Emily, 23, joined the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) Force Contact Centre in May 2021 as a call handler. She took a short break to go on maternity leave and returned about a month ago raring to get back to doing what she loves.
Emily, what inspired you to join GMP’s force contact centre? "Ever since I was little, I’d watched CSI with my mum and my grandma and it was one of the only things that would keep me entertained. I did criminology at Nottingham Trent university and even while I knew I didn’t want to be a police officer, I’d always wanted to do something that was related to policing.
"I finished university and saw the call handler job advertised at GMP and just went for it."
What do you do on a daily basis? "A lot of the procedures can become very routine but the day itself is so varied. My day is spent taking emergency 999 and non-emergency 101 calls but no two calls are ever the same."
What training did you receive? "I had 6 weeks at Sedgley Park, which was half virtual and half in-person because it was taking place during Covid. This was followed by 6 weeks mentoring, which is where you sit with someone else who is already on the job, watch what they do and listen to what they say. I actually took a call on my first day which was daunting at first but it’s the best way – you can listen to all the calls in the world but the second you pick up that phone you’ll get something you’ve never even heard of before.
"Ultimately, your mentor will teach you more than the training ever could. It’s the best part of the learning process."
What’s the most challenging part of the job "Sometimes it’s hard to know where to direct a call but you’re surrounded by people who will lend a hand. A lot of the calls we deal with as well are mental health related which is challenging as because its often that there’s no crime committed here, you’re just trying to send in the right people to save someone’s life."
How important are people skills in your role? "You need to know from job-to-job how to approach the person on the phone and get what you need out of them. If you get a call that’s mental health related, you often have to speak to them like you’re just having a chat. You’ll contact the ambulance but in the meantime it’s just you trying to keep that person on the phone and keep them engaged until the ambulance gets there."
Do you always know the outcome of the calls you respond to? "There’s a lot of them where you don’t know what’s happened. It’s frustrating but I always try to think that if I didn’t work in this job, I wouldn’t have known about it anyway. I have to try and see it as I’ve done my bit in sending the emergency services and from there it’s out of my hands."
What’s the best thing about the job? "It’s so hard to choose because I just love my job. I couldn’t wait to come back after maternity leave. It’s really rewarding especially because so many people end the call by saying thank you. You’re the one who starts the ball rolling – if it weren’t for you filling out that log and telling the police what’s happened, that person wouldn’t have been arrested or someone would have lost their life."
What advice would you give someone thinking of becoming a call handler? "100% do it – it’s the best job I could ever have asked for. And just enjoy it – I forget I’m at work sometimes because I’m helping someone and there’s nothing like the adrenaline you get off taking those tough calls."
What did you learn about yourself as a call handler? "I’ve started taking on more outside this job which I never would have done before. My partner and his parents own a football club and I’m now discipline officer there, so I’ve found in myself that I like taking on strong roles. I’ve come out of my shell so much – before I started, I really struggled with anxiety and wouldn’t even go to Asda by myself. Your confidence grows massively, and you find skills within yourself that you didn’t know you had."