Aisha’s Journey in Policing: Celebrating Black History Month
Every October, as part of Black History Month (BHM), we celebrate the stories and experiences of Black individuals who have made their mark on history. With this year’s BHM theme being “Celebrating our Sisters”, we recently spoke with our colleague, Aisha Saliki, about her own journey as a Black woman working in policing, and the inspiring journey that brought her to where she is today.
Length of service: 13 years
Role: Force Vetting Officer
What attracted you to a career in policing?
My journey into policing was more serendipitous than intentional.
Coming from a media and journalism background, I had set my career aside for 23 years after moving to the UK. The transition to the UK was challenging, as my foreign qualifications limited job opportunities in Oxford. As I started a family, my priorities shifted.
In 2010, I landed a temporary role as an Administrative Assistant with the TVP Local Resilience Forum. This two-week placement kick-started my TVP adventure. A highlight from those early days was my involvement in preparations for the 2012 Olympic Games, where I had the chance to interact with professionals from various organisations and even attend planning meetings with the Chief Constables. It was during this time that I found my inspiration.
In August 2012, my temporary position transformed into a permanent one as a Station Duty Officer at the former Kidlington Police station. This role was ideal for me, given that it accommodated my childcare responsibilities. During my induction day, I was privileged to hear former Chief Constable Sarah Thornton speak about her journey as a woman in policing. Her words resonated with me and became a source of inspiration, reinforcing the belief that TVP was a great place to work, where anyone could achieve their dreams. I heeded her advice to connect with the Job Shop, a crucial resource for my career development.
Over the years, I took on various roles within TVP, from serving as a Forensic Exhibit Administrator to working as People Services Administrator for Police Officer Recruitment at HQ North. My unwavering determination and commitment to learning eventually led me to my current role as a Force Vetting Officer, overseeing the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.
How does it feel to work in policing as a Black woman?
My journey has been marked by both highs and lows. A few years ago, there were few Black women at HQ South for me to identify with as role models. This lack of representation sometimes led to assumptions, like being asked about cleaning supplies or spillages. I worked as the only Black person in my various departments until four years ago when another Black lady joined my current department. Joining TVP’s Support Association for Minority Ethnic Staff (SAME) was a positive step for me, fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment. Since then, things have progressed at TVP, with more and more women of Black heritage being encouraged to join policing, with inspiring stories of colleagues such as Detective Yvonne Newman or Inspector Nicola Hamblin, and with the development of our force’s Race Action Plan, aimed at improving the trust and confidence of our diverse communities, especially our Black communities, and of our own workforce, and address any racial disparities in the service.
Why is Black History Month important to you?
Black History Month is significant to me on a personal level and within the context of policing. It serves as a reminder of our heritage, acknowledging both the injustices of the past, and the potential for a brighter future. While we cannot forget the racism, segregation, and oppression that marked history, we must work towards a future where merit, not colour, race, or gender, defines one’s opportunities.
Our efforts today to address workplace imbalances and societal inequalities lay the foundation for a better tomorrow. Black history is a testament to the perseverance, achievements, and resilience of our ancestors, and it is our responsibility to build on their legacy.
As I celebrate Black History Month, I carry with me the hope that the next generation will have fewer battles to fight when it comes to race issues. We must work collectively to ensure a future where injustice, inequality, and oppression are consigned to history. It is a future where our children and their children can gather in unity to celebrate success and progress.
Together, we can make a difference, and as we honour the past, we build a better future.
What message would you give to others considering policing as a career?
I want to emphasise that TVP is a place of opportunity and personal growth. Throughout my journey, I have encountered remarkable individuals and embraced a variety of roles. The force offers a vast array of career paths for officers, staff, and IT professionals, allowing you to start young and retire with the organisation.
Embrace the passion that drives you and remember that diversity strengthens our community. It is essential that the police are seen as actively involved in marginalised communities and committed to positive change.
Feeling inspired by Aisha’s and want to learn more about the career opportunities available at TVP?