Former refugee PC Sanjar Najibi supports Afghan refugees in Surrey
Wednesday 15 February 2023
Police Constable Sanjar Najibi arrived in the UK aged 5, alongside his family, as an Afghan refugee. Two decades on, he joined Surrey Police via Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme and has been using his personal experiences and language skills to support over 200 Afghan refugees in Elmbridge, Surrey.
Sanjar is fluent in Dari, Pashto and Hindi and has used his language skills to build trust and confidence among the refugee community in Elmbridge. Alongside the Elmbridge Neighbourhood Policing Team, local charity Big Leaf Foundation, and Elmbridge Borough Council, Sanjar organised meet and greet sessions and delivered presentations about UK law, available support and who to call in an emergency. Together, they also organised a community football event for Afghan children and a cricket match for the adults, with a number of policing colleagues volunteering their off-duty time to take part.
PC Sanjar Najibi, who studied Law at the University of West London before joining Police Now’s programme in 2021, said: “It’s amazing to see the positive impact we’ve had on many of the refugees living in Elmbridge. Their attitude towards the police has completely changed and now when I visit, I’m often greeted with smiles, handshakes, and high-fives – far from the suspicion and fear we first encountered.
“Having faced many of the same challenges as them, I aspire to be a good role model to those in my community. Many of the children and teenagers have said that one day they hope to join the police just like me and I often receive personal requests to speak with refugees who have become victims of crime due to my language skills and the trusting relationships I have built. Members of the refugee community now feel more confident disclosing intelligence or coming to us for support, including offering key information regarding drug use in the area and reporting hate crimes, public order or domestic abuse.
“I am proud to be a Police Now officer. Although I was initially concerned about how I would be treated in the police as an ethnic minority officer, I have received lots of support from my sergeant, Police Now, and the Surrey Police Association of Culture & Ethnicity (SPACE) and feel at home on my neighbourhood policing team.
“I hope to be a trailblazer and a role model, showing others that they’re welcome in the service and have a unique contribution to bring to the police. I aspire to encourage and support Afghan officers as they join the ranks, affording them the same great start to their career that I received.”
Nosheen Oezcan, Bridging Accommodation Team Leader at Elmbridge Borough Council said: “Sanjar is an invaluable extended member of our team. He has always been attentive towards the detail of each case and his responses have been well communicated with excellent follow-up. Sanjar has built trust and his understanding of the Afghan culture has been critical when supporting Afghan refugees.”
Applications for Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme are currently open for talented graduates who want to positively transform communities and become leaders in policing and in society.
For more information on the stats referenced above, please see Police Now’s latest Impact Report here.