Aneesah aims to inspire others into police force


20-year-old aspiring police officer, Aneesah Mahmood from Peterborough shares her story (Picture: Cambridgeshire police)

She joined as a special constable with Cambridgeshire Police and trained with officers between December and March this year. Since graduating, she has dedicated hundreds of hours of volunteering to the front line and is based at Thorpe Wood Police Station. 

Joining the police force is a ‘dream come true’ for Aneesah, who wanted to be a police officer since a young age since growing up in Millfield.

She says she wants to help and make people feel comfortable to come forward and raise concerns and 'bring justice to victims.' 

It has not been an easy journey so far for Aneesah who was contemplating quitting after receiving hatred from members of her own community, who she believes are not all supportive of the idea of an ‘Asian’ ‘Muslim’ girl working as an officer - but with the help and motivation from her friends and family, Aneesah has drawn the courage to fulfil her dream. 

Talking to Peterborough Matters, Aneesah said: “I am a very family-oriented person and they are the most important people to me. Choosing a career path like this was not easy. But I have immense support from my family and friends, without whom I don’t think I could cope with the negativity and stigma I have faced. 

“I grew up in an area of Peterborough where I have seen crime go undetected. Even now, the amount of crime and drugs that there is in communities is ridiculous. 

"Since I was young it has been my dream to be a police officer and join the force and help bring justice. But I know it's not going to be easy.

"I have received hatred from people within my own community who don’t think I should be pursuing a career like this. It made me question if I should carry on for the sake of my safety, my family's safety. I even told a senior sergeant at work about my concerns. 

“My parents and my aunties kept pushing me and giving me the strength to keep going. My family and friends are the reason why I don’t pay attention to others as they are my support system and motivate me to carry on. Another police officer (my neighbour) encouraged me to join volunteering. He helped me with seeing the good side of it. 

“I think it’s common knowledge that you will be subjected to prejudice and negativity and that’s probably why it deters a lot of people from ethnic communities to come forward and take these roles. I hope more people are inspired by my efforts and choice.” 

Aneesah works part-time in a supermarket while studying for a degree in criminology at University Centre Peterborough. 

We asked her what it was like wearing the uniform and going out alongside other officers, even senior figures on duty. 

“It makes me feel proud,” Aneesah said, adding: “It gives me immense confidence and honour at the same time. I finished training in March. When I was joining the force and starting training, I had my apprehensions about how I might be treated. Will I be judged for who I am? Because of my appearance or the headscarf - will I be treated differently? I was extremely nervous. 

"But my parents told me something, that I will never forget and it worked as a booster for me - “as long as you have Allah SWT with you and our duas (prayers) you’ll always be safe and successful.” 

“To my relief,  I was treated equally and no different to anyone else. It gave me even more confidence. The team encouraged me and supported me just like anybody else, made sure I was comfortable and felt safe. There was also another Asian boy who I knew so that made me feel a bit more at ease. 

“I have really enjoyed it amidst all this. No two days were the same. Every day was a new experience. I felt a bit scared too, naturally. We were being treated like other officers; we went with other officers on jobs. It's very exciting.” 

So, what’s the plan for Aneesah now? 

“I still have a year and a half of my degree course left to finish. After that, I am keen to re-apply for a full job and join the force. They have suggested I join a special department with them, but I might join with the force and then branch out on how confident and experienced I am.  

“I have had thoughts where I have questioned my choice of career, but then I remember what my parents said and the support for me. I hope more people follow suit. I want to make a difference to the community through my role.”