No such thing as a typical day

February 14th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

One of our piloting officers, Stuart Johnstone, shares a typical day as a Community Officer with us…

“When I started to think about a typical day on the job, it occurred to me that there is no such thing. It also occurred to me that this fact is absolutely the best thing about the job.

Since joining the Police 8 years ago I quickly learned that one day often resembles nothing of the previous or following day, indeed the same can be said from one hour to the next.

One minute I’m attending a report of a serious road accident and the next I’m sitting down with a neighbourhood group discussing the community in general and addressing their concerns over a cup of tea. Rather than be frustrated at the topsy-turvy nature of the job, you can’t help but love it. A 10 hour shift on a Saturday night may sound like a long working day but it all too often flies by in the blink of an eye and I find myself working frantically to the last minute trying to get everything done.

Talking about local issues over a cup of tea

Talking about local issues over a cup of tea

I have worked in many facets of the Police during my service and have enjoyed them all, but my most recent post as Community Police Officer for Kinross is easily one of the most rewarding to date. The face to face interaction with the community, visiting the high school and chatting to students and dealing directly with quality of life issues for residents in my area provide an enormous amount of satisfaction.

I work a mixture of early shifts and late shifts, all of which usually start with well intentioned plans for the day ahead, usually starting with checking e-mails, having a look at the incidents in my area while I’ve been off duty and responding to Twitter and MyPolice messages addressed for my attention. Often I will attend meetings for Community Councils, or meetings with partner agencies at the High School. I may be asked to give a talk to a school group, activity group or a community group. Ideally I will have time to walk in my area, talk to local businesses and chat to members of the public to find out what issues they’ve been having. I may have follow up enquiries from previous incidents to attend to or attending calls which have been left for my attention. Of course all of these things come secondary if, and when something serious happens and the well intentioned plans are put to the side and it’s all hands to the proverbial pump.

Life as a Police Officer is not without its challenges, but the return is a tremendously varied and rewarding career which I wouldn’t change for anything.”

Chief Constable at Tayside reveals how she juggles family life with pressure job

February 11th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

This week the Chief Constable of Tayside was interviewed by one of Scotland’s largest tabloids; The Daily Record. We met Justine last year and demonstrated our software to pitch a collaborative pilot with the force.

Chief Constable Justine Curran

Chief Constable Justine Curran

It is been a pleasant surprise to meet so many locals who genuinely feel the police do a great job ! Articles such as this are a fantastic way to reveal the police are human too! Justine talks in the article about being female in the policing world and we can definitely relate to that!

“Women expect too much of themselves. They are always feeling guilty, whether it’s about work or their kids. If they can just do their best, then that’s amazing!”

Justine is blowing a breath of fresh air through the force with her attitudes to women being able to combine their careers with family life. Justine was very positive about MyPolice when we first showed her our product – despite not being online herself she certainly sees the value it will bring to the force.

“The important thing is that the people of Scotland think about what they would really like to see. People understand what matters locally and what they need in their area. We need to save money but we need to get that balance right. It is not a great time for any of us but the issue is how to get the best for the people of Scotland”

“I think community policing is the jewel in our crown and I think here in Tayside we do it very well. This could be a huge opportunity if we go about it very carefully.”

Brilliant stuff.

MyPolice meet the locals take three!

February 8th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

We went from Glasgow to Kinross to Milnathort to Auchterarder and back to Glasgow. Another full, rewarding and exhausting day putting the site into action.

Local post office sporting our poster

Local post office sporting our poster

Our second impressions of this part of our pilot area? When we meet people who have never had an interaction with the police they immediately think they have nothing to say. When we explain more about MyPolice it is always the case that everyone does have things they feel strongly about in their local area but they would never bother to pick up the phone or tell the police. They don’t think their opinion is important enough.

Also, we noticed that when first ask the question about interacting with the police many people associate it with negativity and respond with things like ‘I’ve never been in trouble before’, only after further explanation do they open up to all the positive interactions they have had such as getting their bike stolen or being in a car accident when the police were there providing a good service.

It’s really clear from all the conversations we have had that if someone has had a really poor experience with the police and they don’t have a channel to feed that experience back it’s not that they don’t like the police – they just loose faith in the service.

