Neighbourhood Sergeant Kate Benson has been part of the policing family for more than 13 years, originally starting her career at West Yorkshire Police before returning to her roots and home force of Northumbria in 2017.
Now, she takes on the challenges of rural policing in and around Hexham – dedicating her time engaging with residents and making sure long-term solutions are found for issues impacting communities.
However, rural crime isn’t the only thing in Sgt Benson’s life as she is also a single mum to a young son. And she hopes to inspire others in a similar position to consider a career in policing.
She said: “I’m a completely different person than when I joined the police; I have different priorities and dependencies outside of work at the moment.
“I was nervous about those changes but the Force and my team couldn’t have been more supportive. I’m given the flexibility to be a mum and an officer and it is great – you shouldn’t have to sacrifice one for the other and in this job I’m given the freedom to make sure both roles in my life can co-exist.
“I’m dedicating my life to policing – I joined when I was 22 and I’m hoping to be an officer until I retire, and knowing the Force understands that from time-to-time people’s lives change and their level of support varies really makes me feel comfortable in my role. It gives me confidence and security and in turn I can do my very best when I’m at work.”
Sgt Benson began her time at Northumbria Police in Gateshead before moving to Hexham.
“The needs of residents and businesses in rural areas can be completely different from more built-up urban areas and we need to make sure we’re adapting how we police to ensure their needs and concerns are understood,” said Sgt Benson.
“With that comes various challenges including learning and understanding different crime trends and learning the area’s vast geography and roads.
“A big part of us being able to tackle these challenges is knowledge and we get that in a variety of ways including partnership working, linking in with local landowners and one of our best resources is the communities themselves – getting out and about and understanding their needs and learning about issues directly from those it is impacting. This provides us with the ability to best deploy and utilise resources and adapt our tactics to tackle crime effectively.”
As part of the rural Neighbourhood Policing Team Sgt Benson is responsible for tackling organised crime targeting communities and more isolated areas, cross border criminals travelling from Scotland and other Force areas to commit offences as well as driving down crimes impacting locals and causing physical, emotional and financial harm to the public.
Sgt Benson is well equipped for the job and her skill set impressed senior officers so much she was promoted in just eight weeks after joining Northumbria Police.
She said: “Like with any career it can be quite scary applying or going for promotion but during both procedures I was fully supported and encouraged by my colleagues and supervisors”.
“There are always new challenges and opportunities with any new role or rank and to be honest I welcome them. It’s how people learn and develop new skills, it means we can be better trained and prepared to tackle crime and support victims.
“Like I said I’ve chosen this as my career and I want to make something of it for myself, my son and for the communities I work and live in, to protect and be a part of. I encourage anyone to take the plunge and join our policing family – it can work for anyone and the satisfaction you get from securing prosecutions and helping vulnerable people is like nothing else.
“If people are reading this, in a similar position to me, and thinking about a career with the police I would say go for it.”
If you are inspired by Kate’s story and are interested in a career as a police officer you can find out more by visiting https://bit.ly/2p6lFge.