#IWD2019: “My mum’s the reason why women like me can have children and a career in the police.”

PC Jennifer Sharpling, 35, was born in Greenwich and lives in Bromley with her husband – also an officer – and two young children. She joined the Met in 2005 as a civilian and became an officer in 2008. She’s currently on maternity leave. Her mum is PC Karen Giles, our longest-serving female officer.

Every day you feel like you’ve achieved something. There aren’t many jobs like that.

I love the job, it’s the best in the world. The excitement and the adrenaline, going home at the end of the day and knowing you’ve really made a difference.

What makes a good officer? Someone who cares.

You have to care about people or you won’t enjoy it. I love being around people, helping people, listening to their stories. I feel that I can go into situations and calm them down. I think that’s one of my strengths, talking people down, making them feel heard.

Being a response driver is exhilarating. I was on response team for eight and a half years. That’s always where my heart will be. Although there are lots of female response drivers, I was the only one on my team for some time.

It doesn’t matter where you are, when you’re driving to an emergency call and people spot a female officer driving they always give you a second look.

Jennifer as a child wearing Karen’s uniform

My mum’s the reason why women like me can have children and a career in the police. I’m just so proud of her. When she had me the expectation was that she’d leave the police because the view was that she couldn’t possibly be a single mum, raise a child and be a police officer. She proved them wrong and showed them she was entitled to be here.

You can have kids and still be ambitious.But I’m a strong believer that just because I’ve got young children – a choice I’ve made – I shouldn’t take priority over those who don’t. Everyone has a family they want to see and a life outside of the job that they’re entitled to, even if it doesn’t look like mine. If you want to be in a front line operational role, staying late and shift changes are part of the package and you know that when you sign up. There are other roles in the job that can offer more flexibility and stability if that’s what you need, it’s about compromise.

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