Female officers on the frontline of policing, helping some of the most vulnerable people in communities are featured in a new documentary series. Laura Drysdale reports.
They spend much of their working life seeing people at their worst and for police officers on the frontline, dealing with traumatic incidents forms part of the day-to-day.
A lot of the work involves dealing with vulnerable people. It is not unusual for teams across the force to be faced with domestic violence incidents, worried parents whose children are missing, young people at risk of being groomed, families who have lost loved ones and people in suicidal crisis.
Such difficult situations can leave emotional marks. “I do find it tough,” says PC Colette Hindle, a patrol officer in Calderdale, also featured on the show.
“There’s been sad situations where somebody is quite desperate and it is cry for help to ring the police.
"When you find them or speak to them, you have got to appreciate that they are very low. You have got to have a really caring side and be able to listen and comfort them, try to reassure them and also make them safe.”
The Shift: Women on the Force also highlights life outside of work for women across all levels of the police, offering insight into how the job can affect their personal lives and loved ones.
It is something 40-year-old PC Hindle knows all too well. Her ex-husband was also part of the police and when their daughter Gabriela, now 11, was young, their shift patterns meant they had little time together.
“I would be on early and he was on nights,” the Todmorden-based officer says. “As you can imagine, if you are a couple, it puts a strain on you. ‘Normal’ couples have a routine. They go to bed at the same time, they can do things together on an evening and weekend.
“For me and my ex-husband, we didn’t really have many days off together and we grew apart really. Our daughter was our priority. She was young and the main thing was making sure someone was at home.”
The six-part series by UKTV will explore the challenges that women working at West Yorkshire Police face in their day-to-day roles, while offering insight into how the demanding job impacts their personal lives and their loved ones as well as their own mental health.
Chief Constable Dee Collins said: “From a service that has in the past been portrayed as male-dominated and masculine, we’ve seen a sea change and today some the UK’s most high-profile senior police officers are women. But clearly we need to be enabling more women to fulfil their careers in policing.
“Inclusion is really important to West Yorkshire Police and a vital ingredient for the future policing of our communities and I am really keen to build a more diverse workforce.”
What makes this programme different?
Helen Nightingale, senior commissioning editor at UKTV, said: “We hope this ground-breaking documentary series really makes you stop and think about the people behind the uniform.
“Each episode offers a rare insight into the incredible challenges these brave officers face every single day, and how the intensity of their job can have a significant impact not only on themselves but on their loved ones too.
“An entire series exploring policing through the eyes of women on the force hasn’t been done before and it really offers a unique perspective.
“These inspiring women put themselves in danger at the frontline, fighting to ensure all of our safety, and it’s often a thankless job that people take for granted. We hope this shines a light on all the hard work they do both on the streets of West Yorkshire and behind the scenes to keep us all safe.”
Six-part series The Shift: Women on The Force, will air on Fridays at 10pm on UKTV’s W Channel, starting on March 15.