Student police officer breaks down barriers between the force and the local community by working on the Team programme.
As part of a mandatory phase of the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme student police officers need to complete a community engagement placement alongside a partner agency. The placements are designed to give officers an understanding of the diverse communities within their police area with the additional outcomes of there being greater communication and improved trust between the police and the community.
PC Paul Edwards of Lancashire Constabulary was recently placed with The Prince's Trust Team programme delivered by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service in Preston. Paul arrived at the start of the community project in week four. The team had chosen to renovate the garden of a nursing home in Preston for the elderly residents to use and enjoy.
Paul said: "Being a police officer I was initially quite apprehensive attending my placement, believing there would be a barrier between me and the young people on the programme. I was told before attending to either wear my police uniform or to wear some old clothes if I wanted to work with the team."
Paul decided to wear some old clothes, concerned that his uniform would provide a physical barrier that he didn’t want.
Paul continued: "My identity as a Police Officer was exposed first thing! The young people were initially apprehensive about me for various reasons. However as the day progressed I got to know the team better and spending time with the young people helped alleviate any tensions. I also helped remove some accumulated rubble from the day’s activities which was very hard work and certainly help me bond with the group".
By the end of the day the young people had all relaxed and Paul’s hard work had helped him become an integral part of the team. Over the next two days he assisted the team in working to a tight deadline. At the end of his period with the team Paul reflected on the experience that he had not initially been looking forward: once he got to know the young people he really enjoyed working The Prince's Trust.
Paul said: "As police officer there are times to when it is hard break barriers down. In the short amount of time I was working with the Team, I got to know them quite well. My apprehensiveness had all but disappeared.
Police Sergeant Kay McGovern, of the Leadership and Professional Development of Lancashire Constabulary commented:
"The constabulary aims to place student officers in an organisation with members of the community that they are unlikely to have had much contact with previously. To work alongside the Fire & Rescue Service and The Prince’s Trust is an added bonus. It is important that we focus on what matters to the public of Lancashire in order to best serve their interests. Understanding the expectations, changing needs and concerns of different communities will ultimately assist us to provide the service they need and deserve."