I was fortunate to be a Stream Manager during the 2019 Summer Academy where I was responsible for a group of Sergeants and PCs from the Metropolitan Police Service, Kent Police and Essex Police. I would describe this past summer as one of the most rewarding in my 13 years as a police officer and there are a number of reasons for this.
The first thing I loved about being seconded to Police Now was the opportunity to lead a national program that is increasing its positive impact in forces and making a genuine difference to our most troubled neighbourhoods. There is nowhere to hide as a Stream Manager.
You are accountable for your team and their performance. A level of responsibility I relished.
During the summer I had the freedom to develop and embed a positive working culture where almost anything was possible. During the Syndicate Lead Course (a two-week training period for Inspectors and Sergeants) one of the Sergeants stood up at the end and made a point to a room of 50 people that he had never worked somewhere like it! Everyone was positive and eager to impart their recent and relevant front-line policing knowledge and practices onto a group of knowledge hungry PCs. The enthusiasm was palpable.
The summer was challenging both personally and professionally…but in a positive way.
Being away from home and family can prove difficult, though I found it helped us enjoy family time more when I was home on rest days with frequent days out around the South East being penned in before I even set foot at the Summer Academy.
From a professional perspective, the days are long and challenging. This fostered a close-knit team where any issues with learning or welfare could be identified and addressed quickly. I cannot overstate how much of a family we became over the summer. We were able to support each other when external issues came up and everyone was keen to take on extra work and responsibilities such as teaching extra classes when needed at short notice. Regardless of difference, our officers’ personalities and experiences complimented each other. Living and working together during a very hot summer could have created issues however our collective moaning about the heat and evenings socialising resulted in an excellent team working ethos across streams.
The breakup of lessons and content during the days as well as lesson styles ensured the days rarely felt as long as they were. There was frequent downtime during the days where we would be able to meet informally as a team and keep everyone motivated and on track to ensure the best possible teaching could take place. During field training days, I managed to go out to where our officers were based and ensure they were getting the right learning, supporting the sergeants and addressing any issues. Seeing the officers putting their learning into practice was a highlight of the academy for me.
Another noticeable positive all officers noted over the summer was the way in which feedback was taken and acted upon. Police Now have a strong emphasis on reflection regardless of role within the organisation and academy and are keen to develop themselves through reflection and feedback. These are not just words, and this made a difference to the credibility of the programme. What this also encouraged was the confidence in myself to be able to actively challenge processes or learning content over the summer and work with our partner forces to ensure the programme continues to be fit for purpose. During Visitor Days I was fortunate enough to speak with chief officers and staff from our partner forces which helped to build relationships cross-border and share better working practices. The networking opportunities were significant.
I put a strong emphasis on the development of my team and ensured they all had development plans post Summer Academy. We keep in contact and will have the opportunity to meet up at future Police Now events.
I would recommend the role of Stream Manager to any Inspector or aspiring Inspector who relishes responsibility, makes the most of networking opportunities and can create a positive working environment. Your teams are a reflection of you and are yours to mould.
Apply. You won’t regret it.
Anthony Cheeseman, Acting Inspector, Sussex Police