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Reflections on four years in police comms

by Mike Fox, former Deputy Head of Communications at Warwickshire Police.

I should have been prepared really – my brother and sister-in-law are serving officers, after all.

But I don’t think anything can actually prepare you for not just being ‘behind the scenes’ of policing, but being an integral part of the service provided to our communities. The volume, breadth and complexity of the issues policing deals with on a daily basis – and the role that communications plays in all of it – is something that has to be experienced to be understood.

And while it can be daunting, the support from those around you (and developing a fairly robust sense of humour) gets you through, and the rewards of being part of it are considerable.

I started as Deputy Head of Corporate Communications for the alliance of two police forces back in June of 2017 – my first job in policing.

I am now preparing to leave to take up an opportunity elsewhere (not in policing) – knowing that nothing will provide quite the same challenges and rewards of the past four years.

My first impressions on starting the job were:

  • How are we expected to do all of that, with just these resources?
  • I thought the IT would be cutting edge like CSI – it was more like Last of the Summer Wine
  • How is everyone so calm and professional, while dealing with the stuff they are dealing with?

It can feel over-whelming at times – demand comes at you from all angles and most of it can’t simply be put to one side or delayed until it’s more convenient. Pesky criminals and major incidents…….

These would be my top tips, based on the past four year’s experience:

  • Prioritise – properly understand the different demands and make sure resources are being used where most needed
  • Make decisions – assess all the information, make your decision, be clear in your reasoning, and stick to your guns.
  • Trust your gut – if you have a feeling something isn’t right and / or you need to act on something, you are most likely right.
  • Keep talking – while we have all got used to working remotely, I think this is very risky in comms. We need to engage with colleagues across the force to be on top of everything – and more importantly, we need to look out for those in the team who may be struggling quietly away from the Teams meetings.

The constant throughout this experience has been the quality of the people I have been privileged to work with, across all roles in the forces. At what has been a difficult time for the reputation of policing, I wish more people could see the reality of what really happens ‘behind the scenes’ and the dedication and professionalism that goes into keeping them safe.

I feel extremely lucky to have done the job I’ve done, alongside the people I’ve worked with. I’m just a little worried that after explosions, stabbings, manhunts, pandemics and protests, everything else is going to feel a little………..tame.

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Mike Fox

Mike Fox is former Deputy Head of Communications at Warwickshire Police