Police Now officers tackling crime and supporting communities in Thames Valley
Monday 7 June 2021
Police Now’s mission is to transform communities by recruiting, developing and inspiring diverse leaders in policing.
Officers on Police Now’s programmes develop skills in leadership and problem-solving. They share a commitment to public service, fighting crime and inspiring social change alongside their colleagues.
Speaking of her role as a neighbourhood officer, PC Abhi Bajwa, of Thames Valley Police, said: “An officer who can relate to community members understands the concerns or difficulties they face. That officer is able to use an approach or introduce initiatives that from their own understanding and experiences would make an impact in reducing the types of crimes the community is facing.”
Police Now has recruited a total of 1,830 officers across 33 forces in the UK, including Thames Valley Police. Chief Constable John Campbell has partnered with Police Now for the past five years, with 45 police constables and 11 detective constables joining the force via this route.
Police Now consistently recruits more officers who are women or from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds compared to any other entry route into policing. Police Now recruitment data shows that of those starting on Police Now’s programmes in Thames Valley in 2019-20, 27 per cent identified as coming from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background and nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) identified as women.
Officers on Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme have been working alongside their colleagues within their local neighbourhood teams and are contributing to tackling crime and anti-social behaviour in Thames Valley.
PC Abhi Bajwa successfully blocked a repeat offender who plagued the community with a string of anti-social behaviour incidents that spanned over 20 years, including harassment, racially aggravated public order, assaults, threats to life, intimidation and malicious communication. These crimes were often difficult to take to court due to evidential thresholds, but the demand on PC Bajwa’s team from this individual was significant.
She began gathering evidence to seek a civil injunction and spoke with numerous neighbours and family members to document proof of the anti-social behaviour. PC Bajwa managed to take her file to court where a civil injunction was granted, removing the individual from their home and the local policing area due to the severity of the offences. The order prevented the offender from returning to most of High Wycombe and from contacting 11 named people, as well as banning specific behaviour. When the injunction was breached, the offender was given prison sentences and as a result, crime reports relating to that individual fell dramatically.
Co-founder of Police Now and former Detective Chief Inspector
Q&A with Police Constable Abhilasha Bajwa
Neighbourhood Police Officer
National Graduate Leadership Programme Participant
Thames Valley Police
Police Now is trying to increase diversity in the force. Do you think having a force that better reflects the community it serves helps to bring down crimes like anti-social behaviour and why?
Yes, diversity is incredibly important and beneficial for a number of reasons. Diversity within the police force sparks conversations which challenge the way things are typically done, ultimately leading to forward thinking changes within the police. An important factor in policing communities is being able to understand the cultural difficulties a community faces when they have interactions with the police. For example, hesitation towards reporting crimes to the police; so if the public interact with officers who are from a similar background and truly understand their concerns, this allows the public to relate to the officer and they may be more inclined to go through with supporting a prosecution, particularly for domestic incidents. Officers who reflect a community don’t have to simply do this through being culturally or religiously similar, this reflection may be through educational similarities or the area they have grown up in. An officer who can relate to community members understands the concerns or difficulties they face. That officer is able to use an approach or introduce initiatives that, from their own understanding and experiences, would make an impact in reducing the types of crimes the community is facing.
What was the most important lesson you took from your training with Police Now that has enabled you to deal with crime / support your community?
For myself, it was recognising that I am different but understanding how being different is a good thing. Before joining the police force, I hadn’t realised how much my background and culture influences the way I think and the decisions I made. Although this wasn’t explicitly taught at Police Now, when I started training I realised that I needed to make use the of the skills that I have accumulated through my life experiences which may be vastly different to the experience of other people in the room. These skills would have come from my cultural experiences, my upbringing and from my family’s experiences. I have carried this mind-set with me throughout my time as a police officer and it has allowed me to feel encouraged when I am in the minority, rather than feeling different in a negative aspect. I recognise that the viewpoints and suggestions I make may be different from the norm and I use this to my advantage to promote a different approach when policing crimes or supporting a community.
Have you implemented any new initiatives to reduce ASB or burglary crimes in your community?
Yes, I introduced a Civil Injunction on a hugely problematic individual in my local policing area (LPA), High Wycombe. This individual had been causing huge demand on the police for at least 20 years. They had been to prison a few times for some crimes but when it came to ASB, things were a little tricky. Often the ASB crimes reported by neighbours or family members were difficult to take to court due to evidential thresholds. The type of crime reports included harassment, public order including racially aggravated public order, assaults, threats to life, verbal abuse, intimidation and malicious communications.
I looked into this individual in my first year on the scheme and looked at introducing a longer-term initiative to reduce their severe ASB. I began looking into a Civil Injunction and started collating evidence. This individual had generated an incredible amount of crime reports to the police, even in the past year alone. I spoke to neighbours and family members to obtain statements from them to evidence the ASB. I was determined to proceed with the injunction despite some of their initial reservations, because I knew the overall impact to the police and the community would be greatly beneficial. Although this individual put up resistance, I went to court and was successful in obtaining a Civil Injunction. I removed them from a large section of the LPA, including where they resided (as the court deemed the ASB to be that bad). The order prevented him from returning to a large portion of High Wycombe and from contacting in any way 11 named people.
The number of crime reports this individual generated dramatically reduced and the community felt confident in reporting them to the police if they breached their injunction. The individual did breach the injunction a couple of times but the injunction allowed police to effectively deal with them. When they did breach, the individual was given custodial sentences by the court.
What has been the moment that you have been most proud of professionally in the last 22 months?
The moment I have been most proud of was definitely receiving a commendation from my LPA Commander for introducing the first Civil Injunction and the first Sexual Risk Order on my LPA. I don’t do my job to receive awards, I do it as I enjoy doing the right thing which ultimately leads to achieving positive results for communities, victims and my team, but it was incredibly encouraging to be recognised for my efforts. The comments my Inspector and LPA Commander made about my work and tenacity truly inspired me and brought a very positive end to my time on the Police Now programme.
Have you implemented any new initiatives that have contributed to building confidence in policing within your community or influenced cultural change within force?
I am the ASB SPOC (single point of contact) on my LPA. To further work with my colleagues in making arrests for injunction breaches, I am introducing Civil Injunction SPOCs onto each response team on my LPA, and I will lead the training for this. I created guides on how to deal with Civil Injunction breaches which I shared across my LPA and shared to custody suites across TVP. The new ASB SPOCs can also share these with their team and become the go-to person in their team for Civil Injunctions, rather than only having one ASB SPOC (me), as of course I am not always around when I’m on my rest days.
Using data taken from Police Recorded Crime Statistics, the independently peer-reviewed figures compare the 22-month period from October 2016 to July 2018 before any Police Now officers had joined their local communities to the period when they joined from October 2018 to July 2020.
The data presented here is subject to limitations with Police Recorded Crime Statistics and methodology. More details on this are available at the bottom of the following Police Now webpage.