I couldn’t be more thrilled to have been given the chance to undertake a secondment to the College of Policing to coordinate their work on mental health. I’m still a West Midlands Police officer, but they’ve loaned me out to help with work that the College needs to do nationally. This is a total change for me, moving from a very frontline, operational police roll overseeing a 999 response team and back to an intense spell of being a Monday to Friday, office boy doing things around policy and procedure, training and guidelines.
I’ve worked on mental health issues twice before, so this being my third posting to this developing and important area of policing and my being hot off the back of such an intense operational posting, I’m keen to help make a difference to how my old team and others like them, can do the best possible for our public. The post at the College now exists at all because of the increased focus that this issue has achieved, in which we see individual forces investing more time and effort as well as the Home Secretary giving this prominence and attention. We are where we are on this stuff, vulnerable people are not being given the best and that means there is LOADS to do!
I started last Monday and in amidst all the boring stuff about finding out where you’re going and how some stuff works in a new organisation, I was straight into the deep end on day two, in London – some months ago I chose to put forward a written submission to the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into policing and mental health. A few weeks ago they asked if I would go to London and give oral evidence to the Committee. What an absolutely terrifying honour that was!
WILL I STILL BE BLOGGING?
Many people have asked whether I’ll still be blogging and tweeting?! Yes – without a doubt. It was something that was discussed in the first meeting I had with my new boss and the College recognises the impact that social media can have and I’ve been encouraged to continue. I will be thinking about how to approach it slightly differently – and for the record no-one has asked me to approach anything ANY differently. For the last three years I’ve been blogging in my own time, outside of work and in order to try and chip in and drive and agenda that, frankly, I wasn’t formally involved in. I’m now formally involved in it again as I was before I started using social media, so I may be doing more ‘newsletter’ type updates.
I’ve got to be honest about this job coming about at exactly the right time – because I’ve been running out of things to write about!! I’ve been posting less for the last three months and blog hits have fallen off a bit. I’m still on course to reach 1,000,000 hits by end of next year, but it’s fair to say that the approach probably doesn’t need to change if this is no longer me chipping with ideas or advice that I have to accept people can take or leave as they see fit.
In many ways, this merely reflects reality, doesn’t it?! – there is only so much talking we can actually do! Eventually, we’re going to have to decide what, if anything, we’re actually going to do and then commit to it 100% and crack on with it. A few retired officers who heard my HASC contribution this week contacted me afterwards to say they’d been working on s136 or other issues when they were serving over thirty years ago. We can’t let this happen again.
We CANNOT go on, as we are. And yet as I type this, there are at least three mental health providers in the process of shutting s136 Place of Safety services or have already done so. We need to grab this situation by the scruff of the neck and look at ourselves because there is no reason why the United Kingdom needs to be in the position it’s in – we’re a quite capable with what many people would argue are the best health and policing systems in the world of sorting this out. Right here, right now.
I wrote a few thoughts in a previous BLOG about what I thought the College needed to do for the service. This is now the broadest of outlines about how I’ll be spending my time over the next few months to understand how we can turn that into reality and how the College of Policing can help drive the police service as a whole to a better place.
I’ve asked already on Twitter for anyone, no matter what you’re background angle, to give any thoughts and ideas about what this will be in detail. If you want to, you should feel free to leave a comment on this BLOG post or email me, using the link on the toolbar, above.
– won the Digital Media Award from the UK’s leading mental health charity, Mind
– won a World of Mentalists #TWIMAward for the best in mental health blogs
– was highlighted by the Independent Commission on Policing & Mental Health
– was highlighted in the UK Parliamentary debate on Policing & Mental Health