ALUMNI PROFILE – ELLIE LONSDALE, SPECIAL CONSTABLE
Ellie Lonsdale has wanted to join the police since she was 11 years old and her dream is now becoming a reality. Following a rigorous selection process, Ellie has been recruited as a Special Constable with North Yorkshire Police. Based at Richmond Station, Ellie is quickly getting to grips with the many demands and challenges that the position entails and is devoting over 16 hours each month to the voluntary role. Ellie is keen to become a full-time Police Officer and being a Special Constable, coupled with her years as a Police Cadet, are great stepping stones to this. Further information about how to apply to become a Special Constable is available here and you can find out about Ellie’s experiences and her advice for anyone who is interested in a career with the Police in her Q and A below.
What subjects did you study in sixth form?
There aren’t really any subjects I could have taken to support my career however I knew that health and social would be beneficial, but I also wanted to take a subject I knew I enjoyed so I took CTEC performing arts. It was nice to let loose through dance when the other half of me was so focused on my career.
How old were you when you decided you would like to consider being a police officer and what inspired you?
I was 11 years old when I made up my mind about wanting to join the police. I think for me the biggest thing that inspired me was that they have no fear. Even though there are many controversial views and opinions on police officers, nothing stops us from saving people’s lives. Society was changing and developing rapidly when I was growing up in school and I knew I needed to make a difference.
Were you in the police cadets?
Yes, I started the police cadets in 2017. The range of activities and events we participated in were amazing experiences. For example, we went to Durham to help train the riot squad by throwing wooden bricks at them and screaming and shouting! We also took part in walking around local communities and dropping off leaflets with advice on how to protect your property etc. In 2020, I became a leader of the unit alongside former student Ben Dowson, who is now a police officer, and other members of the police force including S/Sgt Nadine Slattery, PC Heather Campbell, SC Ryan Davis and PCSO Paul Fee. We will be recruiting again this year so please keep an eye out if you’d like to join. (14-18 years of age)
What process did you follow to apply and be accepted into the police force?
When I saw North Yorkshire Police was recruiting for Special Constables, I knew this was my chance. I had just turned 18 when I applied, and it was right in the middle of lockdown so there was a lot going on for me to process. Firstly, you fill out a form where you are given a few questions such as “What skills do you have which make you suitable for the role”. Then there is a section where you fill out your qualifications, references and sign a declaration. If you have impressed recruitment, you will be invited to complete an online situational strengths test which gives you scenarios and you must rate in order from 1-5 what you’re most likely to do in the situation. If you are successful you will be invited to an interview – most interviews and now held over Microsoft teams which takes that little bit of extra pressure off you. The interview consists of competency-based questions, and you must familiarise yourself with North Yorkshire Police’s competencies and the policing plan. Recruitment do hold familiarisation events that you can attend which give you a good understanding of what to expect in the interviews and it’s a brilliant way to prepare.
How long does it take to become a Special Constable?
North Yorkshire Police always have a large volume of applicants, so I won’t lie but I’d say the process, from the moment you first apply to your interview, is around a few months. This is because there are thorough vetting checks made on yourself in order to ensure you’re suitable for the job alongside medical and fitness checks too. It may feel like a long process but trust me, it flies by and before you know it, you’re sat in the classroom.
Are there any other ways that you can join?
I joined as a Special Constable, however you can also join as a PCSO, or North Yorkshire Police have recently introduced the PCDA route (Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship). This entails completing a degree alongside being operational and is a really great opportunity. When they next open the applications I will be signing up for this as I want to excel in my career. All information on vacancies for North Yorkshire Police can be found on their website at https://www.northyorkshire.police.uk/
Describe a typical day as a Special Constable
Where do I start…No job you go to is ever the same! You must mentally and physically prepare yourself for going from one extreme to the other. Most members of the public are usually quite happy to see a police presence however, you do get the small percentage who aren’t so happy to see you. That’s part of the job though, many people have different opinions on police officers for many different reasons, but you do learn how to just accept that not everybody wants you around. The opportunity is unbelievable and I’m so lucky to be part of such an amazing, supportive police force.
What do you particularly enjoy about your job?
I thrive off the fact that I am the first point of help when someone is in need. I’ve always loved helping people, that’s just who I am as a person. I love working with the community and with other members of the force who work in Catterick, Bedale, Northallerton etc. It’s also pretty fun when you’re on a blue light run!
Are there any challenges you face in your role?
100%. That’s called being a police officer. You will see things most members of the public will never see in their lives. There will be highs and there will be lows, but you must remember you are doing an amazing job and without police officers in the world we would live in a very unsafe place. We make a difference to at least one life every day and for me that’s the biggest achievement I could ever receive.
What advice would you give any students who are considering becoming a police officer?
Never give up. Never look back. It can be hard at times, but you will be selected because the interview panel see potential in you. There is no harm in sticking your head into your local police station and asking some officers questions about their experiences or how they prepared for their interview. Join onto as many events as you can, do your research. Knowledge is power and power is knowledge. And most importantly, stay out of trouble!
Did you consider any other careers before making your mind up about joining the police force?
No, I knew I wanted to be in the police when I was 11 and I never changed my mind after that. I was so determined to achieve my dream career and I never looked back. And thank god I didn’t because I couldn’t have been anymore prouder of myself for what I have achieved.
Did you have support from the sixth form team/ teachers in making your final choice?
Yes, they were all very supportive. Mrs. Fox was always pushing me and encouraging me to do well, she really was my biggest supporter within school, and I couldn’t thank her enough. Don’t ever feel like you can’t talk to your teachers about your career because trust me, they give the best advice and I will always be grateful for the support I received at from teachers and also other students at Richmond School & Sixth Form College.