PCSO Brandan Charles makes a difference… could you?

PCSO Brandan Charles makes a difference… could you?

PCSO Brandan Charles

Hello, I am PCSO Brandan Charles and I work in Reading.

Let me tell you how my passion for policing started…

I never really had much interest in joining the police growing up, it wasn’t until I joined a security job about 4 years ago that the idea started to grow on me. I had contact with the police as part of my job and spoke about the possibility of joining the police with various PCSOs – I realised that this could be something I would really enjoy doing.

I always admired the professionalism of our local PCSOs, seeing them out in the town, in their uniforms, engaging with their communities – I felt confident I could do it.

Once I decided to join the police…

I discussed my desire to join the police with my family and close friends, and they were very supportive. There were some that were not thrilled about me joining, I put this down to misconceptions.

Like all PCSOs, I started my training at TVP’s Sulhamstead Training Centre. I was the only person in my cohort from a minority group; my background is half-Caribbean and half British, but I did not see it as an issue and nor did my peers. I know the force is working hard to increase its diversity, so I am glad to be part of the change.

Training complete I started my first shift at TVP Reading and felt welcomed with open arms. I never felt out of place, and I have had the chance to work with some interesting and nice people who have never treated me any differently. Being born and raised in Reading, I know the area very well, and this gives me an advantage in my role as a PCSO.

My journey as a PCSO so far…

From good moments to difficult moments, not one day has been the same – this is why policing as a career is exciting. In my first year as a PCSO, I gathered a few memories that have stayed with me.

A year ago, while I was on duty, I came to the rescue of a victim who was being chased during a knifepoint robbery. I did not realise until I managed to provide support that I knew the victim. The victim was a member of our black community, and it made me feel really good that I was able to make a connection and help. Minority communities can sometimes have a negative perception of the police, especially if you are a black officer within the job as well, there have been times when I have been called a traitor for joining. With this incident, I felt I did something good for someone in my community, someone who may have previously perceived the police in a negative light. Because of this situation, I was able to change their opinion. The victim thanked me for the support I have provided, their words “I owe my life to you for what you did” will stay with me for a long time.

In a policing career, you make a difference every single day just by showing up, by talking to someone; even the slightest interaction can make a huge difference.

There were a couple more instances that have stayed with me, which involved interactions with members of the public. Most interactions with members of the public are good, but there are occasions when they are not, and we always have to deal with the unexpected.

From being told to “go back to my country” (I was born in the UK) to threats, while interacting with the public, sometimes you can be discriminated against, not directly, but sometimes indirectly, and you know that is just for doing your job.

Throughout these unfortunate situations, my colleagues and my Sergeant and Inspector have been extraordinary, making sure I was alright and checking my welfare.

I knew the job demands being a bit more thick – skinned and having resilience. For police members from under-represented groups, I sometimes feel like we have to be even more so.

Why should you consider a career in policing?

As a PCSO who has had an exceptional first year, I can tell you that a career in policing can be very rewarding. Like in any job, there are frustrating moments, but this job allows you to really make a difference. Policing is for people who want to get out and about and really find out what is going on within their community, and showing up for the people that really need us. Even if you think that a career in policing is not for you, I encourage you to look into it, you could be surprised.

For people from ethnic backgrounds, my advice would be, if you want to see change, become part of the change. This is something I have stuck by, especially by joining the job, and this is why I enjoy it. Sometimes I feel that the younger generation may not have a good opinion about the police and do not trust the police, without actually having any contact with them. There are many factors that could contribute to these opinions, occasionally it will be lived experience but other times it’s down to discussions with family, friends, movies and even social media.

As representatives of the police, whatever job role we have, our duty is to treat people right when they have interactions us, and this is how I like to police. If we interact with someone who has never dealt with the police before, and that first interaction is negative, that will be their perception of the police going forward and it’s hard to change that mindset.

My first year with TVP has been really good, and I hope I will have more moments in the future when I will be able to provide help, and know that I’ve helped and made that difference. This is a career I am definitely in for the long run.

If you have been inspired by Brandan’s story and think you could make a difference, helping to keep our communities safe, please consider becoming a PCSO or Police Officer with Thames Valley Police.

For those from under-represented groups considering a career in policing, support and advice can be given from our Positive Action and Engagement Team. Find out more about how we are Valuing Difference.