North Wales chief constable: "I've never had any regrets"

Reporter:

Helen Davies

MARK Polin has come a long way from his first rejected application to join the police.

He cites the 1970s cop show The Sweeney as one of the inspirations behind his career choice.

None of his family were in the force, however, and his early working life did not turn out quite as he had hoped.

“I didn’t get into the force the first time I applied,” he says. “They told me to go away and get some more work experience.”

So Mr Polin joined the civil service and worked in an unemployment office in south east London.

“I was assaulted more at that job than I have been in all my time in the police,” he recalls.

Perseverance paid off and it was second time lucky for Mr Polin, who began his policing career with the City of London Police in 1983.

“I’ve never had any regrets since I joined,” says the 47-year-old.

“I sometimes question whether I could have earned more working somewhere else, but I like the job too much to move anywhere else.”

After rising to the rank of chief inspector in London, Mr Polin moved to another Welsh force, Gwent, but left after five years to join the Gloucestershire force.

“I would never have wanted to move elsewhere but there were no vacancies for progression so I moved on to Gloucestershire. It had always been my ambition to return to Wales to work.”

Mr Polin realised this ambition eight months ago when he was appointed to take over from controversial Richard Brunstrom as chief constable for North Wales.

The only complication at the moment is that his daughter Amy, 16, and son James, 14, are still at school in Gloucestershire.

“Amy is in the first year of her A levels so we don’t want her to move schools until she’s finished them,” he explains.

“My wife, Karen, has stayed with them and we try to see each other at weekends.

“We try to spend as much time as possible up here as in Cheltenham because I think it’s important I play a part in the community.”

James is considering following in his father’s footsteps in joining the police, while daughter Amy also hopes to join the emergency services by becoming a paramedic.

It was a condition of Mr Polin becoming chief constable that he learn Welsh. He admits it has not come easily – although he did achieve 100 per cent in his first Welsh exam.

“I am taking classes and I am booked to go on some residential courses to improve, “he says. “I am enjoying it, but it’s not an easy language to learn. I had to do my level two exam before I took up the post and am taking my level three sometime before November.

“I have to get a GCSE equivalent in Welsh by next year.”

When he’s not learning Welsh, the chief constable likes making the most of the countryside in the region.

“I like running and also enjoy kayaking with my daughter.

“She comes up to North Wales and we go out on the water together.”

Mr Polin is also leading a team in a 10-mile run in memory of Bill Barker, who died in the Cumbrian floods last year.

The team are raising money for the Great North Air Ambulance.

“My big passion is skiing,” he enthuses. This inspired his motto – ‘Life should not be measured by the number of breaths we take but by the number of moments that take your breath away’.

“It goes back to standing at the top of a mountain when you’re skiing and having your breath taken away by the scenery,” he says.

But the chief admits he is not enjoying as much free time as he would like.

“It’s not always easy to get quality time with my family but they are going to be moving up here after Amy has done her A levels.

“If I had a priority to improve anything in my personal life it would be to get a better work life balance.

“That’s the feedback I’ve had from my wife anyway.”

See full story in the Leader

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