Nick Bond is a Communications Officer in the Met’s Control Centre. He decided to not go to uni after school and went straight into working in a call centre. He now works as a coach training new Communications Officers and thinks he definitely made the right decision as he is still working in a call centre many years later!
Why did you want to join the Met as a Communications Officer?
I was looking to move to London and wanted a job where I could help people. I previously worked for the ambulance service, so I could bring over the skills I had learnt there.
What does being a Communications Officer involve?
You answer a mix of emergency and non-emergency calls. You risk assess each individual call and then decide what the best possible police response would be to help the person calling. There’s a range of calls that you receive so you have to judge what you think would be best. You’ll also have to signpost people to other services when it’s not necessarily a police response that they need. Some days you only answer emergency 999 calls, but other days you will also receive the non-emergency 101 calls, which adds a bit of variety.
What training did you initially do to become a Communications Officer?
You start off doing three weeks in the classroom where you learn about Met policies and how to categorise the calls. In the afternoon you’ll do some mock call with coaches where you go through different examples and scenarios, so you get used to using the system and the different types of calls you’ll be receiving. You then go into the centre, where you are coached for another four to five weeks. You’ll be listening to real calls coming in and getting to answer calls yourself. If that all goes well, you’ll then be assigned a team where you’ll be working fully as a Communications Officer, but still have the support of your coach if you need it.
What support is there available when you first join the Met?
When you are assigned to a team you are also assigned a buddy who is on hand to assist you when you need it. They work the same shifts as you so they’re always around to offer support. Every centre has a Wellbeing Officer who is available to have a cup of tea with if you’ve had a bad call. They also bring around treats every so often! We also love it when Dexter, the wellbeing dog, comes in to visit us for a stroke. There is a 24 hour emergency number that you can ring for support and additional counselling can be sought through occupational health.
What development is there available for a Communications?
After around a year, you’ll get trained up to be a Dispatch Officer, where instead of answering the 999 calls you make sure that officers can get to where they are needed. You can then decide whether you would like to move into that role or stay where you are. You can also move into being a supervisor or a coach. There are also regular opportunities to temporarily work in other departments to see if you’re interested in doing something different.
What does a typical day look like?
At the start of the day you read through any key updates that are shown on the system then you start answering calls. We usually work on 12 hour shifts, with four breaks throughout the day. You work four to five days on, then have a block of four to five days off. I much prefer it to typical 9-5 hours.
What life experiences or skills can someone bring to the role?
You’re dealing with people in high stress situations, so being able to remain calm is a must. You need to be a resilient person and be patient and understanding. There are many skills that you gain in customer services that you can bring to the role. People join from a wide range of different backgrounds and everyone brings something different to the role.
What was it like taking your first call?What was it like taking your first call?
It was very nerve-racking, but I had my coach sat right next to me to guide me through it. Once I had got the first one out of the way it made me feel more confident about being to take more on. You’re then excited to get on with it and learn more.
What do you love about your job?
Helping people, which is what brought me to the role. At the end of the day you can go home knowing that you’ve done a good job and helped someone when they most need it.
What would you say to someone considering joining the Met as a Communications Officer?
Give it a go! It can be challenging, but you get to work with a nice bunch of people who also want to help people.