Juggling a career with family life is not always easy – but PC Emma Gray Da Silva believes her new job will help her achieve the right balance.
The 33-year-old is among Nottinghamshire Police’s newest recruits and her shifts allow for quality time to be spent with her husband, Vitor, and their three-year old daughter, Livia.
“I’ve got two day shifts (7am-4pm), which means I’m around in the evenings,” Emma said. “Then I have two afternoon shifts (3pm start) which gives me the mornings and lunchtime. And then there’s two night shifts which start at 10pm – I’ll need some sleep after those but then I’ve got all evening free.
“And after that run of shifts, I get four days off.”
With the help of husband Vitor who also works shifts as a lorry driver and the support of family members, Emma is managing to pursue her dreams of being a mum and a police officer.
Now, the apprentice constable is encouraging other mums who want a career to consider policing as a viable option.
“It is possible to balance being a parent with a full-time job,” she said. “You need help and support from your family and thankfully I have that. If you’ve got the support, policing is definitely something mums could look at as a career option.
“I was speaking to one officer who changed from Response and became a neighbourhood officer, as working on Response didn’t fit in with his family life. He said being on the neighbourhood team is much better for him. That shows the force does care about officers and will do what it can to ensure they can maintain a decent work-life balance.”
It has been just over a year since Emma enrolled onto the force’s Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship programme, which involves on and off-the-job learning.
Following a year of training and studying, she recently passed out as an apprentice constable and is now gaining experience in various police departments, such as Public Protection and the Prisoner Handling Team.
In two years’ time, she’ll be a fully-fledged police officer.
“I’m so glad I’ve joined,” she said. “So far I’ve loved it. I loved training school. We started in West Bridgford and then came to the new training school that’s just opened at force headquarters. We’ve had really good trainers. As well as learning about legislation there’s a lot of role plays and learning how to use your radios. We’ve had a lot of guest speakers as well, so it’s really varied.”
It is exactly the kind of role Emma, who previously spent 15 years in the travel sector, had been looking for.
“For me, being a stay-at-home mum just isn’t an option,” she said. “I found maternity leave quite boring. Then Covid struck and I was on furlough. It just made me think I need more in my life – I need a job that I feel passionately about. That’s what I have so I’m really happy.”
By joining the police, Emma said she had fulfilled an ambition she’s had since her teenage years.
“I was a Special Constable for a short time when I was 18 or 19. That cemented my interest in joining the police but it also made me feel that, at that time and at that age, I perhaps needed more life experience. Then I got to this age and I thought, I’ve been through a break-up and I’m married now with a daughter. I’ve got more life experience and I’ve been through some difficult times, so I feel more ready to be a police officer now.
“Also, my husband is Portuguese and not many of his family speak English, so it was a bit daunting for me whenever we went over to visit them. I’ve had to learn a fair bit of the language to get by when I’m over there and I think that’s improved my confidence a lot, which you need in policing.
“I’m really excited about getting out there now and serving local communities.”
Emma’s arrival comes at a time when officer ranks at Nottinghamshire Police are at their highest numbers for 11 years.
The force reached 2,380 officers by March 2022 – meaning it met its Uplift target a year early.
The ranks haven’t been this high since March 2011 when there were 2,362 officers serving the county.
Whilst undertaking this huge increase of officers, the force has continued to drive down crime, with rates still below those recorded in 2019 (pre-Covid).
The reduction continues as a result of the work done to bolster neighbourhoods and specialist teams. The force has uplifted all of its 12 dedicated Operation Reacher teams and knife crime teams, which have continued to make a big difference.
Operation Uplift has also seen the force make great strides in becoming more representative of the community it serves, with the Home Office commending Nottinghamshire Police after figures revealed the force had recruited a greater proportion of officers from black and minority ethnic backgrounds than any other force in England and Wales.
The increase was achieved through a campaign of engagement with different parts of the community, not just those of different faiths and ethnicities, but also across the local public sector, to raise awareness of the opportunity to apply.
Furthermore, the force now has more female officers than ever before. A total of 35 per cent of police officers in Nottinghamshire are now women – up from 32 per cent in March 2020 with most new intakes seeing a near 50/50 split.
Anyone interested in a career with Nottinghamshire Police is urged to look out for opportunities and further information on our website: Nottinghamshire Police Careers | Nottinghamshire Police