I joined Wiltshire Police at the age of 16 as part of a Youth Training Scheme, starting in courts referral. My next step took me into our Devizes 24/7 Crime and Communications Centre where I've worked off and on for some 20 years, including a career break to have a family and some part time working on 101 crime incident reporting
In 2008, I got involved in an IT project, which brought me into the airwave and radio arena, working on projects to refresh equipment and technology, which, fortunately for me, became a full time permanent role as Airwave Operations Manager in 2010.
Airwave is a national system used by the emergency services, military, highways and other frontline services. It's a key channel used as primary form of communication within and across police forces, including emergency call buttons, and automatic updates to and from the command and control system detailing locations and GPS tracking information.
I look after the custodian side of things; security and safekeeping, auditing our 2,000 radios - handhold, in vehicle and desktop - giving frontline officers the tools they need to do their jobs safely.
I'm really pleased about the changes coming in, offering us the opportunity to improve the wraparound 24/7 support we can provide - policing doesn't just finish at 5 o'clock!
It will mean we can give more focus on the areas we need to, move away from an IT 'jack of all trades' culture and offer better quality and consistency of our support services. The core tech system is incredibly complex and it all needs to work together; the way the radios work in terms of different modes of communication, you've only got to get one little bit go wrong...
All the systems give our contact centre operators a big picture of who they have available, where they are and if the right person is in in the right place at the right time, so they can task them; those vital minutes really count.
No two days are the same; I can work flexibly, I'm out and about travelling to different stations quite a bit. I can do a lot of work from home as long as I have access to the systems remotely. I get involved in business cases for new technology and kit when we need it, and the tactical and strategic operation of Airwave. I work a lot with the Home Office to ensure lessons learned from major incidents are applied across all forces and shared understanding of the capacity of the systems.
During the Salisbury Novichok incidents, a lot of people were using Airwave - ambulance, police, surveillance, DSTL, military - and everyone needed to understand the impact they were having on the network, as well as juggling between business as usual which had to be maintained at the same time. Knowing that you are making a difference, solving problems, and giving access to talk groups, at a time when everyone is under pressure made you feel good to be there and offer reassurance.
I didn't have a technical background or skills when I joined. I have a great quality of life and my husband is very envious of what I do as its always really interesting!