Saving lives and community problem-solving in Surrey: PC Archie Ridley, Alumni Spotlight
Wednesday 29th November 2023
Archie Ridley joined Surrey Police in 2020 via Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme.
As a neighbourhood police officer in Camberley, he received a commendation from the Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner for his work to reduce anti-social behaviour and illegal car meets at the local business park. Using the in-depth community knowledge he developed on the neighbourhood team, he was also able to support the Major Crime Team to identify a person connected to a murder investigation and save the life of a woman suffering from a mental health crisis.
Since completing Police Now’s two-year programme, he has remained dedicated to neighbourhood policing and relocated to the Godalming Specialist Neighbourhoods Team, where he has worked to support the new Ukrainian population and build public trust and confidence in the police.
Read more below in this month’s Alumni Spotlight.
Police Constable Archie Ridley
“I joined Surrey Police in 2020 via Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme, after studying Classical Civilisation with Study in Europe at the University of Warwick and then working behind a bar for just under a year.
“Growing up, I had a deep respect for the police because my grandfather and great grandfather both worked for Surrey Police. However, I became disillusioned in my college and university years because of the growing number of misconduct cases. When I was considering my career options post-university, policing was the last thing I had in mind, but Police Now’s mission to transform communities and build public trust and confidence in the service really spoke to me. A huge part of me wanted to make my family proud and continue my grandfather and great-grandfather’s legacy.
“I joined Camberley Specialist Neighbourhoods Team and began work with my colleagues to engage with the community and proactively tackle criminality. I was proud to receive a commendation from the Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner for my work to reduce anti-social behaviour, in relation to illegal car meets that were happening at a local business park. Hundreds of cars would gather in the public space and break multiple traffic laws by racing, doing donuts and speeding. The drivers and gatherers were often disruptive and caused property damage and distress to the public.
“I wrote a Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) plan to tackle the issues, alongside my neighbourhood policing colleagues, the Designing Out Crime team and Surrey Heath Borough Council. Together we initiated a large response, engaging with the affected business owners to gather evidence and subsequently issue over 200 Community Protection Warning notifications letters. Thanks to the multi-agency work, we successfully bid for a noise camera trail for the A331 and obtained funding to implement target hardening measures. The problem was resolved, and the results of a before-and-after survey showed an improvement in public confidence in policing in the area.
“Another incident that sticks with me from that time was when a woman suffering a mental health crisis tried to jump off the side of a building, but I managed to grab her just in time and pull her to safety. Although she didn’t want to accept help at the time, I’ll always know I managed to save her life that day. As a neighbourhood police officer, sometimes you work on proactive problem-solving plans to tackle crime and sometimes it’s the small actions like this that make a huge difference.
“As part of Police Now’s programme, I was able to go on a four-week internal attachment to the Major Crime Team, where they were investigating a murder at the time. I was able to identify a person connected to the investigation, using the information the Major Crime Team had and the knowledge of the local area that I’d developed whilst on the neighbourhood team. I had always considered moving into the Major Crime Team in the future, but being able to use my local knowledge to support them made me realise how much I loved my neighbourhood role.
“After completing the programme, I remained a neighbourhood officer but relocated to the Godalming Specialist Neighbourhoods Team. I quickly became the ‘problem-solving’ officer on the team and am often asked to analyse data or take on long-term projects to proactively reduce crime and build community relationships. I am also currently the Special Constable SPOC (Single Point of Contact) in Godalming, working to ensure that Specials in the area are effectively integrated into the team so we can best support one another and the public.
“Last year, we had a large influx of Ukrainian refugees who were resettled in the area after being displaced from their home country. Many did not know how to react to UK police or how we operate, and I noticed that some were triggered by our sirens – which to them sounded similar to bomb warnings. Working with the local council, I represented the force at community engagement events aimed at building a positive dialogue with the refugee community. I put together information packs – both in English and Ukrainian – to explain how we could support them, who to contact in case of emergencies, and point to useful local services and charities. I also showed the children inside the police car and demonstrated the lights and sirens, which helped get them used to the noise and not be afraid. It was a useful way to introduce myself to families in the area and begin building positive relationships.
“Though there are many areas of policing that interest me, I would like to stay in neighbourhood policing as long as I can, as I love getting out and speaking to the public and focusing on long-term problem-solving. My future ambitions also include going for promotion next year. I have just started Police Now’s Frontline Leadership Programme, with the aim of developing my leadership skills further and preparing for my sergeants’ exam in March.”