Dealing with suspects in custody, responding to collisions, taking 999 calls and working with the Force’s four legged friends were all in a day’s work for Cheshire’s top cops on Friday.
More than 80 of the county’s senior officers and managers went back to the frontline – to spend a day walking in the shoes of their colleagues. It reinforced the fact that, no matter the rank, serving the public is Cheshire Constabulary’s top priority.
Everyone from the Chief Constable and the Commissioner to the Head of Legal Services went ‘Back to the Floor’ to experience first-hand the roles and pressures that officers and staff across the force face on a daily basis.
Every department was covered throughout a 24-hour period from neighbourhood policing and custody to the dog unit and force control centre.
This was the third ‘Back to the Floor’ event to take place in the Force and the first time that colleagues from partner agencies took part. Staff from Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West and Chester Council and those involved in the Criminal Justice process got involved on the day.
Cheshire’s Chief had an early start working at Blacon’s custody suite – dealing with suspects who had been arrested overnight and ensuring they were fed and watered before sitting down to be interviewed.
Chief Constable Simon Byrne said: "Custody is an area that is very much behind closed doors – due to the nature of the work that takes place there. I really enjoyed the experience - it was a privilege for me to be able to spend time with the officers and staff and see the valuable work they are carrying out everyday.
"I frequently spend time on patrol but it’s important that other senior officers and managers also have the opportunity to do the same. I was pleased to see and hear the buzz from other senior colleagues who really embraced the experience of going Back to the Floor’.
"You can’t lead a police force from behind your desk - policing is continually developing and we need to have a full understanding of the way the organisation works to allow us to move forward and be innovative. This is one way that we are trying to do that."
Cheshire’s Police & Crime Commissioner David Keane spent the afternoon in Chester with officers from the local policing unit.
He said: "Friday was a great opportunity to get out and about on the beat with officers in Chester city centre. I was able to spend time speaking to the public and our stakeholders in the city and get views on policing direct from the frontline. As Commissioner, it is crucial that I spend time with and listen to our frontline officers and staff so I can continue to understand the challenges that they face on a day-to-day basis. I would like to say a big thank you to the officers who spent time with me on Friday and all those who were involved in the organisation and running of the day."
Deputy Chief Constable Janette McCormick clocked on early and spent time on patrol with local response officers in Warrington whilst Assistant Chief Constable Sarah Boycott was out and about on the beat with Police Community Support Officers in Crewe.
Chief Superintendent Nick Bailey spent a day on the frontline in rural Knutsford dealing with everything from concerns over an intruder alarm activating to dealing with horses on the loose from a local field. Chief Inspector Simon Parsonage worked a late shift in Ellesmere Port where he was involved in the arrest of someone who was wanted on warrant for failing to appear at court.
Inspector Chris Adkins spent the night with the local policing unit in Widnes accompanying officers dealing with incidents of anti-social behaviour, domestic abuse and shoplifting. Inspector Becky Stokes spent her time in Runcorn – patrolling the Castlefields area with local PCSOs, meeting elderly residents and schoolchildren before ending the day with the dog unit carrying out checks at licensed premises in the town centre.
Inspector Neil Drum joined the Warrington Integrated Offender Management team for the day to get an insight into the diverse work they do to try and prevent the most prolific offenders from committing further crime. He also had the opportunity to meet a drug treatment worker to learn more about the service they provide to those struggling with drug addiction.
But it was not just Cheshire’s senior officers who went ‘back to the floor – so too did managers.
Malcolm Gerry, Project Manager at the Force’s headquarters in Winsford, spent the day on the beat with officers from Macclesfield Local Policing Unit. The shift resulted in an arrest for drug driving and vital work being carried out as part of the Force’s Christmas campaign – carrying out high-visibility patrols in key areas and offering advice and reassurance to the local community.
David McMahon, who works as a supervisor in the force control centre, went back to his roots and spent the afternoon responding to emergency calls –reinforcing the unseen but critical work that staff are carrying out everyday – often being the first port of call for someone at their greatest time of need.
David Bryan, Head of Legal Services, spent the day with the Widnes Beat Intelligence Team. They were kept busy investigating a serious assault, which had taken place earlier in the week and a series of car and key burglaries. The shift also included responding to a collision involving a lorry and a car and an emotional visit to an elderly victim of a distraction burglary – hitting home the impact that this type of crime has on each victim.
Partners played their part too on the day with staff from Cheshire East Council’s Highways Team joining colleagues in the Roads Policing Unit. Staff from Cheshire West and Chester Council were also involved in ‘Back to the Floor’
Fiona Hore, Senior Manager for Planning and Strategic Transport for Cheshire West and Chester Council, spent the day on patrol with a PCSO in rural Cheshire West.
Fiona said: "It was fascinating to learn just how important the role of a PCSO is to communities in the more rural parts of Cheshire. PCSOs engage with the community at all levels, from teaching personal safety to schoolchildren to working with parish councils on community safety initiatives. Spending the day on patrol also helped me to better understand the links between many council service areas and the day-to-day work of a PCSO. It was a really worthwhile exercise."
This is the third time the Force has hosted the event – and more are planned for the New Year.
Mr Byrne added: "After the first event last year I said this was not a gimmick or a flash in the pan and that we would run this initiative again to keep the momentum going. I’m pleased to see that each time it has grown bigger and more people have got involved. It’s also great that this time round we invited some of our partners to work alongside officers for the day helping to provide them with a better understanding of the delivery of front-line policing and the way their agency contributes to that."
Social media played a big part on the day with people following along @cheshirepolice and the hash tag #backtothefloor being used by officers and staff.
As Commissioner, it is crucial that I spend time with and listen to our frontline officers and staff so I can continue to understand the challenges that they face on a day-to-day basis.