Laura Spence

Response Unit Officer
• Cardiff, Wales
Laura and dog - Behind the Uniform

“I got a mixed reaction when I said I was going to be a police officer”

It’s all about how you treat people; building a rapport and even having a laugh at the right moments. When I put on my uniform, I’m still a human being – I’m still me – and I like to speak to people like I speak to members of my family.

Looking back, I got a mixed reaction when I said I was going to be a police officer. A few people distanced themselves and it was probably for the better – they weren’t all the cleanest of characters. Was it a dilemma? Not really, it was all about doing the job I’d dreamt of.

At University, where I studied Police Science, it could be frustrating at times. Other people were out enjoying themselves and getting up to all sorts, while I had to be much more sensible because of the subject I was studying and the career I wanted to have.

In some ways the job does have an impact on life outside work. If I’m out socially at the pub and someone has had too much to drink, you hear the comment ‘watch out, she’s a copper she is’. When that happens, you see the pub turning and looking at you.  That’s my signal to go home, it’s just not worth it, I’m not out to spoil anyone’s night.

I started as a Special Constable – a voluntary, unpaid role – while still at Uni and went on to become a PCSO (Police Community Support Officer). You have no power at all as a PCSO, so to get anywhere you have to learn to speak to people.  My partner, a paramedic, says the same – it is all about communicating in the right way with people when they need you most.

“I’m not out to spoil anyone’s night”

I’ve been doing this since I was 21 years old with the last 6 years on the Response team. Going to domestics, trying to sort their problems out, they’re likely much older than me and often I’m seeing the same families, the same people.  I’m thinking, ‘how am I having to tell you in your 50s how to behave?’

They tell us in training that if we’re dealing with angry people, not to be ‘up there’ with them. Start low and ‘go up’ if you need to. Talk them down, have a nice tone without shouting, calm things down.

It doesn’t always work. I’ve been punched in the face and had my nose broken by a bloke who’d drunk too much.  I’ve even had to TASER someone trying to throw a microwave oven at me. But what worries me most is people claiming we are bullies or, even worse, racist. We need to work harder to understand why people think that and do everything we can to change it.

Policing is very different these days, you get people recording you on their mobiles, getting half the story. I always say, ‘that’s ok, I’ve been recording with my Body Worn Camera from the start, so we can all be clear on what’s happened’. Because of all the footage now available, malicious complaints have been knocked on the head. It’s all there to see. It’s simple really, all we want is to treat people fairly and to be treated fairly in return.

Hear Laura's views on

The microwave incident
Laura in Uniform - Behind The Uniform
Laura and kettle - Behind the Uniform
Laura at home - Behind the Uniform
Laura and Jess - Behind the Uniform

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