Shaping our work in neighbourhood policing

Doug Ashman, the College’s Neighbourhood Policing Adviser, talks about his role in developing the neighbourhood policing guidelines and what it was like to work with forces to discover great examples of practice that support officers in implementing the guidelines.

​I joined the College last year on a two-year secondment in the newly created post of Neighbourhood Policing Adviser.

When I saw this role advertised it looked like the perfect job for me as I am passionate about the benefits that neighbourhood policing can deliver. Prior to my secondment I was the strategic Neighbourhood Policing Inspector for Hampshire Constabulary and I'm undertaking a PhD looking at the effectiveness of community engagement.

My role is all about supporting forces in how they can best deliver neighbourhood policing. The timing of my start was perfect, getting stuck straight into the development of the new neighbourhood policing guidelines and working with forces across the country to identify promising practice to support implementation.

To give some background, in 2016 as part of the PEEL inspection process, HMICFRS voiced concerns of a national erosion of neighbourhood policing. As a result they set an action for the College with the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) and Association of Police and Crime Commissioners to produce up-to-date guidelines for forces on how they deliver effective neighbourhood policing.

This is one of the first times that a method of developing evidence-based guidelines built around the NICE model (used in health), was undertaken in policing. Academic and in-practice evidence was provided to a committee made up of subject matter experts from the frontline and senior levels, academics and key strategic partners. The committee, with the College development team, then created the seven guidelines with supporting material, which were formally published in September.

I was responsible for developing a number of case studies that showcase promising practice among forces. This was a huge undertaking, going through over 250 submissions from forces and other partners to select a number of practical approaches to include. Over the last year I have travelled the length and breadth of the country to see how various initiatives worked in practice. This is the best part of my job though, I get to work with colleagues from the frontline through to chief officers and get to see just how varied and beautiful the UK truly is.

To bring the case studies to life, I worked closely with colleagues in digital services and marketing and communications, using their expertise to develop a number of these into short films. Using video has made the guidelines much more engaging than the traditional APP format. I am really impressed with the creativity of my colleagues and how they took the view from the frontline throughout the process.  It's been great seeing how to shape this to best meet the project team's loosely described vision of having 'something a bit whizzy'!

The work hasn't stopped. Now that the guidelines have been published, I am looking for further case studies to help forces with the contemporary challenges in neighbourhood policing; particularly in how neighbourhood teams help tackle serious and organised crime, counter terrorism, identify and manage vulnerability, undertake early intervention work and make the best use of social media and do online engagement activity. In fact the seventh guideline was all about a need to build an evidence base in these areas.

I work closely with the NPCC neighbourhood policing lead DCC Gavin Stephens and his team who currently have a group of 31 forces who are early adopters of the guidelines. They have undertaken a readiness assessment of where they currently are against the guidelines, helping to shape the picture nationally. This will help me to identify how we can best add to sharing forces' experiences and what they have learned.

The last year has flown by and I have no doubt the year ahead will too. I am loving being a part of the College and proud of what we do.

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