By Amneet Kaur
He works long hours as a junior doctor and still finds time to volunteer as a detective with West Midlands Police. Who is the modern day superhero that regularly swaps his stethoscope for solving crime?
26-year old Joht Singh Chandan is a public health registrar based at the University of Birmingham.
He’s also a volunteer detective in the police child abuse unit.
“My family and friends think I am a little bit crazy to some extent,” he said.
“I am more than happy to take on a lot of responsibility.
“If I’m completely honest, and I look at my week otherwise, I’m pretty sure I’d be wasting an evening a week anyway, so I can’t see why we can’t push others to volunteer in the same way.
“Everybody has got a skill, everybody has got something to give. Whether that’s in term of time, skills or resources, and there is always someone in your local community who could benefit from the skills that you have.
“If you’re scared about starting and scared about time, why don’t you just start, because at the end of the day you can always stop if it becomes too difficult.”
“Usually people would come to the shop to see my dad and tell him about their stories, about what is happening in their lives and Handsworth is a very diverse area, you see a lot of deprivation and what cuts and austerity means to people,” he added.
“I was also able to see the sort of medical problems people had in my community and I was thinking I want to do something to prevent that and improve the lives of communities like Handsworth. That’s one of the reasons why I got into medicine.”
As a junior doctor, Joht noticed the effects that child abuse caused in patients at a later stage of life, such as chronic diseases and mental health issues. This pushed him to wanting to do more to tackle the issue from its roots.
Despite his busy schedule – his workweek is 48 hours and he often ends up doing a lot of out of hours work too – he decided to take a step further and volunteer with the police as a detective in the child abuse unit.
He believes when people come to the hospital it is often too late to help them as they have already experienced a lot of difficulties. Instead he wanted to make sure people have a safe childhood.
While investigating, Joht deals almost every week with children that have gone through abuse.
He said: “It is heart-breaking seeing children coming to hospital bleeding, with broken bones or bruises. Often where there is abuse there is a chance to stop it from happening, and that’s the most heart-breaking thing.
“What I take away from the job is that at least I made an opportunity to try to make that child life’s better, from that day forward in a way.
“It is not a thank you that is needed in these circumstances, it is seeing the smile on a person’s face when you know they have been through hell but now they could have the environment to be happy in again. This is why volunteering for the police is important for me, because there are few other jobs where you can make that difference.”
Joht started volunteering in 2011 when he joined the Metropolitan Police Service, prior to starting medical school in London. He only got the detective role with the West Midlands Police in November last year, after passing a tough exam that no other volunteer has ever taken.
He also started his PhD at the University of Birmingham, specialising in child abuse and domestic violence, his goal is to become a consultant specialising in violence prevention.