I’ve done various jobs since I was 17 so I suppose I’ve become quite used to that ‘first-day-at-the-office’ feeling. Nothing, however, can quite prepare you for your first day as a police officer. After completing the Police Now Summer Academy at the end of August I was posted to Edmonton Green Ward in Enfield. Before I arrived I’d had a few “if you can do it there, you can do it anywhere” comments but I couldn’t wait to start. Landing on my Borough was always going to be a nerve-wracking experience. Luckily, it’s also been a rewarding one.
In particular, I’ve been incredibly lucky to work with some remarkable colleagues. This has meant that there has been a huge amount of accumulated wisdom to draw on. These colleagues are amongst the greatest assets policing has and in Edmonton Green they are already held in high respect throughout the ward. Over the last couple of months I’ve been out on patrol quite a bit and have found that I’ve gained a new understanding of how people view the police and what really works to build the public’s trust in what we’re doing.
Building the public’s confidence really is the key to enabling us to do the things we need to do to transform people’s local communities. After all, we can’t police in a vacuum. How we are viewed by local residents, partners, visitors and business owners influences what we are able to do and how effective we can be as police officers.
So far, I have prioritised getting to know the various communities in our ward by visiting community centres, places of worship and care homes. I have attended local churches and mosques, made contact with homeless support workers and listened to residents in their homes. I’ve done this because I think that understanding our local communities is critical if local residents are to have confidence in what we’re doing. By being visible and out on patrol as much as I can, I can ensure that I am seen and local people will start to get to know who I am. Once they get to know me they’ll see more than just a uniform. By seeing an officer that they know the public will hopefully start to feel comfortable providing us with intelligence – who on their estate is intimidating other residents, who down their road is causing problems for others and who in their block is dealing drugs. Without this information, the sort of work that was described by my colleague in the last Police Now blog post simply can’t happen – and that’s the work that we need more of to help people live in peace in their communities.
That’s not to say that over the last couple of months there haven’t been warrants executed, individuals arrested, suspects questioned or crimes solved but I recognise that my role as a police officer working on a community policing team is dedicated to a single community for a reason. By building trust, we can stop those who are ruining the lives of others. Where possible, prevention is better than cure and proactive better than reactive.
Sadly one of our fantastic colleagues will soon be moving on to pastures new. It is my job to make sure that the work of building the public’s trust and confidence in policing in Edmonton Green doesn’t fall back. Police Now trained us to work in local communities because of a recognition of the importance of the work done by officers in those communities. Policing is facing some tough times at the moment so it’s going to be a big challenge – but then we didn’t sign up thinking it would be easy.