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Behind the Badge: PC Joanna Hotson who works to improve engagement with young people in Harrow

Throughout the year, Harrow Online has been working with Met Police to bring you ‘Behind the Badge’ – a great way to learn more about the local police force in the borough. 

In the ‘Behind the Badge’ for September, we speak with PC Joanna Hotson who is a former Safer Schools officer in Harrow and works to improve engagement with young people in the area.


What is your role?

I have just started a new role as an engagement and diversion officer for the Violence and Gang Co-Ordination hub, prior to this I have been a schools officer.

 

Why did you become a police officer?

This is a tough question… I completed a degree and masters degree in law and went off to law school to become an employment lawyer. After two weeks, I decided It really wasn’t for me and left.  I wanted to do a job which was law-related, but where I could really help people so I applied to join the Met and I have been here ever since.

 

What are the difficult things in your job that the public may not realise?

Working with young people I get to see the effects that an encounter with a police officer has on them, some feeling stereotyped and targeted, some feeling annoyed that their day has been disrupted and some saying that their experience was actually a humorous/ nice encounter (which is always good to hear). I think that it’s difficult to get the balance right with an encounter with young people on the streets, and it is difficult when the public surround you and start filming and they don’t know all the facts. One thing I have learnt is that a smile always helps and reassures the public that you are a kind human. Being calm is the most important thing to help young people relax during a police encounter.

 

What are the most rewarding aspects of your job?

Being able to make a difference to young peoples’ lives. Being able to form relationships not only with the young person but also the family. It makes me feel proud when parents trust me to support them and help the young person to get free from criminality.

 

What advice would you give to people thinking of joining the Met?

Be prepared to be challenged. Maintain humility and always be kind.

 

One more thing about me…

I have recently been learning British Sign Language at City Lit, which is a course run by the Met. I am hoping to continue with this to be able to become a deaf interpreter for the Met. It has been very interesting to learn another language but also learn about deaf culture.