In the heart of government: PC Polhill on his secondment to the office of the Minister of State for Crime, Policing and Fire
Wednesday 2nd August 2023
Police Constable Sam Polhill joined Essex Police in 2021 via Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme and has recently completed a secondment in the heart of UK government, working for the office of the Minister of State for Crime, Policing and Fire, the Rt Hon Chris Philp.
Sam has worked for the last two years as a neighbourhood police officer in Castle Point, Essex, tackling crime and anti-social behaviour and building confidence in policing among local communities. The secondment enabled him to share his on-the-ground experience with national decision-makers and bring fresh perspective and insight back to his force.
During the second year of the Police Now National Graduate Leadership Programme, participants are given the opportunity to apply for a highly competitive external secondment with a partner organisation or seek an internal attachment with a specialist unit within their police force. The opportunity is built into Police Now’s programme to allow officers to experience other areas of policing, work with external partners and contribute to bringing policing and society closer together; ultimately, to improve confidence in the police and lead to more effective policing.
Police Constable Sam Polhill
“I was incredibly pleased to secure such a brilliant opportunity working at the heart of government in the office of the Minister of State for Crime, Policing and Fire, the Rt Hon Chris Philp, which plays an important role in policing. I spent my time supporting the minister in his role, liaising between him and Home Office officials, so there was much to learn and support with during the secondment.
“I was thrown into the deep end and spent my first day in the House of Commons officials’ box, supporting the team as the minister debated the House of Lords’ amendments to the 2023 Public Order Bill. The team was involved in providing and relaying relevant information to the minister during the debate to assist in providing accurate answers to MPs’ questions. The following day, I was back in Parliament, observing a session of the Home Affairs Select Committee, where a group of MPs were questioning the minister on a range of issues including the Baroness Casey Review, the policing of protests, the Coronation, and the Police Uplift Programme. It was a whirlwind start to the secondment, but it was hugely eye-opening to see democracy at work and the scrutiny rightly placed on MPs and the laws being passed through government.
“The secondment was primarily based at the Home Office in Westminster, with my day-to-day role involving in a number of tasks including writing submissions for the minister, attending briefings, and offering operational experience and advice to the team. I regularly received reports from Home Office officials which I would read, summarise, and offer opinion on, before sending to the minister for his consideration. The submissions I produced focused on policy areas including national strategy for combatting drugs, firearms licencing and legislation, domestic homicide and case file redaction. It was a privilege to offer my own comments and opinions and know that these may have had an impact on national decision-making.
“Throughout the secondment, I attended one-to-one meetings with civil servants from across the Home Office, including those on the Serious Violence Unit and Emergency Response and Criminal Justice teams. I also attended and took notes for a meeting between the minister and an HMICFRS representative, and a meeting with Home Office directors and officials reviewing the police dismissals process. I was able gain insight into varied areas of policing and better understand the ‘bigger picture’ and the rationale of senior decision-makers, which can easily feel disconnected with day-to-day work on the beat.
“Overall, the secondment has made me a more well-rounded officer. It has helped me connect my role as a neighbourhood PC with national policies and the work the Home Office does to support us. Attending Parliament and hearing from senior figures about police misconduct and dismissals has also reaffirmed for me the importance of improving public confidence in policing and upholding procedural justice. The opportunity to undertake the secondment as part of the National Graduate Leadership Programme was one of the reasons I decided to apply to Police Now and it has been a fantastic experience. These four weeks have helped reshape my understanding of policing and I hope to carry the insight I have gained long into the future.”