Having published a series of blogs by members of the 2015 Police Now cohort, this week we’re going to take a perspective from someone who isn’t on the programme. PS Caroline Hay is a Sergeant in Lambeth and is managing one of the teams who have received a Police Now participant. We asked her to write what it was like managing a Police Now participant.
Email: Sgt Hay, your Ward is receiving a Police Now recruit.
Thoughts: Excellent… A what?!
Having a to-do list as long as my arm, I pondered what this meant for about 2 minutes, wearily thinking, ‘another scheme?’ Well at least it’s more staff…. Another probationer you say? Ahhh! I booked in a visit with the ‘Centre’ to find out more, and promptly clicked close on the email.
Having not thought about this again for a number of weeks I receive another email.
Email: Sgt Hay, My name is Charlotte, I am your new Police Now Recruit. I know what you’re thinking, ‘another scheme’. (Ooooh spooky, how did she know?!)
Charlotte went on to explain that she fully understands that she is a probationer and doesn’t expect preferential treatment, but that she had been afforded good training and that she would be looking to bring some new and innovative ideas. Lovely!
So it turns out that Police Now essentially produces specialised dedicated neighbourhood officers. They are in post for a minimum of two years and receive a lot of intensive training, focusing on problem solving.
For far too long, The Met have allocated neighbourhood roles to whoever happened to be on the ‘available list’; i.e. non-drivers, probationers, whoever’s had enough on response team! However if you look at recent events, what has come out of that?! Something different was needed.
The value and need for local policing is clear – the relationship with the community that enables people who think, ‘that doesn’t seem right’ to voice their views (sometimes giving us vital intelligence) to someone they know and trust.
A ward resident recently said to me, “If I see police cars in the neighbourhood I feel concerned that crime is rife. If I see Anthony [the local ward officer], I feel reassured and safe.”
Okay so you don’t get a boat, a helicopter or a fast car, but this role is extremely specialised. Engaging with a diverse community is a real skill. It takes time, patience, passion and commitment. On Lambeth we are very lucky to have some fantastic neighbourhood officers. It’s great that policing and the Met is appreciating this vital role and investing. I am a firm believer though that there is still the space and desire to invest in our current staff.
Charlotte arrived and was very lucky to be taken under the wing of Larkhall’s Dedicated Ward Officer, PC Anthony Knapman. At first I was concerned about how this dynamic would work. Anthony has been on the Ward for many years, has a lot of experience, is loved by the ward’s residents, and is fantastic and understandably protective of his job.
I needn’t have worried. Off on patrol they went… And they haven’t looked back since! I constantly call them in for a catch up, ‘helloooo, I’m the Sergeant, I’d like to know what’s going on!’ But when you have a duo who are cracking on and making a difference, it’s important to not micro manage and I am learning to step back.
Now Charlotte has found her feet, she has already produced a 100 day plan on how to improve things on the ward. I was extremely impressed. She has taken a rounded, mature and holistic approach. She has highlighted issues, discovered improvements/areas to develop and identified engagement opportunities. I already know that Charlotte will be quick to act on these and implement her ideas – she has a real determination. A problem solving package is coming our way! All of this whilst still finding her feet as a cop – impressive stuff.
So – what is it like managing a Police Now recruit? In my case, a piece of cake!