Greenwich University graduate Chris Dreyfuss knows what it’s like to be in the frontline of fighting terrorism. Following the July 7 suicide bomb attacks in London earlier this year, the 27-year-old was appointed head of three counter-terrorism teams for the British Transport Police. It’s this level of early responsibility and rapid promotion that graduates are offered on the Police High Potential Development scheme (HPD). The scheme, which is in its third year, aims to recruit and develop graduates to become the future leaders of the police service.
"Normally, when you join the police you sign up to a certain role for a couple of years," explains Chris. The difference with HPD is that you will only spend six to nine months in each post and get rapidly moved around different roles. This means you stand out within the organisation and get noticed." Since joining the scheme three years ago Chris has held a number of roles in the force, from being on the beat as a patrol officer to working in CID as a detective. Unsurprisingly, access to the scheme is tough and only 300 graduates a year are recruited. Chris believes that you have to have real passion for the job and a desire to make a difference to society.
After graduating with a 2:1 in Computing and Business, Chris worked for two years as an IT consultant, but despite the good pay and benefits, he didn’t find the work satisfying. In his own time he undertook a part-time criminal law course and was also volunteering four hours a week as a special constable. "I’d always been interested in the police and while working as a special constable I found that was what I really enjoyed," he says.
Chris decided to apply to join the police and, after passing several exams, including a physical, was offered a job. In his current role the teams he leads are responsible for counter-terrorism activities at railway stations in the southeast of England, from conducting random searches of passengers to intelligence gathering. Although he’s younger than many of the officers in his team, in terms of service and age, Chris says he hasn’t encountered any negative attitudes. "I’m very clear as to what my role is when I am leading the team and I tell them what I will expect of them and what they can expect from me," he says.
"In this job you can never predict what will happen, you don’t know what arrests you might make or where they will lead. Much has changed since the bombings and we are now policing in a very different environment."