Monday 7 June 2021
Ella Davenport spent six weeks at Crest as part of Police Now's two-year graduate scheme. Having recently completed her attachment with us, she considers what police officers can gain from experience away from their day-to-day job
Towards the end of the two-year Police Now scheme, officers hang up their uniform for a month and go on attachment to an organisation outside the police service.
I opted to go to Crest Advisory because of their work tackling some of the most pressing problems facing the criminal justice system - and their belief in basing policy on evidence. Trying to uncover the root causes of particular crime types was one of the main reasons I was drawn to Police Now in the first place, so to see how this kind of work plays out in a separate part of the sector seemed like an invaluable opportunity.
The prospect of doing something new was exciting - but at the same time daunting. It was so different from my normal routine, having spent more time with colleagues than family over the past year, while the wealth of knowledge and experience at Crest seemed so impressive, with their use of acronyms on a par with the police! However, I had nothing to worry about and was immediately welcomed with open arms and left in no doubt that I could turn to anyone with questions if needed.
During my short time with the Crest team, I have been able to dip my toes into a number of projects. I began by carrying out research on violence reduction units in England and Wales, before analysing interviews that Crest conducted with a number of police and crime commissioners. It’s helped me understand topics that I had little knowledge of before, but which will be incredibly useful for my work in the police. Throughout my time in the Met it has been easy to focus on events in London, but this work has made me more aware of policing in a broader context. That in itself is key to understanding how and why decisions are made at a much higher level.
This opportunity to gain an alternative perspective is why I believe external attachments are so important. If the police service is to keep evolving, officers should be able to experience life outside it - and not just because it provides a break from shift work. Having spent most of the previous year enforcing various lockdown measures against a backdrop of hugely important global movements, I was often left grappling with an internal dialogue that at times made me question my choice of career. However, during my time at Crest I was also able to assist the Police Foundation, an independent think-tank, in looking at research about policing during the pandemic on a wider scale. And that work has given me the time and space to reflect on my own experiences and bring some clarity to the issues I’ve been thinking about. Although I am sad to have finished my time with Crest, I’m returning to my role as a neighbourhood police officer comforted by the fact that the company continues to look into some of the most challenging questions our society faces around crime and justice.