A hero police officer who’s talked down countless suicidal men and women from a world-famous bridge is calling on others to make a difference by joining the police.
Inspector Gavin Gilmore, a nationally trained hostage and crisis negotiator, is on course to become one of the most senior ethnic minority police officers in North Wales Police if he successfully completes his Chief Inspector promotion process later this year.
The multi award-winning cop, who was once honoured for his bravery after stepping in to apprehend a machete-wielding offender following a serious assault, said he could not have picked out a more challenging or rewarding career for himself.
Insp Gilmore was speaking as North Wales Police launched its latest drive to recruit more officers.
The window for applications is open from August 18 to August 29 and details can be found on the North Wales Police website www.northwales.police.uk
The dad-of-one, who is currently Wrexham Rural District Inspector, joined the force in 2007 at the age of 24 following a three-year stint as a chemical engineer.
The 40-year-old studied for a degree at Manchester Metropolitan University but said the idea of a policing career had always appealed to him.
Despite strong disapproval from his father who was keen for him to become a doctor, Insp Gilmore signed up and said it was the best decision he has ever made.
“For me it was the right time. I had reached the age of 24 and had a lifetime of experiences already, coming from a background of divorced parents. It does make you grow up pretty quickly,” he said.
“I also come from a mixed-race background. My dad was Mauritian and of Hindu faith and my mother is white.
“My father never wanted me to join the police. He preferred engineering or a career in the NHS and had aspirations of me becoming a doctor. When I joined, I had the added complication of going against my father’s wishes.
“When I told him my plans, he was quite against it. I was born in the early 80s and it was very much a different world. It was difficult to change the views of someone who had lived through the Brixton riots in 1981. Even when I got promoted my dad was still concerned for me and asked if I was sure that policing was for me.
“I’m now 15 years into my career and going for my promotion to Chief Inspector. If I pass, I will be the most senior minority ethnic police officer in the force which just shows how quickly you can go through the ranks if you give it your best.
“If you want to implement change in the police, you have to get yourself in a position where you implement the change. Policing is evolving and while there is still a way to go, the Chief Constable is really pushing to make a difference.”
After completing his initial training, Insp Gilmore joined Wrexham North and undertook a variety of roles before completing his initial sergeant qualifications and moving to Mold, Flintshire, as part of the response team.
After 18 months, he passed his inspector exams and moved into an acting inspector role at Flintshire South and Flintshire North where he continued to build his evidence for the rank before returning to Wrexham in charge of Wrexham Rural District.
During the past 15 years, Insp Gilmore has amassed a wealth of qualifications including high-level national training as a crisis and hostage negotiator.
It is these specific skills that has seen him deal with multiple incidents involving suicidal people on the Menai Bridge on Anglesey in addition to resolving dangerous hostage situations.
He has also trained as a firearms officer, public safety commander and advanced driver and is currently completing a Master’s Degree in Policing and Law Enforcement Leadership at Liverpool’s John Moores University.
“I’ve talked lots of people off bridges including Menai Bridge, I’ve talked people off roofs when they’re threatening officers or other people. I’ve dealt with situations where people have committed crimes and have threatened to burn down buildings and large scale public disorder incidents,” he said.
“I’ve investigated gangs bringing drugs into North Wales and was involved in breaking up an operation involving the supply of drugs from Merseyside into North Wales.
“This is a really complex job. You’re taking people’s liberty away and need to fully understand your legislative powers. You’re given great responsibility as a police officer and you need to fully appreciate the powers warranted to you.
“You’re not only dealing with victims of crime but communities as well and your own officers’ welfare. Police officers deal with death all day long and their welfare is paramount.
“There are so many career paths in the police, it’s so varied. If you have an affinity for investigations, you can go into CID, if you have an affinity for driving you can go into roads policing.
“I’ve not looked back since 2007, it has really opened my eyes. You have to remain fit and agile, of course, and as society evolves so do you. Every day is a school day.”
Insp Gilmore, whose wife is a serving North Wales police officer, now uses his personal experiences to help other minority ethnic officers and staff coming through the ranks as deputy chair of North Wales Police’s Black and Asian Police Association (BAPA).
“We support ethnic minority staff and officers who join us, especially when they are suffering periods of stress-related illnesses. We also use a buddy system for new officers so they don’t feel isolated,” he said.
“For me as an Inspector going on to become a Chief Inspector and becoming the most senior minority ethnic officer in the force, this shows other people from a similar background you can go up the ranks and that you shouldn’t view ethnicity as a barrier because it’s not.
“There are support networks within the police to help you through, we are not isolated and on our own. We have a welfare team in place offering whatever support is needed. There really is no better time to join.”
For more details about how to apply go to www.northwales.police.uk