Bexhill woman was motivated to join the police after dealing with brother’s suicide

A Bexhill woman who helped raise awareness for mental health charities after the sudden death of her brother said her desire to be there for others motivated her to join the police.

Hannah Richards. Picture supplied by Sussex Police SUS-210128-164126001
Hannah Richards. Picture supplied by Sussex Police SUS-210128-164126001

PC Hannah Richards is currently training with the East Sussex Dedicated Coaching Unit of the force, based in Polegate.

On August 26, 2017, her brother Sam took his own life on the day of his 20th birthday.

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After his death, Hannah helped raise thousands of pounds for mental health charities.

The Richards family SUS-180706-104417001

In 2018, Hannah won a regional Daily Mirror Pride of Britain award for her devoted charity work to help prevent suicide and support hose affected.

Speaking this week, Hannah, from Bexhill said: “Having been on the receiving end of bad news from police officers, I feel I can empathise and demonstrate a great deal of compassion to victims of crime and those who have experienced sudden loss.

“I spoke publicly about my brother’s suicide in the media to raise awareness and help create positive change. It was this desire make a difference and be there for others at their time of greatest need that motivated me to join the police.

“It’s been a challenging time to join up but I want to help the community and support the vulnerable at this time. Even the smallest gestures can make a world of difference to someone at the moment.”

Hannah is one 18 officers recruited in the force’s latest uplift in police numbers, which saw Sussex Police recruit 129 additional officers in this financial year thanks to extra funding.

Since heading out on the streets during the festive season, the force’s first ‘fast track detectives’ have been making arrests, and supporting police operations during the Covid pandemic.

They are amongst the first officers nationally to enter policing through a new two-year detective constable training programme for degree-holders that will help accelerate the development of specialist officers to meet the ever-evolving nature of 21st Century crime.

Before specialising, the new recruits are gaining a grounding as uniformed PCs in frontline response under the guidance of experienced coaches in the force’s six dedicated coaching units. Alongside them are fellow new officers on the police constable degree apprenticeship (PCDA),

Four weeks in, the new officers have attended a variety of incidents, including road traffic collisions, sudden deaths, domestic incidents and burglaries, as well as undertaking some high visibility Covid patrols. They have made their first arrests, including for drink-driving, drug-driving, assault and shop-lifting.

They have supported community investigation teams and police operations tackling knife crime and road traffic offences, as well as carrying out warranted searches of properties and persons and taking statements.

PC Hannah Richards made her first arrest on her sixth shift after she, her coach PC Nick Funnell and fellow DC DHEP Nandi Luthuli responded to a 999 call and pursued a shoplifting suspect on foot.

He was charged on suspicion of shoplifting and a further five charges for outstanding offences, according to police.

Her handling of the case file earned her the praise of a supervisor in CID.

“It gave me a confidence boost,” she said afterwards. “And I was pleased to get my first one under my belt. It’s been a steep learning curve but I am enjoying it.”