Alumni Spotlight: PC Jade Barnard, South Yorkshire Police Youth Engagement Officer
Wednesday 28th June 2023
Police Constable Jade Barnard left her job in teaching to join the policing frontline. Now, almost three years into her policing career, she is using her teaching experience to support students and schools in Royston as a Youth Engagement Officer.
Jade joined South Yorkshire Police in 2020 via Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme and spent two years working as a neighbourhood police officer in Kendray. She tells us how she strengthened community relations, reduced anti-social behaviour, and helped seize 250 pieces of evidence during a warrant – including thousands of pounds worth of cash, Class A drugs, and cannabis. She also undertook an internal attachment with the Tactical Support Group to conduct specialist searches and worked with the team to locate a murder weapon, before landing in her current role.
She has also recently secured a place on Police Now’s Frontline Leadership Programme, where she is developing her leadership skills further and preparing for a sergeant role. In this month’s Alumni Spotlight, she tells us about her policing journey so far.
“Before I joined the police service I worked as a teacher in Doncaster, and briefly in London, for just under four years. I originally studied Human Geography with Environmental Studies at the University of Hertfordshire before going on to complete my PGCE training at Sheffield Hallam University.
“Although there were lots of aspects of teaching that I enjoyed, I realised it wasn’t what I wanted to do in the long-term. I began exploring other options, knowing I still wanted a role which would allow me to make a positive impact in society and work in the community every day. I came across Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme and, to my delight, secured a place on the programme.
“I joined South Yorkshire Police in 2020 and worked as a neighbourhood police officer on the Kendray Neighbourhood Policing Team (NPT) during the two-year programme. Neighbourhood policing exposed me to a wide range of incidents from missing persons to traffic collisions and drug offences. I often focused my time on reducing anti-social behaviour (ASB) in my community.
“Whilst on patrol, I noticed members of the public referencing ongoing issues with ASB in the area, however we’d had no official reports of this at the police station. I wanted to understand the full extent of the problem, as well as build some public confidence in the police service and encourage reporting, so I visited over 50 houses in the area to gather intelligence from residents. Through a survey, I identified the top five ASB perpetrators in the area and highlighted the need to strengthen ties with the local council, so we could address the issues together.
“Alongside the Housing Management Officer at the council, I engaged with the perpetrators and investigated the root causes of their behaviour. We implemented bespoke intervention plans to divert them away from the cycle of crime – ranging from referrals to drug rehabilitation charities and mental health specialists, to housing and food support. We also relocated one individual to a new area, to separate them from a number of known nominals who were causing issues. We saw a reduction of ASB in the area thanks to the proactive intervention and improved community partnership working. Several elderly residents personally thanked me for my work, saying there were less disturbances in the evening.
“I also did a lot of work with my NPT colleagues to tackle drug-related criminality in the area. For example, I was part of an operation which involved high-visibility patrolling with the force’s police dogs, which are trained to detect people who have drugs on them. We also carried out a lot of search warrants following reports of drug-related criminality. On one of my first ever warrants I was the assigned ‘exhibits officer’, which meant I had to record and properly store all the items seized during the warrant. This turned out to be a huge job as we found over 250 exhibits, including Class A drugs, multiple cannabis plants and thousands of pounds worth of cash. We also arrested an individual after a short foot chase nearby.
“Conducting searches is something I’ve always been interested in. Police Now helped me organise an internal attachment with the force’s Tactical Support Group (TSG). The team offers tactical specialist support in a range of areas including specialist searching of major crime scenes and hands-on support during siege situations. I assisted on a search following a reported murder; through examining CCTV footage we identified an area where the murder weapon was most likely to have been disposed of and, using a specific search technique involving magnets, we located the murder weapon hidden down a drain.
“After completing Police Now’s programme, I moved into my new role as a Youth Engagement Officer, where I use my teaching knowledge and neighbourhood policing skills to support schools and students in Royston and Barnsley. The safeguarding issues I saw when I was a teacher are the issues I’m now working to resolve, as I act as the link between the neighbourhood policing team and local schools. I am currently responsible for six secondary schools and I manage a variety of cases, from safeguarding vulnerable students alongside social services to addressing long-term problems of ASB. Together, we implement appropriate and proportionate intervention plans for students who become involved with criminal activity, both as perpetrators and as victims.
“My advice to others thinking of joining the service is to utilise the support and opportunities available to you. There are lots of projects and teams to get involved with in the service. For example, alongside my day role, I am currently upskilling officers in bicycle safety during suspect pursuits; another chance for me to use my teaching skills. I have also been trained in the Police Support Unit which deals with Public Order situations such as riots and petrol threats. The training was extremely demanding but very rewarding and involved tactics to do with policing during a fire and working with police horses.
“I am also now an officer on Police Now’s Frontline Leadership Programme; a part-time course to support officers to progress from constable to sergeant rank, by improving leadership skills and looking at how to create inclusive team cultures. The course surrounds me with other ambitious and talented people from across the country, which motivates me to always push myself and has given me the skills and confidence to pursue more roles in the force. I’ve recently passed my sergeants’ exam and will soon take the next step in the promotion process. I am looking forward to seeing my long-term policing career progress, wherever it might take me.”