This week we’ve invited another of our participants from the 2015 Police Now cohort to write about their experience since graduating from the Police Now Summer Academy. PC Alice McNeil is the Dedicated Ward Officer for Plaistow South in Newham, East London.
Taking the time to reflect on my experiences since I was posted to Newham has made me realise just how much of a whirlwind it has been. I’m fast beginning to understand that each shift goes so quickly because no two days in the life of a police officer are the same. Each brings a new challenge, a new laugh, and a new opportunity to make a difference to someone’s life.
Ok, that sounded cliché, but let me give you a small insight into the most interesting things that I did this week. Starting small, I have been helping an elderly lady who is suffering with repeated and targeted anti social behaviour outside her house. The first time I met her, I was really moved by her vulnerability and her desperation. What seems like a trivial issue on face value was having a significant impact on her life and I was determined that I would not let this continue. I contacted the council and booked a meeting with them that day. Together, we planned our coordinated response, and booked a meeting with the resident to discuss this together. Immediately, she felt that someone was fighting her corner. This led to interviews being conducted with the families causing the trouble, and injunctions being placed on their tenancy if their behaviour did not stop. I’m finding that sometimes the smallest bit of help can have the biggest of impacts.
Raising the excitement bar slightly, I received intelligence that several groups of drug dealers have been using my ward as their stomping ground. I gathered my team together and we decided to carry out two pilot plain clothes operations as a tester to see if they were effective. (Plain clothes- I know, innovative, right?) I won’t give too much away but I spent my Saturday night down an alleyway in Newham trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. Two arrests, a drugs dog and one penalty notice later, the team shared high fives and we went home for the night.
Elsewhere, I have started leading the building of a relationship with a charity that cares for women who have been trafficked into the UK and sexually and domestically abused in the process. Whilst this is not necessarily a typical policing activity, attending their weekly meetings for the past month has overwhelmed me due to their strength, their resilience and the unconditional love they have for one another. I desperately wanted to help. Merely being present at their meetings helped to develop a mutual trust between the women and the police, and built a certain transparency of the police as an organisation; however, I knew there was more that I could do. I organised a personal safety class for the women with one of the Metropolitan Police Officer Safety trainers, as I knew that after their experiences, they felt physically vulnerable. The first class was an incredible success, filled with belly laughs and life saving information. As a result of the initial positivity in my working relationship with the charity, we are now planning more of these sessions, alongside a variety of future projects together.
I was asked to talk about the reality of life on borough. What I hope to have offered is that there is no uniform response to this; each and every person on the Police Now cohort 2015 will be having a totally unique experience and that is down to the standalone nature of policing – there is no job description, but I can guarantee that every single day will be worthwhile.