Police Now academy: Jonny Smale, Surrey Police
National Graduate Leadership Programme 2022
Jonny Smale launched his career as a neighbourhood police officer on Monday 12th September, as one of 148 new officers attested at Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme academy.
At age 40, Jonny decided to leave his music career behind and finally pursue his dream to become a police officer. Trading the beat of the music for a local policing beat instead, he is sharing his experience of Police Now’s academy as he develops the core knowledge and skills required of a modern police constable.
Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme begins with a seven-week residential training academy, before participants are deployed into their respective police forces across the country for the remainder of the two-year programme.
They will work as neighbourhood police officers and, alongside experienced colleagues, work to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, tackle complex issues within their communities, and improve public confidence in the police service. Participants also work towards their Graduate Diploma in Professional Policing Practice, in partnership with Liverpool John Moore’s University.
“Last week, I was attested at Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme academy and officially began my initial training alongside other new police constables. I am one week into the academy, with six more weeks to go before I permanently join Surrey Police.
“I had thought briefly about joining the police before, because it struck me as a career that would be more than just a ‘job’ and would have real purpose and impact behind it. However, I had worked so hard on my music that I wasn’t ready to walk away from that yet and decided to pursue a career in music. I did spend some time learning the violin when I was at school, but I swiftly switched to guitar when I discovered Guns N Roses and have been playing it ever since.
“After graduating from Mattersey Hall in 2010 with a degree in Biblical Studies and Applied Theology, I worked for several different music tuition companies as a guitar teacher and played in function bands at various gigs.
“For the last 10 years, I’ve been playing lead guitar in ‘Iron Tyger’ – an 80’s rock tribute band. We’re a four piece and play a mix of the timeless classics, power ballads and stadium anthems. We have a long and varied set list, I think Van Halen is probably my favourite to perform though (sorry, you’re probably hoping I’d pick The Police!). We have also released 5 of our own albums, after scoring a small record deal in 2017.
“I’m really happy with what I managed to do with my music career – it’s been great fun and I’ve achieved what I set out to do. I feel I can finally leave it behind now without having any regrets and start a new adventure.
“When I told my family that, at age 40, I was leaving my music career behind and joining the police they were all very surprised. My stepfather was a police sergeant though, so he was chuffed.
“The first week of academy has been very full-on, but I’ve really enjoyed myself. We have had a mix of classroom-based and practical activities, including learning how to make an arrest, taking statements, conducting vehicle and premise searches, using police radios and understanding procedural justice. What I most enjoyed was the role play. There is so much to learn from acting out an arrest or a stop and search. The feedback and criticism was helpful and I know where to focus my efforts going forward.
“What appeals to me about policing, and Police Now in particular, is that it has a real mission and purpose behind it. You have the opportunity to make positive change and serve your community, which is something I’ve always wanted to do. Even if those changes are small, I’d know that I’d played a part in supporting someone in need or making my community that little bit safer. I’m glad that I am now taking the steps to make these ambitions a reality and to soon be joining Surrey Police. I’ve been the ‘guitar guy’ for so long, I’m ready to become the ‘police guy’ now!”
“I have just spent two weeks at Surrey Police HQ undertaking my Officer Safety Training (OST) and Emergency Life Support (ELS) training, as part of Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme academy.
“I learnt a lot by being in force, not just from OST and ELS but also about the policing family and culture. It’s a strange analogy, but it’s not dissimilar to when I was at Mattersey Hall doing my Bible Studies degree; there’s an expectation to work hard, hold yourself to high standards and always hold yourself accountable.
“ELS was a challenging but great experience. We learnt how to provide on-the-scene emergency life support, such as tending to wounds, administering CPR and putting casualties into the recover position. These are skills I hope I never have to use but that may help me save someone’s life someday, so I worked hard to apply myself and develop my knowledge in this area. It reinforced just how much impact a police officer can have on someone’s life.
