|OCU’s high levels of training pay off|
|TSG offers view inside its work|
|Mentoring partnerships: From left, PC Mark Franz, PC David Morbin, PC Stuart Weston, PC James Hendrick, PC Kate Osbourne and Inspector Paul Heinemann.|
| A TSG MENTOR scheme is giving recruits an inside view of what it’s really like to work at the cutting edge of Britain’s largest police service.
Three years ago, a group of TSG officers formulated a plan for each of the five bases to have dedicated staff members to advise potential applicants. The OCU now has 90 mentors working across London.
Diane Gawley, TSG personnel manager, said: “They offer tips on board technique, talk applicants through the TSG’s core business, provide guidance about the skills you need for this line of policing and ensure that you fully understand the role.
“They can also arrange for practice shield runs at Gravesend so applicants know what is required of them.”
In 1988 TSG evolved from the Special Patrol Group to bolster and support the Met’s core frontline police response units and to act as the Commissioner’s Reserve.
Covering the entire area policed by the Met from bases in Paddington (TSG1), Finchley (TSG2), Chadwell Heath (TSG3), Catford (TSG4) and Clapham (TSG5), their role is three-fold: securing the capital against terrorism; reducing priority crime through borough support; and providing a level one response to public order.
The myth that TSG only deals with public order operations and that you must be fitness-obsessed to join is far from the truth, according to Audrey Shannon, an inspector at TSG2. But she said public order does play a major part in their role – all TSG officers are fully trained.
Chief Superintendemt David George said: “ The TSG remains one of the most exciting and vibrant working environments within the Met. Whenever there is a significant policing incident in London, the TSG will invariably be playing a major role in its resolution. I am also pleased to have helped the Met achieve exceptional performance in the last few years.
“To maintain these high standards it is vital all officers consider the TSG as a career path of choice allowing us to recruit at an appropriate level.”
However, TSG primarily supports boroughs through high-visibility patrols, pro-active targeting of suspects, surveillance, decoy operations and providing a presence on the streets.
At the forefront of the fight against terrorism, the TSG has a dedicated CBRN (chemical, biological, radioactive and nuclear) team, fully trained to respond to any incident.
“You do require a certain amount of fitness,” said Insp Shannon. “We provide a 24-hour service London-wide. This could be anything from rapid entry to a major terrorist attack, so it’s vital we can respond effectively and efficiently.
“But the idea we simply sit around the canteen until something kicks off is nonsense.”
Insp Shannon spends the majority of her time out patrolling, working alongside the boroughs, actively looking for crime. “It’s a wonderfully diverse environment to work in where no one day is the same as the other.”
Female officers may have preconceived ideas that the TSG has a ‘macho culture’, but this is another myth dispelled by people already working on the team.
Insp Shannon said: “Being female is not a barrier. Male officers can have just the same concerns about the fitness aspect.”
Ann Marie Quiller, TSG’s recruitment manager, said: “The emphasis is on teamwork and that means everyone is supported. Experience tells us it is encouraging to have the support of others when teams undertake arduous assignments.
“It really isn’t about being butch ‘super cops’ who open doors with their heads.”
A career in the TSG also provides an excellent stepping-stone for individual careers in the Met – the majority of officers leaving TSG go on to other specialist units or on promotion.
Mrs Quiller said: “The high-er level of training TSG officers receive means they are put in a good position to further their skills in other specialist areas.
“You learn new skills and experience a wide range of events and situations which put your abilities to the test.”
An open day is held annually with other recruitment events taking place throughout the year. Call TSG recruitment team on 25996, 258232 or 25967.
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