The description of the traditional neighbourhood bobby is not so far from the truth as you might think. Yes, crime has significantly changed since Dixon of Dock Green was on the beat but the value of interacting with the community still remains at the heart of local policing.
Intervention and Prevention is one of the key measures undertaken to stop people from offending. In a lot of cases we work with partner agencies to signpost and advise individuals who require additional support the local Neighbourhood Team are unable to offer. The Police are often the first contact to vulnerable people at risk to becoming crime victims or sadly even potential offenders.
You will be surprised how a simple greeting of “hello” or a smile can break the ice of people who maybe weary of officers wearing uniform. On foot patrol we ensure that we make ourselves approachable to members of the public and listen to their concerns and address them accordingly. Sometimes it may require a different approach particularly with young people and individuals lacking the confidence to talk to the Police. One example of which is playing football in the park with a group of lads who had committed Anti-Social Behaviour in a local park. After playing 20 minutes in full uniform to which I was drenched in sweat they began to open up and air their feelings. After a productive conversation they agreed that would be mindful of their behaviour in future. They also saw that the Park was a shared space for everyone to enjoy and they did not want to prevent families, elderly people and other groups of children from using the area. It also made the lads feels as if they were consulted and had a viable stake in their own community. This highlights that at times using a softer approach can deliver an effective long term crime prevention outcome. Thinking on your feet and using your initiative whilst meeting professional Policing standards is something that we have to do a daily basis.
The job can be difficult and we constantly have to navigate the many shades of grey that make up society. We have to mediate between the expectations set by the public and what we can realistically achieve. This can be extremely challenging but also very rewarding if we get a result that benefits the local community. Plus a good tea stop (drinks break) is always well received by our team!