Getting behind the scenes with Warwickshire Police

Warwickshire Police wants to get the public more connected with policing through a pioneering ten-week Citizens' Academy course. The Courier and Weekly News found out what it all means for volunteers and the force.

Monday, 27th June 2016, 8:51 am
Updated Monday, 27th June 2016, 9:58 am
Citizen's Academy course

A team of 30 Warwickshire people have gone behind the scenes of all things policing in the first course of its kind.

Warwickshire Police is now running its Citizens’ Academy course to give a view of what the force does each day in a new insight into modern-day policing.

Launching the innovative scheme in hope of getting more members of the public involved with policing and its work, the force has now taken on the latest 30 recruits for a 10-week course.

It is hoped they will pass on their experiences, or become special constables or force volunteers.

Led by senior officers, the idea is to spread word of how policing is managed, and the need for community involvement and understanding.

Sessions cover the work of dog-handlers, intelligence gathering on terrorism, drink-driving, firearms officers, stop-and-search, drug and alcohol enforcement and anti-social behaviour.

Chief Inspector Faz Chishty said with signs of success, there are no plans to stop.

“We are delighted at the academy’s success,” he said. “It’s really helping people see the police in a different light.

“The academy is here to stay. In fact, we’re planning for another course to be held early next year.

“Several course members are even applying to join the force and Julie Brown, a medical secretary who was once shy and lacking in confidence, is on her way to becoming a special constable.”

The sessions have backing from Chief Constable Martin Jelley and newly-appointed Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Seccombe.

And after a successful start with classes across Warwickshire, other forces are keen to follow suit and open their own doors to the public.

Run every Wednesday evening at the Justice Centre in Leamington, the classes will provide in-depth knowledge of police work using talks and hands-on demonstrations.

Teams can also see around the Leek Wootton control centre, custody suite and cells.

The experience is already having a big impact, as volunteers reflect on their time.

Warwick resident Vivien McFarlane said she signed up to find out more about the force’s stop-and-search policy and attitudes to policing the black community.

And already feels “encouraged and enlightened” by what she has learnt.

Karen Ellis, a farmer from Harbury, said she wanted to know more about rural policing issues, such as farm thefts and attitudes to the hunting ban and Gypsy sites.

And that after learning that almost all tip-offs to officers come from members of the public rather than inside information, she hopes to spread the word.

“It’s a fabulous course, extremely open and informal,” she said. “The whole thing has given us all a great understanding of why the police do what they do - and how much they need the public’s help.”

Maria Fennell, CEO of the support group Springfield MIND, wanted greater insight into how the police deal with mental illness after arrests.

She said: “I’ve been in police custody suites when helping our clients.

“So I was keen to see behind the scenes and become better informed, as well as having some influence over police attitudes to people with mental health problems.”

Want to take part in the next course? Email interest to [email protected]