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Wednesday 24 Sep 2014

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Police Academy UK: Usufono Latu

Usufono Latu

From: Apia, Samoa

Age: 24 years

Rank: Constable

Interests: Spends all free time with family.

Mission in the UK: To learn to shoot a gun. To find out how women can be better prepared to police the streets without a male counterpart.

Facts: There is little crime in Samoa and most is dealt with by the village families. Usufono likes to spend most of her time with her mother.

Other: Usufono comes from a place with 300 times fewer people than in the UK. Female officers in Samoa are expected to do all the paperwork so on a day to day basis she is based in the office. Her country is rooted in tradition and it is the men that go out on to the streets to deal with crime.

She is very good at her job but wants hands-on experience over and above the excessive paper work she deals with. Usufono lives with her parents and nine other relatives and has never been anywhere without them. This was her first time ever in the UK.

Why did you decide to take part in the show?

I decided to take part in the show because I wanted to make a difference in my own force as a female officer and I wanted to promote the best practice of service that we offer in our own country. As a female officer I wanted to take up challenges that I never get the chance to do in my own force like handling a firearm.

How did you find the experience?

The experience was fantastic. I have learned so much and have been exposed to a whole different world of policing that does not exist in my own country. The experience helped to build my confidence and I was very happy to get the chance to patrol in big cities that are so different to where I am from. Samoa has a very small population compared to somewhere like Birmingham.

What surprised you most about British policing?

What surprised me the most about the British police force is the community policing and the fantastic support they offer people when they are going out at night. I never thought such services would exists in such a big country.

I'd always thought the British police were tough and that they would not care so much about engaging with the community, but I was surprised that it is so much like the services we offer in Samoa in terms of protecting life and properties as well as upholding the law and apprehending offenders.

Did you pick up anything from your time with the British police that you will take back to your own force?

There is just so much that I want to take back. I know it will take time, but it will happen because I will make it happen.

One of the most important lessons I will take back is that females should have self-defence training so that they can take care of themselves when they go out on patrol on their own instead of depending so much on male officers.

The Public Order training I undertook in the UK was the most fantastic experience I've ever had in my life as a police officer. I have never been able to do that whilst in Samoa and had to come all the way to the UK to do it. Not even the male officers in Samoa have done that!

I want my males colleagues to see female officers as equals and acknowledge that we are capable of doing the same job they do every day.

What was the biggest difference between our police force and yours?

There is so much difference between my police force in Samoa and the police force in the UK.

We have very little resources compared to the UK. Our vehicles are different, our computers are different, we don't carry handcuffs or batons and we rely on the community to help us do our job.

Our police force has to ask for donors from overseas to help provide us with the resources to do our job. In the UK, the police are able to do their job because they have the proper resources in place.

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