By Stephanie Waddell, Dissemination Lead for High Risk Children and Young People, EIF
We’re delighted to be working in partnership with West Yorkshire Police this year to develop a really effective, focused and ‘testable’ strategy to transform the way they work and the way each individual officer sees his or her role in early intervention. We think that West Yorkshire’s senior team have the vision and commitment to propel the Force to the forefront of thinking about early intervention and its potential to reduce demand on policing, and we’re excited to help them do this.
Our Early Intervention Academy for Police Leaders immersed us in the nuts and bolts of what exactly early intervention means for policing and the challenges of moving to a radically new way of working. It also convinced us that the police are crucial to our efforts to put early intervention at the heart of work with children and families and to prove that it works. We’ll be delivering a West Yorkshire version of the Academy – selecting the very best future police leaders from across the force and exposing them to the latest thinking from the voluntary sector, local authorities and academia. This small group of influential officers will take on the challenge of sharing the ideas and insights they’ve gained from the Academy experience with their colleagues. We hope and expect that they will become real champions within the force.
The Academy will be part of the focus on workforce transformation within West Yorkshire Police. We’ll also be exploring exactly what skills and personal qualities officers need to respond to demands that are increasingly related to vulnerability of various kinds, and the best way to reflect this in recruitment practices and a modern training and development offer.
Of course we’ll also have a firm focus on the need to deliver all this in partnership – with the five local authorities in the force area, with the voluntary and community sector, with the NHS, and with communities themselves. We’ll be facilitating a workshop early on with the essential partners, and we want to pin down exactly what partners need and expect from the police to support their own early intervention efforts. To use a hackneyed phrase, this isn’t about the police doing it all. It’s not about “police becoming social workers” or treading on toes. It is about defining precisely how and where the police can have an impact in their day to day work and their relationships with partner agencies, and about showing the difference this can make in concrete terms.
We’re ambitious for this work. We’re ambitious because it gives us an opportunity to move beyond the consensus it feels like we now have amongst chief constables and top teams that early intervention is a good thing for the police, and an important response to ‘vulnerability’ related demand. It enables us to move towards the next phase – defining exactly what the police role in early intervention looks like, and, crucially, testing the impact of a new way of working on the level of demand for policing and late stage partnership interventions.