Neighbourhood Policing Week of Action
Friday 21 January 2022
This week is Neighbourhood Policing Week of Action, a week which celebrates community policing and the achievements of neighbourhood officers across the UK.
To mark the week, we spoke to Police Constable Amy Hunter, an officer currently on Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme in Hertfordshire Constabulary.
She shares details about her work with a local mental health hospital and her experiences of being a neighbourhood police officer, saying: “At the end of the day, you are constantly striving to make a difference to people’s lives and serve your community. I can’t think of a many more careers that are as meaningful as that.”
The National Graduate Leadership Programme gives graduates and career-changers a structured route into policing, supporting participants over the two-year programme to make a positive impact in their communities.
Applications for the programme are now open.
Police Constable Amy Hunter
Why did you decide to become a neighbourhood police officer?
“I studied a degree in Criminology at Sheffield university, so I did have some pre-existing interest in law enforcement, but I had never really considered a career in frontline policing until I came across the Police Now programme.
“It appealed because its mission aligned with my personal values, the main one being to help make a positive difference in people’s lives.
“I was actually working in a fish and chip shop in Manchester when I received the offer from Police Now to join Hertfordshire Constabulary. I decided to relocate and throw myself into a completely new career, and I’m so glad that I took the leap.”
What work have you been doing as a neighbourhood police officer since joining the force?
“I joined Hertfordshire Constabulary, via the National Graduate Leadership Programme, in the summer of 2020 and have been working as a neighbourhood officer in the Northern Policing Safer Neighbourhood Team. I have been invovled in a variety of work since joining the force, for example I have dealt with processing suspects through custody, interview and bail, attending neighbour disputes, working on high-visibility patrols and stop and searches, supporting victims of crime, and building case files following shoplifting incidents.
“I have also been working closely with a local mental health facility, to address a number of issues and build a stronger relationship between the hospital and the force.
“We were receiving a high volume of fake calls to the force control room from patients at the hospital – at one point it was over 50 calls in one month – and this was putting a strain on police resource, as we do need to investigate all calls that we receive until we’re certain there’s no risk involved.
“I set up meetings with managers and staff at the hospital to identify the patients who were making fake calls and together we were able to provide them with extra support – and subsequently we saw a drop in fake calls.
“There were also a couple of incidents where staff members were assaulted and this clearly needed addressing. I worked with the hospital to ensure that all staff were aware of the processes we’d put in place if they did need police support, as ensuring staff safety is critical. I set up a number of drop-in sessions to answer any questions they might have about the police and our reporting processes, and I created a number of useful resources to help streamline reporting.
“It’s certainly a challenging and interesting area, as patients’ mental health has to be taken into account during any investigation, so I’ve worked closely with partner agencies. Ultimately we must enforce the law but also offer support to vulnerable members of the public who need it, and this is where the hospital and the police can work together to protect both victims and offenders.
“This is still an ongoing piece of work but I have been able to build stronger relationships between the force and the facility’s rehabilitation and recovery services. I have since been invited to sit in on a number of meetings at the hospital to directly gather information for police reports and I have been involved in safeguarding and supporting individuals at the hospital. I have received positive feedback from staff members about the work we’ve put in motion.”
What do you like most about neighbourhood policing?
“Being a neighbourhood police officer is incredibly varied, when you are embedded in a community you get to work on these long-term issues and really try to tackle their root causes. One day you might be assessing how to build relationships with the local mental health hospital and the next day you might be responding to a neighbour dispute or working to reduce shoplifting on your beat.
“At the end of the day, you are constantly striving to make a difference to people’s lives and serve your community. I can’t think of a many more careers that are as meaningful as that.”
Applications for the National Graduate Leadership Programme are now open, apply here.