Joanne joined the Police at the age of 17 as a Junior Entrant….Joanne tells us how much things have changed since then…

Why did you join the control room?

I joined West Yorkshire Police at 17 yrs. old as a Junior Entrant at the time and I had the good fortune to try a number of jobs and work in lots of different departments.  I always looked into working in the control room which was a lot different back then as it was just a couple of operators in a Station control room and the equipment was, well let’s say a little less technological then!  But it was always something I thought….  I’d like to do that one day.  A (good) few years later after working in a number of different departments, my thoughts came true and I began working in the fast paced Area Control Room in Bradford City Centre, I absolutely loved it.  As a dispatcher you are at the heart of the Police Force and helping people directly whether that be members of the public or the officers you work with. I have now worked in the dispatch control room and the call centre taking 999 calls.  I then became a Supervisor in both areas, I since moved on to be a Flight Duty Officer in the National Police Air Service Operations Centre control room.

Tell us what is like working in an emergency control room?

The work in a control room is fast paced and stressful and ever changing, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!  No day is the same and now I am a Flight Duty Officer with NPAS it is a different environment, a little less intense but dealing with and taking calls from the 43 police forces in England and Wales with some high profile cases, helping find missing people, following the stolen cars from the air and much more.  The decisions that are made can mean the difference between life and death.

Knowing that you’ve helped someone in need or assisted catching the bad guys, really does give you job satisfaction. 

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Knowing that you have helped someone in need or assisted catching the bad guys, really does give you job satisfaction that you can get nowhere else!

What makes your job challenging and how do you overcome this?

The decisions we make as to who is more in need of assistance from air support can be challenging as of course everyone wants their incident as the higher priority.  We are trained and given the skills to be able to make a rational decision between incidents and work as a team to get the job done.  Budgets being cut also is a challenge as with all Forces, NPAS has also had to tighten its belt and this means less staff and equipment and aircraft.  So ensuring that you utilise the fleet of aircraft and staff to their optimum is a problem faced every day, with ever-changing circumstances and incidents coming in, it is a challenge at its very best.  Problem solving is a huge skill you learn and improve on as control room operator/supervisor!

What does International Control Room Week mean to you and the team?

Flight dispatchers, control room operators and call takers alike are the unsung, back room heroes within the police forces and usually little is heard about them, so The International Control Room Week to recognise this job and celebrate the skills of these people will go a long way to show that they are appreciated and a time to thank them for the work that they do!

Thank Joanne and the team by using #UnsungHeroes on social media. If you have a story, please email