Policing is in a state of flux, but I would not want to be doing anything else

14 August 2015

I am a uniform Inspector from Gwent Police; a geographically small but busy and densely populated police force based in South East Wales, bordering South Wales Police, Gloucester, Dyfed Powys and Avon & Somerset. As well as having our fair share of serious crime, we were also responsible for the recent NATO summit; no small feat. I am personally responsible for Neighbourhood Policing and Neighbourhood Patrol (previously Response) for Caerphilly Central and also work as a Federation Representative for the force.

Reform visited the force in July to see what we do on a day-to-day basis and came out on patrol with us. This was really useful for both them and us in many ways, not least to get to discuss face-to-face the intricacies of day-to-day policing.

Amidst the headlines of reducing police budgets, misconduct (right up to chief constable level), increasing demand from different crime types, new technologies, increasing scrutiny and accountability, demands for transparency and perhaps most importantly the need to understand how to continue to connect with communities and maintain public confidence, the police service as we know it is in a state of flux.

On a daily basis, I remind myself of the quote “It doesn’t matter how many resources you have, if you don’t know how to use them, it will never be enough”. Almost on an hourly basis I need to work with my team in determining how to reduce the daily demand. Gwent Police has taken some bold steps of recent, with the amalgamation of several old-style basic command units (small geographical policing areas) into two new Local Policing Areas (LPAs), each headed by a superintendent and a four strong command team. This has seen a large number of resources redeployed to the frontline from more traditional, siloed and sometimes back-office teams. It has changed the way that we police and allowed us to bring teams together into a ‘super-team’ mentality, each assisting one another far more and delivering a more effective service.

At times, however, managing reduced resources is challenging. Today in my area, with a limited staff on which to draw, by 7am there were three prisoners waiting to be processed in custody, one high risk missing person and seventeen calls outstanding. On top of that is the additional demand that will arise during the day.

The picture is not all doom and gloom of course. The force has moved away from constantly counting figures – which negatively affected behaviour without delivering improved service. It is now focused on the future, on creating capacity and safeguarding those most vulnerable by managing risk rather than being adverse to it. The advent of mobile data is nigh and I truly believe that this will revolutionise the way that we do business. It will lead to a decreasing requirement for large buildings and officers being far less tied to a physical computer terminal, instead completing electronic records remotely – this really excites and enthuses me.

On a personal level, I do a job that I absolutely love, I feel that my salary is commensurate with my level of responsibility and, despite recent changes, I would not want to be doing anything else.

Inspector Carl Williams, Gwent Police 

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