“Officer Safety Training was also hard work but good fun. We learnt key self-defence moves and handcuffing techniques, and also worked on our communication and leadership skills in order to safely manage and de-escalate potentially dangerous situations.
“The academy has been very demanding so far and there is a lot to take in, but I feel fortunate to be part of such a great team that has managed to bond in just a short period of time. I am very grateful to the other Police Now colleagues who are joining Surrey Police via the programme, their support goes a long way to ensuring my own welfare and there is a lot of encouragement and enthusiasm amongst us all.
“We are now revising hard for an upcoming assessment, before we will be back in our forces for our first ever ‘field training’ shifts – where we will work alongside experienced force colleagues on the Response team and be on the frontline for the first time.”
“I can’t quite believe that it’s been six weeks already since we began our Police Now academy training. There has been a lot of information to take in and it’s certainly been challenging but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time so far.
“We recently spent time in our respective police forces across the country completing ‘field training’ shifts. I spent my time in Surrey Police, where I will be based once I complete Police Now’s academy.
“I learnt a lot from the instructors at Surrey Police HQ and Guildford Police Station and I enjoyed meeting some of my colleagues within force. It was interesting to hear the insight and anecdotes from those who have already been doing the job. It all adds to the picture of who I want to be and why I decided to make this career change in the first place.
“I spent my field training shift in the Criminal Investigation Department and whilst there, I made my first ever arrest as a police constable in relation to a domestic violence incident. It was a safe environment to make my first arrest in, as the person I was arresting was actually already in the custody suite, having been arrested earlier on suspicion of criminal damage. The investigating team had received information which gave us grounds to further arrest the individual on suspicion of non-fatal strangulation, which is a very new offence that only came into force earlier this year as part of the government’s landmark Domestic Abuse Act, and I was tasked with making this further arrest.
“It was quite an adrenaline rush to go from the practice scenarios to the real thing. This was my first experience in a custody suite as well as my first experience making an arrest; it was great to apply my academy training and see it all play out in real time. I also took my first ever witness statement in relation to the arrest and enjoyed seeing my name on the statement form for the first time as part of a live police occurrence.
“I also attended a suspect interview, though the suspect was not willing to give us any information. I focused on furthering my understanding of the interview process and watching the solicitor, interviewer and the suspect throughout. It was just as interesting to see the build-up to the interview as the interview itself, including being a part of the conversations between the solicitor and my policing colleague and forming the interview questions in advance.
“I think my final week at academy and the rest of my time on Police Now’s programme over the next two years is going to be equal parts challenging and rewarding, but the field training has given me just a small taste of what’s to come and I really can’t wait to be joining the team at Surrey Police and working to serve and protect the public.”
“The final two weeks of Police Now’s academy have been incredibly busy but also rewarding. I completed another field training shift, this time within Surrey Police’s Response unit. The whole team were encouraging and took the time to offer me advice and guidance. I feel fortunate to have been working with such a team.
“I assisted in a case of revenge porn, taking the time to build a rapport with the victim and assist my colleague in conducting an interview. I also attended my first road traffic collision after a young man was knocked from his motorbike. Luckily, he walked away with minor injuries. The whole experience made it clear to me that this is what I want to do – to support people who need me the most and prevent harm – and I am determined to succeed.
“On the final day of academy, we had a ‘Policing for Change’ panel and heard from senior police officers and Police Now’s academic partner Liverpool John Moore’s University, who we will work with to achieve our Graduate Diploma in Professional Policing Practice.
“It is bittersweet knowing that everyone at the academy will now be going our separate ways as we land in police forces across the country, but I know that I have a strong network to rely upon and other like-minded officers joining Surrey Police alongside me.
“I am continuing to learn and develop, but I am aiming high, and I plan to use grit and determination to support members of the public and make a difference in society as a neighbourhood police officer. It will be challenging, but I will work hard over the next two years and beyond to make a positive impact. Bring it on!”