The team on the road once again!

The team on the road once again!

The most inspiring thing about this trip was the local knowledge we uncovered. In a matter of minutes people open up and tell you real details about where trouble happens and who is causing it. It is undeniable there is sometimes a sense of reluctance from people when it comes to sharing their email address – this has really pushed our thinking around having two routes into MyPolice; one for direct feedback and one to simply say what you think.

Oh, and of the forty people we spoke to – none of them were on twitter.

Interview with MyPolice on Canadian Police Blog

February 7th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

We are proud to be featured on the Candanian Police Blog for Social Media this week. They have supported our team from day one and for that we are very grateful!

Interview with MyPolice

Interview with MyPolice

1- Where did your vision for My Police begin and was their any one event that motivated you towards the creation of your citizen and police engagement/feedback platform?

Sarah had the idea when her friend was burgarled. She didn’t have a terrible experience but had some feedback for the officers. In response to this request the force sent round a big burly officer who clearly had better things to do with his time. This experience made Sarah ask herself “Why can’t  you talk to the police online?”

2- What if any are the underlying principles for your platform and what do you hope to achieve? Is there a goal in mind?

The goal is to transform the way the public and the police communicate. We  care about fairness and equality and believe no one should be treated unfairly or unjustly. We care about people in their communities coming together to work with the police, rather than against them.

3- It is often cited in Criminological theory, specifically in community policing theory and policy mandates that police work must include efforts to develop strong community relations to increase crime prevention and neighborhood resilience. How do you believe social media technology, your platform will assist police in achieving this outcome?

MyPolice is another tool for police to engage with the communities they serve. MyPolice makes it easier for Police to achieve this outcome by increasing their visibility; as well as being visible when you are out on foot patrol you can now be virtually visible when you are online. We recently wrote a blog post about MyPolice and community policing

Read the rest of the interview here…

New Community Pay Back Scheme

February 4th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

A new law has come into force across Scotland which means low-level criminals can be ordered to do manual labour instead of serving time in jail. From now on, courts will be encouraged to consider imposing a Community Payback Order as an alternative to jail terms of less than three months.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:

“We want to see low-level offenders out paying back communities by doing some tough manual labour. Punishment should be tough and justice should be immediate which is why we are piloting this new initiative. The aim is to get these low-level offenders out doing manual work to improve communities within hours of being sentenced.

Whether it is cleaning streets of graffiti, renovating elderly care homes, restoring fallen gravestones or, as we saw during the recent severe weather conditions, helping to clear pavements of snow, these offenders should be repaying their dues to communities they have harmed”

Our team have been having a long, hard think about this new scheme and what it means for Scotland. We put the question out on twitter and all the responses were fairly positive, even if a little skeptical.

Feedback from the public

Feedback from the public

Feedback from the public

Feedback from the public

It seems there is a general feeling of being in the dark about how it works and what it really means. We think there has to be more high profile community events so we can all get up to speed on the reality of the new scheme. MyPolice is a way to highlight the community pay back service – what it is, where it is happening and why you should care.

Community service has already been re-branded as ‘un-paid work’ in England and Wales and is now being branded ‘community payback’. MyPolice will make community service more visible, and it will simplify some of the complex terms and jargon around the concept.

New MyPolice function around community pay back

New MyPolice function around community pay back

This function will enable you to see who is doing community pay back in your area and what type of work is being carried out. What do you think?

Creating people-led solutions

February 3rd, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

We recently published  a story called “We could all help the Police if..” focused on parking in Tayside. This story has evolved into a brilliant example of a real conversation happening about a real issue.

We want MyPolice to signpost and broker information. Great to see links to the Pedestrian Liberation site

Conversation on MyPolice

Conversation on MyPolice

We are really excited the public are voicing their ideas about what MyPolice could be. Long may the conversation continue!

Get to know your community!

January 31st, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

The last few days we have spent in rural communities and the many conversations, debates and chats we have with police from all over the country mean our team are always coming up with new ideas about what MyPolice will do.

A common theme from the public’s point of view is knowing their police – who are they? what do they actually do? where are they based? what do they look like? how can I contact them?

