Realising her potential – Police Sergeant Natasha Gidda, Prisoner Handling Unit
Years in service: 13 years
We’ve recently spoken with Police Sergeant Natasha Gidda in our Prisoner Handling Unit about about how she is realising her potential at Thames Valley Police.
Is this the path you always expected to take in your career?
It isn’t exactly what I thought I might do, but it’s turned out to be the right thing for me. Looking back at my work in policing, my knowledge, strategically at what I can do and the potential I’ve got, I feel in a great position and ready to take on the next steps in my career. I have a really good line management and senior support, who believe in me and give me that push to realise my potential. Also, coming from an ethnic minority, I want to be that visible person, that drives and encourages others towards policing as a career.
As a Sergeant on the Prisoner Handling Unit, it’s about managing the new officers, but also managing their expectations about the role, the force and what to expect. The types of projects I’ve been working on recently with my teams have been detecting assaults on our officers, violence against women and girls, domestic abuse, working hard to get better outcomes.
How do you feel you have been realising your career in policing?
From the beginning I’ve felt encouraged to achieve my potential in policing. I started as a Police Constable, then moved on to become a Detective. Whilst I was working towards becoming a Detective, I did some extra study, TVP part-funded a Degree in Police Studies, and then I went on to do a Criminology Hons Degree. Simultaneously I was doing the Investigator’s exam. l did that as a young mum – so it is possible. I became a Detective and then my Sergeant and DCI encouraged me to sit my Sergeant’s exam which I passed, and got promoted, going to work as a Sergeant on ICR Slough and custody Maidenhead and Reading for 12 years, and now in the Prisoner Handling Unit in Reading.
Custody might sound challenging for many, but it’s probably one of the jobs that I’ve really enjoyed. You work with Detention Officers, colleagues of different ranks, and no two days are the same. You can coach other officers as well from different LPAs.
I have always been supported in TVP, from a professional and personal point of view. It’s a nice career. I’m also a member of our Support Association for Minority Ethnic staff (SAME) and TVP’s Women Network; currently I’m a member, but in the future, I’d like to be more active.
What do you think about the range of opportunities that are available in policing?
There are so many opportunities and that’s the good thing about policing. You don’t have to stay in one role, you have the opportunity to move around, mix it up and see what you want.
Policing is a really hard job, but TVP invest in you. I wanted to do a degree, but needed support and funding, and I got it from my force. If I wanted to do an exam, or attend a course, I just had to speak with my line manager and would get that support. And that’s constant with TVP. I’ve done a Positive Action Learning Set (PALS) programme, the Women Development Programme, and now I’m looking at a strategic management programme for which I’ll be eligible soon. You can always learn and develop yourself, regarding of experience or rank, you miss out if you don’t.
What are your ambitions for your career now?
My boss always says to me: “If you want to be an LPA (Local Policing Area) Commander, Superintendent, speak out and don’t lack confidence, if that’s what you want don’t be afraid to say it.” My aim is to become a Chief Inspector. I don’t want to jump from one job to another, I want to have that learning time that each job offers. As a working mum of a 9-year-old now, life outside work can be busy, so I like my roles to have structure, I do feel they suit me better and give me that work-life balance I need.
I’ve recently been successful in an interview with a four-year programme to go from Sergeant to Chief Inspector within a four-year period. So, the aim now is to take my Inspector’s exam, complete that process and then hopefully step up to come become a Chief Inspector and that’s good news for me, I’d feel quite proud of this achievement.
Is there anything you wish someone would have told you at the beginning of your career in policing?
Sometimes policing can be tough. Stressful situations at work, for example working on a case, or taking cases to court as a Detective. I wish someone would have told me in those moments: “this will be the making of you, you’re going to get through it, you’re going to come out the other side, keep going, it’s not over.” As police officers, we put all of ourselves to bring justice, we immerse ourselves into the work, and we sometimes forget to take a moment and reflect, realise we’ll make it the other end. Wish I’d had this piece of advice from the beginning of my career.
What do you love most about your job?
I like the social aspect of policing, working with people, either with my colleagues or with the public. I like working with teams, leading teams, and achieving good results together.
As a leader, I enjoy seeing my team grow, making their own decisions guided by their acquired knowledge. Most importantly for me, I like helping officers progress.
What would you say to people considering policing?
It is a career for the long run, enjoy it! As a newcomer, you come through the door and want to be respected by your peers, and you want to gain camaraderie and recognition for your work. That’s all really nice, but actually if you’re really good, really authentic with people, and you really want to learn, that will go a long way. There are so many opportunities, I encourage people to get their foundation first, always be authentic, be true to you, don’t just follow the crowd.
Policing needs difference because if we just have the same type of people joining policing, we’re not going to progress. Different background bring different perspectives.
Lastly, you always learn in policing, don’t feel like you need to know everything, just be willing to learn throughout your policing career, have this mind-set from the get-go.
Thames Valley Police (TVP) is actively looking for people to be the difference they want to see in their communities. To find out more about a policing career with TVP – including the realities of working on response, initial training, and to apply to become a Police Officer please visit our Police Officer page