Neighbourhood Policing Week: Police Now in the West Midlands
Friday 27 January 2023
To mark Neighbourhood Policing Week of Action – which celebrates community policing and the achievements of neighbourhood officers across the UK – we spoke to Police Constable Mohammad Shahzad, who joined West Midlands Police in 2020 via Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme.
Mohammad was picked out of thousands of applicants to join the two-year programme which recruits, trains, and develops outstanding graduates to become leaders in society and on the policing frontline.
He tells us why he decided to leave his job in banking for a role on the policing frontline, his experience as a Police Now officer, and his neighbourhood policing work with faith communities in Smethwick.
Why did you decide to train as a police constable on Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme?
“I hadn’t considered a career in policing before coming across Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme. After studying a master’s in law at Wolverhampton University, I settled into a job working as a mortgage consultant for a bank, where I worked for three years. However, I wasn’t really enjoying a 9-5 role and wanted something that would allow me to be out in the community every day, directly supporting people in need. I had heard from a friend who was working as a police officer about the impact you can have in the role and so I decided to apply to Police Now’s programme and see for myself.
“The programme was a really positive step for me, one which I knew would push me out of my comfort zone and develop me both as a leader and as a person. It was a big decision to make but I haven’t looked back since.”
How have you been actively engaging with your community?
“As a member of the West Midlands Faith Strategic Partnership Group – a committee which aims to develop strategies for tackling local issues from a faith perspective – I attended the annual Faith in Action Summit in Walsall this November. The event, attended by faith and civic leaders from across the region and hosted by Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, was a fantastic opportunity for me to hear from the local community. Throughout the day, we heard from different panellists and speakers and took part in workshops, with the aim of learning from others in the community and encouraging future collaboration. As one of the only police officers at the event, I received lots of questions from fellow attendees and was able to explain more about my role as a neighbourhood officer. By listening to members of the community and hearing about the challenges most affecting them, I was able to head back to the beat with greater focus and perspective.
“In my neighbourhood policing role, I have worked closely with a local mosque, frequently visiting and hearing from the Imams and worshippers. I had grown up visiting the mosque but in over 25 years had never once seen a police officer visit, so it was great to be able to put a change to that and show my face to the next generation. Through these visits, I was able to help show the community that we’re here to help, and I had members of the neighbourhood approach me afterwards to share their concerns, ask questions and disclose useful intel – including new information about drug dealing in certain areas.”
What has been one of your highlights of the programme?
“One of my biggest highlights from Police Now’s programme was the secondment I undertook in 2021 with His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). I worked in a department involved with assessing the progress of Devon and Cornwall and Warwickshire Police forces and it was eye-opening to see how decisions are made at the highest level. I was able to gain insight into areas of policing I had never considered before and sit in on strategic meetings with senior decision-makers. The secondment opportunities are competitive, but I really couldn’t recommend the experience more – and frequently do to Police Now officers joining the force!”
Do you have any other advice for someone joining or applying to Police Now’s programme?
“My advice would be, go for it and take every opportunity available to you. There’s lots of freedom on the programme to explore different areas of policing and it provides a real chance to make a difference in your community – so make the most of it! Police Now also have a team of trained Performance and Development Coaches who are there to support you throughout the programme, so I’d encourage you to keep in touch with them as much as you can as they’re vital for shaping you into the best leader and officer you can be. I had a brilliant time on the programme and would absolutely recommend it to anyone considering applying.”
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.