers and storytelling. Diwali is the festival of light. It’s about victory of light over darkness and I think of policing like that too – we’re there to bring light to people during their darkest times.
What would be your advice to someone considering joining?
Go for it! There’s no other job where there’s so much variety – as a police officer, every day is different. Not only that, but once you’ve done your two years you can apply for different roles, such as an investigator in the Criminal Investigation Department. If driving cars is your thing, then you can join the traffic team. If you enjoy training, you can be a trainer. You’ve got the dog section, horse section, cyber-crime section – what other job gives you such variety?