Sgt Lucy Bearman is one of the stars of our police recruitment TV ad that launched in September 2020. Here, she tells us about her experiences as a police officer and why she’d encourage other women to join the police.
What made you want to become a police officer?
I initially started working for the police as a member of police staff when I was 18 years old. I was a service-desk assistant, but even from the reception desk, I saw first-hand what amazing work the police officers were doing and how Essex Police were like an extended family. I could see how much the officers loved their jobs and how helping others made such a difference to society and the community we live in. I wanted to be able to play a part in that picture.
What do you love most about your job?
The opportunity to experience things that you would never be able to try anywhere else! I’ve been up in the police helicopter, reunited people with their lost children, spent time with NYPD, been the shoulder to cry on for so many, waded out to sea to drag someone back in who was in distress, talked people down from trying to jump off of a tall building, gained skills in response and pursuit driving, became a Public Order Officer, been promoted to Inspector – the list is literally endless!
Any career highlights you can think of where you felt you'd made a real difference to someone's life?
There’s one little girl I will always remember. She was about 5 years old and had lived most of her life in a house where there was domestic abuse and violence. It had become so dangerous, I believe that both she and her mother would have been seriously injured if they’d stayed there. I took them to the police station and spent time trying to find them alternative accommodation to ensure their safety. I’ll never forget the look on that little girl’s face when we found her somewhere else to live – she looked at me with such happiness and love in her eyes and hugged me so tightly. She even brought a picture to the police station for me that she had drawn herself to say thank you – I always keep it in my paperwork tray as a reminder of her. I really felt that little girl had hope in her life for the very first time.
Have you ever felt that your gender has held you back in your police career?
No, I’ve genuinely found policing to be really open to whatever diverse background you come from.
What would you say are the main barriers that stop women from applying?
I sometimes experience 'imposter syndrome', which is where you don’t believe you’re good enough or you believe that you shouldn’t be where you are. I worry about that every single day. I think a lot of women suffer from that. So I think that the biggest barrier is the confidence - women need to understand that actually, your ability is there and you're able to do the job.
Some women worry they aren't physically strong enough - have you found this?
I was worried about the first fitness test but I've always been able to complete the training. On public order training, where you're in riot gear, we always hold the line together and go at the pace of the slowest person to make sure that the line is kept and the whole team is supporting each other.
What would you say to women who might worry that policing is more of a 'man's job'?
I’d say that I’ve never worked with any men who have made me feel inferior. In fact, all my male colleagues have done nothing but support me, and push me and champion me. A lot of the gender progression work that I am doing is around public order and trying to improve the number of women working in it. And it’s actually the male public order leaders who are pushing for that. So I’d say to women, don’t think policing is more for men - there’s actually so much support and guidance available.
Can you tell us a bit more about the gender progression projects you've been involved in?
I’ve worked with senior officers on under-representation days, to support female officers get promoted. I’ve also worked with the firearms command to try and increase women in firearms. And I’m currently working on the women’s leadership development forum – we help women where we can every day and we put on events for women to come and hear other inspirational women talk and help them understand that they can go higher if they want to.
What would you say to people thinking about joining the police?
If you want to be a police officer then do it! You’ll find the most amazing colleagues who become like family. The support and guidance you get from everyone, including supervisors and the support networks, is amazing and they’ll help you grow. It really doesn’t matter what gender you are, how tall you are, what background you’re from or who you are – as long as you care, can show empathy and have the drive to make a difference in the community, you’ll do the job amazingly.