Who is the Bravest of them all?
Life might not always be like an action movie but for one of the country’s most
courageous police officers, PC Alex Stypulkowski, it has its fair share of drama. UP
for Uni caught up with Alex to find out how he earned his title…
Why were you named Bravest Police Officer?
I was on duty in Petersfield and was called to a situation where a man, who’s known to be
dangerous, was threatening people. I was alone when he confronted me with a screwdriver,
saying: ‘You are going to die.’ I tackled him to the ground and he stabbed me in the neck
and back. Then my colleague came around the corner and the man ran off. My adrenaline
kicked in so I got up, we chased after him and managed to arrest him.
What was it like to win the award?
It was a fantastic honour and I’m very proud, but it’s not only about me. The other finalists
were just as deserving and police officers across the country regularly do things like that.
Because I got injured it was reported and brought to people’s attention, whereas others
involved in similar situations who luckily escape getting hurt, go unnoticed.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
It’s rewarding to help people feel safe, whether it’s being part of a team helping someone
escape domestic violence or assisting an elderly person frightened by anti-social behaviour
(like having things thrown at their house). I also try to work with those doing it, to help them
understand that what might seem like harmless fun can make somebody feel unsafe in their
own home. It doesn’t have to be a million-pound drug bust to be worthwhile.
What are the worst bits?
The positives far outweigh the negatives but we do work long and anti-social hours including
Christmas. We see some grim things at times and it is never easy to pass on a death message.
Why did you join the police?
It sounds cheesy but I wanted to help people. I’m realistic about what we can achieve but it’s
a massive bonus to feel you’re doing something good. Plus, I like to be out and about doing
a variety of things and don’t like being sat in an office all day.
Why did you study a foundation degree in Police Studies at the University of Portsmouth?
It’s interesting to study things like criminology and sociology. It’s also directly relevant to
work because we learn the logic behind some of the things we have to do. New recruits in
Hampshire study for a qualification so this means I can compete for promotions.
What makes a good police officer?
Being able to talk to people is the most important thing a police officer can do. The vast
majority of conflicts are resolved by communication. Unlike on TV, sticking someone in the
back of the van is a last resort. Team work is key because there’s very little you can achieve
in isolation. The police is one massive team. The Scouts teaches these skills and gives you
the idea of a command structure. You also need to be resilient. Not just physically strong, but also emotionally tough enough to have another crack at problems that don’t go away and not be too disheartened when things don’t work.
What’s your advice to young people hoping to join a force?
I’d strongly recommend being a police officer as a career. Joining an organisation like the
scouts is useful because it teaches teamwork and gives you an idea of how the police force is structured.
It’s important to be aware of the realities, so do some research. We do get to drive fast cars
but that’s a small amount of your time, it’s not all excitement.
Be prepared for a lot of commitment to becoming a police officer. Most forces ask you to
have some university or college-based study followed by work as a volunteer special
constable or a police community support officer (PCSO) and they eventually recruit officers
Want to be a police officer?
Starting salary: £19,000–£22,000 per year depending on experience
- You must be at least 18.
- Be a British, EU, or Commonwealth citizen or have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.
- You will have to pass written assessments, a fitness test and medical examination.
- Many forces require a pre-join qualification such as a Police Law and Community Certificate (PLC), Police Knowledge Certificate or A Levels.
- You may not be able to join if you have been convicted of certain crimes, although
someone with minor convictions or cautions could still get in.
Hampshire Constabulary require:
- A pass at 60 per cent or above in a Police, Law and Community (PLC) course.
- Full manual driving license.
- Live in or near Hampshire.