Simultaneously, the police are working to engage with their communities despite re-distribution, secondments, transfers, promotions, re-locations, staff turnover and staff redundancies happening in every force!

This means that both sides are frustrated and often feel disconnected. We will fix this. MyPolice is a way for officers to introduce themselves to their community. Also, it is a chance for them to get to know the community they are moving into. Something that comes up time and time again is the notion of trust. It’s hard to gain trust and build confidence. We make this easier.

Future Function

Future Function

We are often asked questions about the reality of re-distribution. What if I’m on holiday? What if I am ill? Well, we all get sick sometimes and we all take holidays from work – police are people too! Using MyPolice you can share this with your community if and when you want to. Alternatively, you can ask a colleague to respond on behalf of you.

We are continually re-evaluating functionality, we are designing this product with the public and the police so it is a brilliant service that delivers.

MyPolice meet the locals take two!

January 29th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

We went from Dundee to Perth to Crieff to Comrie to Perth and back to Glasgow. Another full, rewarding and exhausting day putting the site into action.

Traveling to Comrie

Traveling to Comrie

Our first impressions of this part of our pilot area? Crieff is much busier, winding, sloped and more active than Kinross. We were there over lunch time and could see school kids everywhere ( eating chips, chocolate and sweets – hurry up Jamie Oliver – we want to work with you!)

We spoke to lollipop men, pharmacists, post men, parents, shop owners, school kids and pub owners. The biggest issues in Crieff? People genuinely don’t know if Crieff has police officers or not, and speeding. Crieff sits on a main road connecting much of northern Perthshire, and the traffic is continuous straight through the middle of town. We also heard words of trouble regarding families being moved in from difficult areas and causing unease amongst the residents.

We found that there was also a distance between the public and the police; the public thought, in general, that the police do a good job but they rarely have any interactions with them, they are not very visible and, in short, their paths do not cross often.

The high street in Comrie

The high street in Comrie

Comrie was visited at dusk, and the sleepy feeling settling in over the town was probably quite representative of it as a whole. We talked to a few groups in the two pubs; pretty much the only places with lights on! We got the feeling that Comrie residents think of their little town as being a place where very little happens, there isn’t much bother, where things change very, very slowly.

Talking of the hype and excitement that is surrounding an initiative and pilot like MyPolice didn’t have the same resonance that we have become familiar with; in a town where people tend not to remember their email addresses because they use them so infrequently.

Meeting parents at the school gates in Crieff

Meeting parents at the school gates in Crieff

Our second day of exploring the pilot area showed us one of the busiest centres that our officers are working in, and also one of the quietest. MyPolice has to be able to adapt and work in both, to deal with very different currents of communication.

We were reminded of the reality that some people think an initiative like MyPolice will never make change happen. They believe the police have their own agenda and don’t care what ‘normal people’ think. The truth is they do care and the individuals who influence ‘the agenda’ believe in MyPolice and what it can achieve.

Chatting to the locals in the supermarket

Chatting to the locals in the supermarket

The best thing about the past two days is all the conversations we have started. We leave cafes and walk past twenty minutes later and all the people are still debating local issues. We sparked off conversation in a whole train carriage!

We spoke to over 50 people and 3 of them were on twitter. The general feedback was that twitter was for celebrities and most people didn’t know what it was.

Today we are out and about in Auchterarder; collecting more stories for our officers to respond to. People are pretty excited to see the conversations and comments that the site will attract, we are too. Let’s do something extraordinary!

MyPolice meet the locals!

January 28th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Yesterday, was our first day on the road. We went from Glasgow to Dundee to Perth to Kinross to Bridge of Earn to Perth and back to Dundee. A full and rewarding day putting the site into action.

Butchers in Kinross sporting MyPolice stickers!

Butchers in Kinross sporting MyPolice stickers!

Our first impressions of our pilot area? We have gotten used to our inner-city living; close conveniences and long opening hours – essentially, we are spoiled in Glasgow. Many Scottish towns appear to come from the same blueprints and operate at a very different pace to our bigger cities; Kinross is one such place.

