Superintendent Gill Murray

Ever wonder what it’s like to be a high ranking woman police officer whilst trying to balance home life? Superintendent Gill Murray, sub-divisional commander for the East region, shares her experiences of policing and how the profession has changed over the years. Here she talks about the challenges she has faced during her career and the pros and cons of the job.

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Superintendent Gill Murray joined British Transport Police in 1990 as a PC and worked her way to the top, being appointed as superintendent for the East Sub division in 2014. Here she talks about the challenges and the perks of the job, how policing has changed over the years and how she manages to strike a balance between work and life.

Can you give readers some background into what made you want to become a police officer and what did you have to do to join the ranks?

I grew up in a very small Scottish sea side town, I was always interested in being a PE teacher, loved sport and team sports in particular. I had two jobs that I worked after school. One was in a supermarket and the other was in various pubs. I became interested in customer and public service, which led to junior supervisor positions. 

A career in the police became an exciting prospect when my brother joined the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and a family friend was in the British Transport Police in Scotland. I sought the hustle and bustle of city life, a complete change from the sleepy world I came from and far removed from my reality of 19 years. I wanted the challenge and I wanted to prove I could do something bigger and better for myself.

Did you face any challenges in becoming a police officer and also working your way up to becoming superintendent?

Perseverance – I had some knock backs along the way. I applied to several forces including Scotland and MPS, I never gave up. The role at BTP came up first in the end. I started at Victoria rail station, which was a challenge. I experienced Gill Murrayviolent prolific offenders who tended to frequent the station and more often than not any arrests or attempts to make arrests would become violent.  I learned fast, but not without the knocks, a chipped tooth and a few visits to the dentist. It did make me reconsider my position, but a good supportive sergeant helped me keep going. I had lots of opportunities, early CID attachments with busy BTP departments. Hard work, determination, perseverance and some sacrifice helped me succeed. 

I didn’t consider being a supervisor for 13 years I was having too much fun in specialist roles. It also took me a few goes before I passed. 

I also felt experience, knowledge and credibility were key ingredients to becoming a well-respected supervisor.

The promotion wasn’t easy and I found the process tough, I learnt a lot about myself, about being resilient and patient during these times, but the most important thing that I learnt was to remain honest and true to myself, integral to my own values and that of the service.

I have had good role models, good support and those who believed in my ability, who have helped me learn a variety of roles, pushed me a little during times when I perhaps lacked confidence, gave me honest feedback and helped me find the opportunities. This has all held me in good stead and how I have reached the rank of superintendent.

What do you enjoy most about your role as superintendent and what do you enjoy the least?

I really enjoy being able to make a difference, having a voice for the people on the ground, the ability to influence change, supporting our front line officers and staff and being a part of the bigger picture. I enjoy working with industry and stakeholders, finding new ways of doing things together that helps make us a great national police service. 

The restructure has led to increased responsibility and with that comes more sacrifice; however, there is much to sing about in being a superintendent that far outweighs any negatives. I love my job. It’s fast it’s furious, it keeps me on my toes and I am constantly learning every day. Working so closely with colleagues from the industry at such an iconic location at St Pancras/Kings Cross is very rewarding and demanding. I wouldn’t change it.

How has policing for women changed since you started your career?

I joined in January 1990. We were in skirts, had handbags, wooden batons - half the size of a ruler that fitted into your skirt pocket or handbag! grey overcoats and trousers, which we would have to wear for when we policed football matches.

The jokes of making the tea, dealing with women and children were all true back then.  There were only a handful of female officers (WPC) in those days. How we have progressed….. it’s fantastic to have been able to see that transition.

As a high ranking police officer how do you manage to achieve a work life balance?

It’s not easy there have had to be sacrifices. I work long days, long weeks but I make up for that as often as I can.  I have chosen to move home a few times in order to develop myself through promotion and I am glad I did, its opened my eyes and perspective in BTP policing and how it differs between divisions, sectors, sub divisions and departments. I find time to keep fit, and socialise I have a great family and a good bunch of friends that keep me young.  Holidays are key and taking rest when I can.

What advice would you give to young women thinking of becoming a police officer?

Go for it, it’s a fantastic job! It’s changed for the better since I joined, there are so many opportunities you just have to work hard, be determined, resilient and be prepared to make some sacrifice. Don’t be shy at trying new departments and roles it will definitely give you that variety of experience that develops your wider thinking and understanding of the policing world. Most of all enjoy it!

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