Michael Wallace is a police officer with the Metropolitan Police Service, or “the Met”. Having grown up within a Christian family in London, he now works in the borough of Barnet as a Safer Schools Officer. For Michael, the satisfaction of being an officer comes from being out and about in the local area, talking to people and building relationships. “Presence is a big thing,” he says. “You have to be out there, in the community, especially with my role, working with young people. They have to see you to be in touch with you.”
Building bridges every day
Police officers are the face of the Met, working out on the frontline every day. People such as PC Wallace use their skills and background not just to protect the capital, but to connect with Londoners and the many diverse communities they serve. It is an element of the job that PC Wallace enjoys and takes great pride in. But as a young man, his future as a Met Officer was by no means certain. “When I was growing up, there was a lot of negativity surrounding the police, what with the Brixton Riots and so forth. But I looked beyond that and was always interested because of the challenges. There are a lot of barriers that have been broken down over the years and I am so proud to be able to build those bridges. It makes my family proud to know that I’m part of an organisation that’s trying to do something positive.”
Policing an increasingly diverse city
London is a vibrant, multi-cultural city that’s home to more than eight million people, who between them speak more than 300 different languages. This level of diversity is only set to increase. It’s predicted that by 2020, 50 per cent of London’s population will be from black and minority ethnic communities. It’s therefore critical that the Met has a diverse workforce which reflects the city it serves — people who are part of this population and can build links within it. PC Wallace recognises the importance of this and believes efforts that police in his borough have made to work with the local community have been a success. “Barnet is a very diverse borough because of the make-up of different communities,” he says. “It’s really important to touch in with them and try and work with them. Not so long ago, we opened up our doors at Colindale so that all the communities could come in and see how the police work.”
“I think that’s a good thing, a way of breaking down barriers. I think that preventative role, working in the community, is very much a success.”
A police officer’s role
All Met police officers are expected to support victims and witnesses, providing reassurance and instilling confidence. They patrol day and night, help vulnerable people, are often first at the scene of an incident and give guidance and protection to those who need it most. In short, it is varied, fulfilling and challenging work — but it is not for everyone.
A wealth of career options
For those who have what it takes, becoming a police officer is immensely rewarding, with the Met saying those who show commitment, resilience and integrity, “could look forward to a career that really is as unique as London itself”. With an organisation so vast, with so many different teams and divisions, the options for career development are wide and varied. So what would PC Wallace say to anyone else thinking of joining? “I would certainly recommend the Met Police,” he says. “I have recommended friends, who are now in the Service themselves, and I would say it gives you opportunities that maybe no other workforce can give you.”
Could you be an officer?
If you think you have got what it takes to become a police officer, and you want to join a world-class organisation where being you means being able to reduce crime and the fear of crime, register online at www.metpolicecareers.co.uk/newconstable where you can also hear more about PC Michael Wallace’s story.
Applying to join the Met
All new Met Police recruits must have obtained the Certificate in Knowledge of Policing (CKP) before they start training. Undertaking the CKP requires an investment of time and money. You can find out more about the CKP on the Met’s website.