The latest Mightify Success Story comes from Steven Edwards, who, after leaving the Met, decided to move to Malta and fulfil a creative passion of his in writing.
As steven says, 'There’s a big world out there, full of opportunities...Don’t put yourself in a box. Don’t devalue your experience. You can be an asset outside of policing, in whatever industry you choose'.
In November 2016, I left the Metropolitan Police Service. After almost 10 and a half years’ service, I turned in my warrant card, received a certificate detailing my “exemplary” service and became a civilian.
Initially, it was a strange sensation being without the leather holder and piece of plastic that gave me my police powers because being a police officer had defined me; setting constraints on the way that I lived my life and how I conducted myself. I had performed a variety of roles, starting on response team in Hackney and undertaking detachments to the Borough Support unit, and later a gang Task Force containing a selection of local borough and TSG officers. I then joined the Borough Intelligence Unit and became a Field Intelligence Officer. I finished my time as a Trafpol covering the whole of North East London.
I had some great times, but eventually, I reached my breaking point. I didn’t want to be a police officer anymore. I had done my time serving London and its inhabitants. I’d worked long hours, missed special occasions and had my days off cancelled. I’d spent days on end stood out in the cold, the wind and the rain. I had turned up to places where people were having the worst day of their life and had helped get them through it. I had seen people at their lowest and stood stoically in the face of abuse and provocation. And I had done all of it without much thanks.
Many of my colleagues were just as disillusioned with life in the job. But they felt trapped by their mortgage, kids and pension. For me, the promise of a pension meant little. Mine had already been subject to reform during my service, so who knew what I would end up getting by the time I retired? I faced another 25 years in the job, with a further two years retired, before being able to draw my full pension. I felt I was better off spending the next 30 years trying my hand at a new career than being stuck in one that was heading nowhere.
I updated my C.V. and half-heartedly applied for jobs in risk assessment and security management. I never followed through because I didn’t want the jobs. Such a move can be – and has been - a successful path for others. It just wasn’t the path for me. I needed something creative.
While I wanted to quit, I didn’t yet have anything to quit for. So, I opted for a diversion instead, a distraction from the bleak reality of my day to day existence. I found that distraction in writing.
Underwhelmed by the constant stream of poorly written articles I was reading on the internet, I started a blog, having decided that I could do better. The positive feedback I received proved me correct; I could indeed do better. I found an odd sense of joy in writing a sentence that was pleasing to read. Writing lifted me; it made me happy.
I began to consider it a potential career path. I’d always been complimented on my writing in the job. Whether it was a crime report, a risk assessment or briefing, colleagues and supervisors would go out of their way to let me know I’d done a good job.
Ultimately, my wife decided for me, tired as she was of seeing me so unhappy about my work. If there was the slightest chance that I could make a career out of writing, I had to go for it. What would I regret more, chasing a dream and failing or never dreaming at all?
We went all in. We quit our jobs, sold our flat, packed up the car and drove 2,000 miles across Europe to move to Malta. My wife’s family is Maltese, and I had been travelling there for the best part of 10 years. We’d always talked about living there, but I’d felt tied to London – why would I be a police officer anywhere else? When being in the police was no longer a factor, the decision to move was a straightforward one.
Fast-forward a few years, and life after the Met could not have gone better. From a career perspective, I couldn’t be happier. I started as a freelance writer, writing scripts for T.V. and radio adverts, football blogsites, awards submissions, web pages, brochures, magazines and more. Freelancing exposed me to a variety of mediums and helped me find a direction. When my first child came along, the time came to find something a little more permanent.
Nowadays, I work for an online sports betting and casino company. It’s a multinational organisation with people from all walks of life, making their way in a relatively new industry. I was convinced that my time in the police brought a multitude of transferable skills and experiences that could be of value in the private sector: conflict management, communication, handling pressure, personal responsibility etc. I was correct.
My company are open-minded; they see the value in my time as a police officer. Very quickly, my leadership skills came to the fore, and I found myself promoted and leading a newly created team of writers.
This success has not been down to luck. I backed myself. I was unwilling to be pigeon-holed and unafraid to let people know that I had skills and experience from my time in the police that could be of benefit elsewhere. And I’m not the only person amongst my peers to have left and found success. I can name two pilots, a digital marketer, an advanced driving instructor, a professional photographer and YouTuber, a cyber-crime specialist and a security manager - just off the top of my head.
There’s a big world out there, full of opportunities. So, my advice to anybody thinking about leaving the police is as follows. Don’t put yourself in a box. Don’t devalue your experience. You can be an asset outside of policing, in whatever industry you choose. Your skills are transferable. Get out there and convince others of it!
If you'd like to share your own success story, then please get in touch!