Diversity Digest Interviews, Inspector Marvin Bruno of British Transport Police
The national police force for the railways in England, Scotland and Wales –Inspector Marvin Bruno talks about his policing career to date and how he has progressed at BTP
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am originally from the island of Dominica in the Caribbean, where I was a Police Officer for seven years before moving to London to start my new life as a Police Constable working for the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Parks Police. I spent five years with the Parks Police, before joining British Transport Police (BTP) in 2012, which was an exciting time for BTP and London with the 2012 Olympics taking place in the capital.
What made you choose a career in policing? Did you sign up once you left school in the Caribbean?
As soon as I left school at the age of 18 I signed up to join the police in Dominica. Policing had always interested me, especially with regards to wanting to give something back to the community and support others.
How does policing in Dominica compare to policing in the UK?
Culturally, it’s significantly different. In my opinion, the Caribbean has a more robust style of policing, less paperwork, but the level of professionalism is by no means as high as it is in the UK, which is mainly down to the nature of the crimes that the police have to deal with on a daily basis. I was often dealing with violent crimes. We were armed and there was always a real concern for our personal safety in such an environment with the risks being much higher.
For me, the transition was rather difficult at the time, as you can’t apply the same style of robust policing here in the UK. Here, you need to be a lot more resilient and patient, but at the same time, you don’t have that heightened sense of fear for your personal safety on the streets and stations in the UK.
What made you apply to join BTP?
Firstly, I set about doing my own research into the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police to see what opportunities were available, but it was actually a friend of mine who was working at Surrey Police who said, “Why don’t you apply for BTP?”
I made some enquiries into what BTP does and the role it plays in policing the transport network and it sounded like such a mixed and varied force with ample opportunities to expand and grow my skills. But it wasn’t until I unfortunately lost my passport at London Waterloo and I was helped by a BTP officer, who was really nice, approachable and professional throughout the whole experience I had with him, that I knew it was the force for me.
There was something about the different culture, mind-set and friendlier approach to policing that really impressed me. Having grown up in the Caribbean, I had witnessed first-hand the good and bad sides of policing, and this inspired me to want to make a difference and offer a public service.
Up to today, having done policing for almost 18 years, I still have the enthusiasm to offer the best possible service to the public and I don’t think I’ll ever lose it. This is exactly what BTP strives to do, having witnessed this myself when I lost my passport all those years ago.
How did you hear that BTP was recruiting Police Officers?
I was actually on holiday in Caribbean at the time, and a good friend of mine messaged me to inform me that the BTP recruitment process had opened. So I wasted no time and set about typing up my application on my phone as I sat by the pool soaking up the sun, and submitted it straight away.
The application process was pretty straightforward. But for anyone that doesn’t have policing experience and doesn’t know the process, it can seem quite daunting. Please don’t let this put you off from applying. What’s important is making sure that you can evidence all the great work you have done previously and match this up with what will be required as a Police Officer, emphasising your skills and selling your suitability for the role.
What did your family and friends think about you joining the police?
A lot of my close friends, especially at the Parks Police, were supportive in the sense that there would be more opportunities for me to progress and build on my policing career with BTP as opposed to staying there. All my family and friends were extremely supportive of my decision, and they knew that I had ambition to succeed in my policing career.
There was no real concern about my safety, mainly due to my stature and the vast amount of experience I gained in the Caribbean and Parks Police, and they were more than confident I could take care of myself and be safe.
What are the essential skills you need to be a successful Police Officer?
Excellent people skills and the ability to engage with the public are definitely at the top of the list. I really enjoy getting out amongst commuters, rail staff and the general public on a regular basis to make sure they are confident in BTP and the service that we provide.
Having that personal connection with people is such a great thing. Seeing regular faces and greeting people on their way to or from work in the morning or as they set out on a night out makes all the difference in instilling confidence, knowing that you are friendly face and that they can approach you if they need your help. Building trust with those you serve is key!
What’s the best advice you could give to someone considering applying, but struggling with or fearful of the application process?
Make sure you get yourself along to one of our recruitment workshops, which are usually run in the evening or on the weekend. This will give you an opportunity to understand exactly what is required, offer you guidance and an overview of the assessment process to make sure that you have everything you need to put yourself forward for the role.
Additionally, I would say, contact your local BTP police station and enquire to see if the officers there can give you a glimpse of their daily routine, what’s involved, and to see if this would be the right career move for you. It’s important to remember that policing is not always about the exciting incidents that we deal with, but it can also involve its fair share of paperwork. So please get in contact and let’s see if you’ve got what it takes to join BTP.
After successfully getting through the selection process, you started your training at our training school at Spring House, London. What was that like?
I honestly believe that training will be the best part of your policing career, because the friendships you make while you’re there will last for many years to come. This is your time to learn and build strong relationships with your colleagues and everyone is there to succeed. Make the most of it while you’re there, have an open mind so that you soak up all the knowledge around you and most importantly of all, enjoy it!
Has your career progressed at BTP? And have you been supported throughout the process?
The support from both colleagues and the Force has been tremendous without a shadow of a doubt, which is one of the things I most admire about BTP. There are so many opportunities available to you at BTP, and if you’re hard-working, dedicated and willing to progress, then the opportunities are limitless. You just have to put yourself out there, and go get it!
For example, I completed and passed my Sergeants exam while I was still in my probation period, having only served one month of my probation. I went on to become a temporary Sergeant and never went back to being a Police Constable, so if you want something, you can achieve it – all you need is hard work and a strong desire to succeed.