It was early in 2015 when I was first approached and told that a new recruit was being posted to my neighbourhood.
I was told they were on a new graduate scheme, and I didn’t know what to expect. I heard whispers about an elite group of people who had been hand selected to work as Dedicated Ward Officers in some of the toughest neighbourhoods across London. However, this was the extent of my knowledge of ‘Police Now’.
Our neighbourhood, Plaistow South, is in the borough of Newham and has a truly diverse ethnic make-up, with a plethora of different races, religions and social groups. It is an area of high crime, with challenges from Newham General Hospital, and Newham Centre for Mental Health as well as the second largest sixth form college in the country. All of these factors considered together make for a really testing environment to work in. Having overseen the neighbourhood for the last four years, I was very aware of how difficult the role would be for a new police officer.
In September 2015, I was delighted to meet Alice, who had a bright cheerful disposition, and was keen to get straight to work on many problems in the neighbourhood that the team had struggled with previously. Initially I posted Alice with an experienced officer, Jim Smith, for her first 28 day immersion to break her in gently. Alice was eager to complete tasks and started to engage with members of the community that we had previously found extremely hard to reach. She worked closely with a women’s refuge charity which worked with women who had been brought into the UK from Africa and sexually exploited. Alice managed to gain the trust of the women here despite them initially having little confidence in the police due to lack of interventions and cultural misconceptions. Alice used this as her first 100 day project and gave an extremely professional presentation about this during her assessment day.
Alice works well within the team to ensure that everyone around her is included in dealing with issues that arise. She has invigorated other team members with her eagerness to learn and problem solve. Although at first I may have been sceptical about taking on a Police Now recruit, I am now totally sold on the scheme and the quality of officers it produces.