Firstly, that’s not me in the Police car above… I just took the photo!
I’m currently working as a Security and Information Risk Advisor (SIRA) in the public sector. Interestingly, I’m independently certified by CESG (now NCSCS) as a SIRA, and also as a Cyber Security / Information Assurance Auditor Practitioner.
But how did I get to where I am now?
After leaving School, I initially joined the Police as a civilian ‘Emergency Call Handler’. Answering calls from distressed members of the public, with the added pressure of getting an understanding of a situation, calming someone down and also quickly typing that information into a computer system to get help on the way, really taught me some useful communication skills!
After just over two years of that, I progressed into what was known as an “Operations Coordinator” in a Police control room. That meant I received the incident logs from the 999 operators and had to coordinate a response to the emergency. That was anything from asking a Police response car, specialist resources (such as traffic police, dog handlers and firearms officers), or even the Police helicopter, to attend an emergency incident.
I’m not going to lie, that was a stressful job, and on occasion, I left my work feeling like I’d done a round or two in the boxing ring. I had to juggle multiple incidents, maintain several lines of communication (phone, radio, in person) at once, and also accept new incidents and resource them as quickly as I could… It was a juggling act, and one I was acutely aware had people’s lives depending on me at times.
Not only did I do that as a full-time job, I also volunteered as a Special Constable (usually working at least 30 hours a week for free), and also separately achieved a Diploma in Criminal Justice from Napier University at the same time…
After that job hasn’t put me off the Police (in fact, it made me more determined!) I joined as a full time, regular Police Officer.
I worked front line, as part of an Emergency Response Team. That meant attending a wide variety of incidents from shootings, car crashes, murders, petty crime like theft and vandalism, and everything in between! Whilst in the role, I worked short stints with the Dog Section (the highlight of which was when I caught a man who’d just tried to kill someone)… And I also worked for a short time in what was called the ‘Flexible Policing Team’ which was within the ‘Violence Reduction Unit’. It was, let’s say, an interesting experience.
Over the 12 years in total, in various roles, I learned many valuable soft skills, such as:
- enhanced effective communication (both verbally and written) in difficult or stressful situations
- Conflict resolution tactics
- Critical decision making under pressure
- A high standard of legal document completion
- Multi-agency collaborative working
- Stress management
- Emergency life support (used practically in real life situations)
- Effective self-management with regards to time and workload management
- Managing risk to various parties including the public
- Risk assessing ongoing and dynamic incidents to ensure public safety in highly dangerous scenarios using relevant training.
That is just some experience, I won’t bore you with the rest!
On the risk assessment side of things, one of the biggest parts of being a Police officer is risk assessing everything.
What’s the risk of this person having a knife?
What’s the risk of the missing person I’ve just taken a report of committing suicide?
What’s the risk of this unexploded bomb found on a beach going off?
What’s the risk of me driving at high speeds with blue lights to get to an incident?
Risk assessment was my daily routine, so I decided to formalise it.
To do so, I completed an NVQ3 in Occupational Health and Safety. This allowed me to use my acquired skills to prove my existing experience, but also taught new skills like carrying out specific legislative risk assessments, such as Fire Risk and General risk assessments (of which I carried out many for a consultancy firm). All this allowed me to develop my risk assessment skills and knowledge.
In 2016, I decided to change my career path away from operational Policing, by joining a department of the Civil Service in what is a very exciting time of change and growth for them.
Initially, I started in an ‘estates’ team, and was given responsibility for physical Security and also health and safety. Lots of risk assessing required!
After under a year doing that, my knack for assessing risk must have been spotted, as I was moved into a newly created role within a “Security and Infor
mation Assurance” team. My new job title was ‘Assistant Security and Information Risk Assessor’… Or assistant SIRA for short. I applied to the Security Instutute, and given all my previous experiecne in the Police, I was awarded Member status (Alan Curran MSyI).
Following 6 months of loving the job, achieving the BCS Certificate of Information Security Management Principles (with distinction), and being promoted to a full SIRA, I’m now well on my way to my new career in InfoSec. Watch this space…