A football coach swapped training players for safeguarding victims in a career move to policing with Derbyshire.
Alena Moulton, who had previously worked as a head coach for Stoke City Women’s team, joined Derbyshire Constabulary as a Police Constable through the Degree Holder’s Entry Programme (DHEP).
She said: “I never wanted to be a police officer. I saw the advert at a time in my life when I thought there wasn’t any progression in the role I was in, and I wanted to get some satisfaction from my job.
“I do know people who have had negative experiences with being stop searched, so it did come as a bit of a shock to family and friends.
“But if I want to make a change, I’ve got to join and try to change the perception. I do consider myself to be strong-headed and willing to have those difficult conversations. I’m not going to change the world but if I can change a small amount then that’s something positive.”
Alena, who had also worked in local schools for a decade, joined the DHEP, which incorporates study alongside working as an operational police officer: “I always wanted to do a masters anyway, so I felt the DHEP would give me enough credits to do that in the future. I also didn’t want to go to uni full-time and stop working, so it provided that balance.
“It is hard. You get a lot of uni work and assessed work from the force. You do get study days, but you also want to work with your police team and not let them down. My advice is to be good with your time management, but don’t use your rest days to try and finish the job as you need the time off.
“Be clear in what you want to get out of it. There are lots of entry routes into policing so work out what you want and go for the best route for you.”
Alena’s coaching experience has helped her career as a police officer, in what she says, is the best part of the job:
“Being able to safeguard a victim, I don’t think there’s anything better you can do. As a coach, it’s always important to put the person before the player. I tried to understand my players, what motivated them and the type of person they were before I even started thinking about football.
“It’s the same in the police, I have to show I care about a victim or the community before they will open up to me. People might just have a little more trust if you’ve dealt with them before or if they feel a connection in some way.”
Based at Peartree, Alena enjoys being part of a different team that paces the streets rather than a pitch:
“It does feel like a family as you spend so much time together, you’ve got to have everyone’s back. As a shift, you can go to some horrible things, but being able to come together, checking on each other is really important.”
Plus, Alena feels that her background and supportive shift team means the learning can go both ways: “I know the force can do better with bridging gaps in communities, that’s part of the reason why I came here to Peartree to work with my own Black community.
“Anyone that knows me knows I’ve always had an opinion and if I disagree with something I’ll always say it. Being able to be authentic and be myself in my role has always been important to me.
"I have a supportive shift, and I’ve also got a good inspector who gets it, which really helps.
“In coaching, I’ve always been values based with my teams. I will always judge people based on their actions and not what they say, and it’s the same in the police.”
Alena’s advice for anyone interested in joining: “Be authentic in your interview, let them see who you are and how you would fit into the team.
“Understand the demands of the job, it’s not easy and adjusting to shift work can be hard so make sure you’ve figured this out with your family and worked out a compromise if you’re late off.
"There’s people with ten plus years’ experience and they’re still figuring it out, so don’t be afraid to ask if you’re not sure.”
If you'd like to find out more about the different ways to join Derbyshire Constabulary please visit our Careers Website.