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Though joining the Met had not always been Detective Sergeant McLean’s intention, following an opportunity at university to shadow officers in investigating hate crime offences, she was inspired to pursue a career in policing. Beginning her journey as a PC in 2007, DS McLean knew immediately she wanted to specialise as a detective in serious crime and 14 years later she has not looked back. Throughout her career, she has helped to protect the community and has had a profound impact on victims of crime. In 2015, she received a commendation for Detective Constable of the Year for her work in Camden, in combating serious gang and drug crime and helping to safeguard the Camden residents. What is your current day-to-day role?
I have recently joined the team at South West Borough Command Unit as a detective sergeant. My role involves supervising investigations and ensuring that victims of crime are provided with a quality service. I also ensure that we identify every opportunity to solve their crime and bring the offender to justice. Every day is not easy but every day is rewarding and allows you to impact on the lives of someone, somewhere.
Being a detective allows you to put the pieces of the puzzle together, ensuring you always have the full picture. It is also the desire to help others and make a difference coupled with the concepts of wanting justice and fairness for all. What was your main motivation for joining the police?
Growing up I never thought I would be a police officer. As a young female raised by Caribbean parents in South London, this was a role that never appealed to me. However whilst at university, I accepted an opportunity to shadow an officer at Brixton Police Station as part of a research project. I spent a week in the Community Safety Unit observing officers involved in investigating hate crime offences. It was this experience which led me to become curious about the variety of roles on offer within the police.
I successfully joined the Met Police in 2007 and after my training at Hendon I was posted to Kentish Town. Soon after joining, I knew straight away that I wanted to be a detective and I can honestly say I have never looked back. I am a naturally curious person and being a detective allows you to investigate the most serious offences. Every day presents a new challenge where I get to put my ‘Columbo hat’ on and enjoy the hunt for “who did it?” What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
My job means that I regularly come into contact with people who are in crisis and who have endured the most harrowing of experiences. Their courage and resilience to overcome what has happened to them is inspiring. Knowing that I have played a small role in supporting them on their journey is incredibly rewarding.
In 2015 I received a commendation for Detective Constable of the Year. At the time, I was posted on Camden Borough where I led an Operation aimed at tackling one of the most established gangs in London. This was one of the proudest moments of my career. Having my family and friends witness me receiving recognition for my hard work and knowing that the residents of Camden had regained their streets back free from drugs and violence was immensely fulfilling. What would you say to someone considering a career in the Met?
My favourite quote is by Ghandi “Be the change you wish to see”. Every day, as I walk into the office I remember this. Hoping that the small contribution I make to help keep people safe is one small step to building a community where people can go about their daily business, free from harm and danger.
Being a Detective has traditionally been a male orientated role. However more and more females are exploring the detective career pathway. The role does not always involve running around like “The Sweeney” and can encompass sensitive positions such as the role of Family Liaison Officer. These officers provide support to families who have experienced significant trauma as a result of a loved one being significantly or fatally injured. It’s this support, empathy and compassion that makes the investigation and the resulting court process more bearable for families and it is a chance to build relationships and share personal experiences to help others through their grief. What does being a black police officer mean to you?
I am often asked what it is like to be black and be in the police. Nearly everyone wants an insight into the personal challenges that I have faced. When I am asked, I often try to reflect on my experience as a whole. Mine has been positive and when I walk through the doors of the police building each morning, I feel a sense of pride to be part of the policing family where we look after one another and where the nature of our work creates a bond based on trust and loyalty. However, being a black officer can be challenging. Especially the struggle of trying to tread the delicate balance between identity and allegiance, there are times when it is not easy to be both black and blue.
There have been moments in the Met’s history where the relationship with the community has broken down with undertones of discrimination and injustice being a common theme. However, as a community we cannot demand change from the side-lines, no matter how loud those voices choose to shout. If policing is to become more reflective of those who are being policed, then change can only come from within. The Met becoming more representative, means having officers that are from a cross-section of society, where their lived experiences are valued and can inform the way we police in the future. Ensuring that we are the cornerstone of every community forging relationships focused on building trust and confidence.
It is important that more people want to be a part of this “Blue” family and be the source of change. By being so, you do not have to lose your cultural identity. I for one, truly have the best job in the world.
Fulfilling her lifelong ambition.
The most senior black female police officer in the UK.
Staying true to herself.
Volunteer Community Ambassador for the Met.
Bringing communities together.
Supporting officers with their physical and mental well-being.
Mentor for disadvantaged girls.
Helping to recruit the next generation of police officers.
The Met’s first post-war black officer.
Working alongside police officers on the frontline.
The Met’s first black female police officer.
Making this city a safer place for future generations.
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