Dyfed Powys Police Federation workplace representative Rashmita Wharton has revealed how positive contact with the police when she was a troubled teenager sparked her desire to join the service and try to bring change to society.
Rashmita was being pushed towards an arranged marriage and said the conflict in cultures at home meant she was often on the missing persons list.
A combination of those cultural issues and her subsequent dealings with the police led to Rashmita setting her heart on a career in policing.
She said: “I was very naïve when I joined the police but I wanted to make a difference to subjects such as forced marriage, equality and racism and to promote under-represented minority groups.
“I myself was being pushed into an arranged marriage, so I ran away from home and subsequently joined the police.
“I was a regular missing person as a young teenager due to the conflict in cultures in my home and the contact I had with police gave me a positive attitude.”
Rashmita joined West Midlands Police in 1992 and transferred to Dyfed Powys in 1998 when she was posted to Pembrokeshire on response. She moved to Powys in 2002 and a year later was seconded to the Home Office UK Border Agency (UKBA) for six years.
In 2009 she moved to Newtown Neighbourhood Policing Team, then Welshpool Neighbourhood Policing Team and is currently serving as a response officer at Welshpool.
Rashmita described surveillance operations and working with UKBA on operations in Jamaica and Turkey on operations as career highlights.
She became a Police Federation workplace rep in 2018, again driven by her burning desire to try to make a difference and bring about change.
“The Police Federation was historically seen as a men’s club and 2018 was the first time elections were held independently through Mi-Voice,” she explained.
“I saw the process being done fairly and therefore put myself up for the challenge and got voted in.”
And in a message to colleagues considering putting themselves forward to be a rep in this year’s election before the 22 July deadline, she said: “If you want change and feel strongly about it then put yourself forward and make it happen.
“Changes can only happen if we successfully negotiate. I would particularly encourage younger in service officers to consider becoming reps. The fact that you may only have a few years’ service should not be a barrier and your perspective is really important to the branch. As well as representing your colleagues, you can give them a voice while also developing new skills that will be useful to you as your career develops.”
Rashmita’s special areas of interest include women’s health issues within policing and the recruitment of under-represented groups.
She said the most rewarding aspects of her role as a workplace rep was helping others, providing vital support to colleagues and listening to people. She listed her key priorities are the welfare of officers and fairness in the workplace.
But she acknowledged one of the major challenges to overcome was a lack of time.
Rashmita said: “Although the Force provides time for Federation duties I find that being on response the majority of the time there is always shortage of staff so I end up giving up my own time to do the work.
“The geographical area of the Force also brings its own challenges if face-to-face meetings are required.”
New reps are given comprehensive training by the Police Federation and Rashmita has undertaken the initial course which included equality workshops and described Teams, Zoom and Skype as a blessing during the pandemic.
Looking ahead, Rashmita said the implementation of the new end to end project, which she believes will put extra burdens on all staff and bring about welfare issues and safety concerns, was among the most pressing challenges for Dyfed Powys Police Federation and its members. She also warned compulsory abstraction days of student officers for their degree work would leave the frontline even thinner.
In terms of the Force, Rashmita said its greatest challenges were likely to be the budget and the appointment of a new Chief Constable and their views about the Force.