Age is nothing but a number – according to a retiring PCSO whose career began at 50
Not many people decide to completely change career at the age of 50 – but that’s exactly what one Sandwell PCSO did.
PCSO Kirti Patel shunned all ideas of winding down or planning for retirement and instead swapped a phone and a desk for a uniform and radio 14 years ago.
As she starts looking towards her imminent retirement, Kitty – as she is affectionately known – has been reflecting on her overall service of 20 years with West Midlands Police, which included six years in our Force Contact Centre before moving across into neighbourhood policing.
Having celebrated her 64th birthday in April, Kitty will be retiring next month, however before she leaves, she is keen to get the message out to people who are more mature and wanting a career in the police to not be afraid of applying.
We have recruited 11 PCSOs aged 45 and over in the past two years and now Kitty, who is British Indian, is keen not just for more mature people to get involved, but also for more women and people from ethnic minorities to see their future in policing.
“Communications skills are vital,” says Kitty. “The key thing in this role is engagement and a big part of this is having the ability to communicate effectively – it’s so important because we do often have to reach out to people when they in a difficult situation, as well as getting key messages out to the community.”
While policing is about protecting people, preventing crime and helping those in need, Kitty says it’s also about showing kindness, empathy and friendship.
“Empathy is the glue that holds a community together - respect and kindness are the best medicine in the world and are totally free. Be humble and kind always,” says Kitty. "Refrain from being judgemental as we haven’t walked in people's shoes and can't understand their struggles.”
Kitty, who refers to herself as a ‘seenager’ – a senior teenager - started working for West Midlands Police in 2001 as a central switchboard operator, however at the age 50 decided on a career change.
She remembers seeing a job advert for the PCSO role and decided to take the chance and support the communities of WMP in person instead of being the person who is first contact, at the end of a phone.
If you’re interested in following Kitty into policing, there’s many opportunities available depending on your experience, circumstances and skills.
You can register for job alerts on our website to hear when a particular type of role or career path is open for applications, such as PCSO vacancies, by clicking here.
New Home Office figures published this week show the government is 44% of the way towards meeting its ambition of hiring 20,000 additional police officers by 2023.
To find out more about the variety of police careers available, including our student police officer entry programme, visit our careers hub.
If you need help in gaining qualifications before joining us, there’s opportunities for free educational support as part of our partnership with Go Train – more details can be found here.
How old you are doesn’t determine whether you’ll be a great member of our team, so we are happy to receive applications from people of any age, as long as you’re older than 17 and meet the eligibility criteria.