Diabetes didn’t stop me from becoming a police officer
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During National Diabetes Month one Leicestershire officer shares her story in the hope of inspiring others to not let their condition stand in their way.
PC Danielle Shepherd has lived with type 1 diabetes since the age of three and despite wanting to join the police from a young age she was led to believe her dream job would remain a dream because of her condition.
Diabetes is a condition where the person’s blood glucose level is too high. With type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells that produce insulin and is a condition that has no known cure. There are an estimated 3.9 million people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK with around 8% living with the type 1.
“When I was a teenager I attended a school career fair but didn’t even consider speaking to anyone at the police stand, even though it was what I thought I wanted to do,” said the 22-year-old from Ashby De La Zouch.
“Growing up with type 1 diabetes I was always led to believe it was just one of those types of jobs I couldn’t do.”
Feeling lost after changing jobs, Danielle did a search on job vacancies, to her surprise, she stumbled across a FAQ section on becoming a police officer. One of the questions being, ‘can I join the police force if I have diabetes’. The answer? Yes (considered on a case by case basis).
She applied straight away, succeeded in her interviews and proceeded into her role as a police officer in January 2020 following the completion of her training.
Danielle added: “In my previous jobs growing up, I’ve always wanted to help people. I went to work in a horse and carriage yard doing weddings and funerals, then I became a receptionist at a local leisure centre. The thought of working a 9-5 office job just never appealed to me.
“Having had diabetes from a young age, and with my sister and dad also having the condition, I have never really known any different. As a family we really support each other but I was always worried that I wouldn’t have the same support system in my future career place.
“Aside from a slightly longer medical check when I started, I’ve never been doubted by Leicestershire Police and feel endlessly reassured by the force family that my condition makes me no different.
“People in the force care about my diabetes, even though they don’t have it themselves, they want to know more about it by asking questions. The officers on my shift always take time to ensure I’m okay and catered for whether that’s taking five minute breaks or having something to eat or drink regularly. I know they’re looking out for me but also that I’m not different to them.
If I could go back and give my 18-year-old self one piece of advice, it would be ‘just to go for it’ and ‘never doubt yourself in becoming a police officer because of your diabetes’. Joining Leicestershire Police has allowed me to follow my dream job after years of believing I was never suited.
I love working with communities so my goal now is to grow through the ranks within neighbourhood policing. I’ve found a passion for building those bonds within my beat area of Beaumont Leys and meeting different people. I hope I can be a role model for people with diabetes and in my beat. I want people to see me and think ‘yeah she’s got a health condition, but she’s done it.’ If I could inspire one person to chase their dream job from sharing my story, then I’d be happy.”
Peter Shorrick, Midlands and East Regional Head, Diabetes UK said, “We proudly support around one million people diagnosed with diabetes in the Midlands, through events, support groups and campaigning for equity of care.
“Part of our work is to raise awareness, encouraging those with all types of diabetes to never let the condition define them. This includes all areas of a person’s life, especially their work and career choice. We’re inspired to hear that Danielle hasn’t let diabetes stop her from joining Leicestershire Police and wish her all the best in her role as a police officer.”
If you have been inspired by this story and are interested in a career with Leicestershire Police please visit our recruitment pages.
For more information about diabetes, visit the Diabetes UK website.