It is a town where everyone knows everyone; filled with people who have been raised there, gone to school there, married, settled down and in turn raised their own children all within the boundaries of the town. It is quiet and peaceful, it’s a linear town along a main road so there is a lot of traffic throughout the day but very little pedestrian activity. There is no mobile phone signal never mind an Internet signal!

Main road in Kinross

Main road in Kinross

We spoke to the local butchers, shop keepers, school kids, hotel managers, bar maids, a chef, a lecturer, a landlady, some builders, a Post Office manager and people on the buses. The only place it seemed we weren’t welcome was in the Royal Bank of Scotland. We received an equal balance of positive and negative stories. The main themes that we came across were police visibility, speed of response and attitudes/behaviors concerning young people.

Builders in Kinross sporting their MyPolice stickers

Builders in Kinross sporting their MyPolice stickers

Generally, people were excited about MyPolice coming to their town, they were thoughtful about their stories although doubtful about the difference that they would make. Residents were genuinely surprised, excited and impressed when we told them that Kinross was one of the first places in the country to try this idea.

We saw evidence of the beautiful community spirit one can only associate with Scottish towns, that timeless niceness that holds a group of people together. Glimpses of friendliness that we can become unfamiliar with in the city; bus drivers getting out of their seats to help an older lady up into the bus with her shopping, settling her into her seat and then taking her fare, shop assistants offering to carry heavy items not only out of the shop, but all the way up to the customers homes. Service Design could learn a lot from our wee toons!

MyPolice up on the wall

MyPolice up on the wall

Some people preferred to keep themselves anonymous, especially if the stories involved their businesses. This is a town where people can open their windows and call out to the Police Station; it is that small.

We found that two or three people weren’t online, although everyone had a family member living with them who had an email address (even if they couldn’t remember it). As we were writing down stories with people, we would have no way of showing them that their story was online without an email address – people were still keen to be part of the pilot, to have their story shared with the Police, even if they weren’t necessarily part of the ongoing conversation.

We spoke to around 30 people today, only one of them was on Twitter.

In Bridge of Earn we found out that their Community Officer was being shared with Kinross, and according to local residents spent the majority of his time in Kinross. There has been some huge increase in housing developments in and around Bridge of Earn, with some 200 additional residences including some troublesome families.

Local people in Bridge of Earn thought that their Police Station (or House, as they called it) could be so much better, so much more alive. We learned that the blinds were usually closed, and that the paint on the sign was fading – it’s actually very difficult to tell that it is a Police Station.

Today we are off to Crieff and Comrie; collecting more stories for our officers to respond to. People are pretty excited to see the conversations and comments that the site will attract, we are too. Let’s do something extraordinary!

Pioneering Officers

January 26th, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

These are the faces of the officers who are piloting MyPolice.

Officers piloting MyPolice
Officers piloting MyPolice

Click the following links to visit their local pages:

DCC Gordon Scobbie

PC Keri Murray

PC Ross Buchan

PC Morven Ramsay

PC Jason Salisbury

PC Euan Mitchell

PC Nicky Ward

PC Brian Easton

PC Stuart Johnstone

MyPolice believe that technology breaks down barriers. These officers have proven that to be part of MyPolice:

  1. You do not need to be a geek
  2. You have to have the desire to engage
  3. You have to realise the importance of the conversation being two way

Everyday these officers provide a service. That means they provide what people want when they want it. This is challenging. The biggest mistake most forces make is over promising and under delivering. That is what the majority of complaints are about.

The big challenge here is resources; budgets are being cut and organisations are shrinking. MyPolice is another tool for police to engage with and understand their communities.  The big question here is how do we work in this way cost effectively. One of the main aims of this pilot is to answer this question and prove MyPolice is a valuable solution.

MyPolice is not an effort to replace traditional methods of consultation. We believe the most effective information contains both. However, it is well known that some of the traditional methods are bureaucratic and expensive.

We want the officers to use this technology in a way that makes sense to them so they can use it as an enabler. At the heart of everything is the public. It’s not about fancy charts, it’s not about business models. It’s about making life better for people and keeping people safe.

Officers …. focus on your mission = Get into the hearts of communities. Build confidence. Show you care.