Ever since she was a young girl, Nadia Rana dreamed of being a Police Officer, despite her father having his reservations.
However, she has enjoyed great success in her career, working her way up the ranks of Leicestershire Police, to become the current Neighbourhood Policing Area Commander for the city.
For Nadia Rana, one of her earliest childhood memories is of her family home being burgled and her Mum’s “absolute devastation” following the crime. Her entire jewellery collection had been taken – irreplaceable items which had been passed on through the generations. And what was worse, the police were unable to find the culprits… She lived in an area of high crime and felt that she just wanted to ‘fix it’.
That was the moment Nadia knew she wanted to be a police officer.
“I can just remember thinking, aged about 10: ‘don’t worry, I’m going to be a police officer and I’ll sort it out – I’m going to get your gold back!” she revealed.
As the daughter of Pakistani parents, there were fears that she wouldn’t be accepted, and that she wouldn’t be able to build a ‘solid career’ in the force.
“If you looked at serving officers at that time, there weren’t many brown faces, or even many women, so I guess this was just my Dad’s way of trying to protect his daughter,” said Nadia of the time.
“Policing was quite different back in the 80s and early 90s when we were having these conversations, so he kind of put me off the idea for a while – not because he had anything against the police. He was just protective over me”
Nadia moved to Birmingham in order to study for a career within the NHS. She studied to be a paediatric nurse, before discovering that the job wasn’t for her.
After moving to Leicester, she went on to have two children and to study at De Montfort University, before finally realising her policing ambitions in 2008.
After being accepted for a job as a response officer with Leicestershire Police, Nadia finally felt that she was on the right path, in a city and organisation where she truly belonged.
“I remember my first trip down Belgrave Road and I thought, this is what I want to be part of. The community just felt so strong and accepting – you could be who you wanted to be – you could be your true self and really belong,” she told Pukaar.
Nadia was a single mother of two daughters when she joined and worked as a response officer for ten years, before progressing to the role of Sergeant, Detective Sergeant and Operational Command Inspector.
Her current role is that of Commander for the Central Leicester Neighbourhood Policing Area (NPA).
It’s a role Nadia feels extremely privileged to do. She has enjoyed a challenging and varied career since joining the ranks of Leicestershire Police, and her father’s doubts about not being accepted vanished the moment she put on the uniform and joined the force, she says.
“It’s the best job in the world – very challenging but extremely rewarding. You do everything. I feel protective over our community and to the hundreds of officers within the station and want everyone to feel and be as safe as possible” she said of her current role.
“ When I put on my uniform each day, I genuinely feel so proud. Sometimes I think, ‘oh my god, is this really mine!’ I just feel really lucky to be part of it. ”
The doubts her father had quickly vanished when he realised the organisation she joined was truly accepting and he felt proud of her journey and career.
“One of the last things he said to me before he passed away was of how proud he was of me and the job I do,” Nadia revealed.
“The police service has changed so much since I was a young girl, which I know was a long time ago! The vibrant diversity of officers is amazing to work alongside and most importantly to understand and serve our communities. For anyone thinking of joining the police, all I can say is that we need great people like you so please come and speak to us about it.”