Sunday 1 March 22:14
An Evening On Shift - Hastings
Tash Lampert presents an evening on Op Marble (support of nighttime economy) in Hastings…Ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes? What will be the most eventful thing that happens all shift? Will Tash be able to find any cutlery? Watch to find out…
Thursday 12 February 12:16
Assault Police - A Blog by SC Lampert-Montier
There is a not so nice side to policing.
In the main, most of the people that we come across are friendly or at the very least civil. Even those we arrest. On occasion it’s not the first time they’ve heard the words ‘I’m arresting you…’ so they know the score and just get on with it. But everybody’s reaction is different. Some people cry, others laugh, others get a bit irritable, but most of the time I have found that just by talking to them person to person, they are perfectly reasonable.
Other times, you just can’t win.
In this story, the person involved wasn’t even being arrested.
It was the early hours of a Saturday morning in Hastings Town Centre. I was on patrol as part of Operation Marble (the planned police response to supporting the night time economy). Someone was being arrested and there was a fairly large crowd gathered to watch.
My involvement was simply to take down details of a witness and send her home. At first she was perfectly reasonable, talking to me and answering my questions. But then she began to shout that she knew the person being arrested, and she wanted to go to him, and try as I might to ask her to move, it was clear she didn’t want to co-operate. That said, her friend was really helpful, encouraging her to just give me her details so they would go home. She appeared to calm down.
But suddenly and without warning, the girl lunged forward. We are trained to make dynamic risk assessments, and make decisions on how to respond appropriately. My immediate thought was that she was going to harm me or one of my colleagues so I pushed her back. In a flash, she grabbed a handful of my hair from behind my ear, which was incredible in itself as it was tied up and I was wearing my hat, and with an iron grip refused to let go. I tried to pull her off, and reach for my captor spray, but as she was pulling so hard I couldn’t and in the struggle I fell. As I tumbled I could feel the hair come out almost strand by strand until I landed hard on my shoulder on the pavement.
I don’t know what happened to her then, but what I was told later was that my colleagues had arrested her for assault police. I was in a daze and couldn’t process anything clearly. I remember trying to get up off the pavement, conscious that my head was stinging and that my shoulder hurt. Door staff rushed over and helped me up. I put my hand to my head and realised that I was touching my scalp but I didn’t think it was too bad. I stood up and looked around and it was then that I saw the large clump of hair lying on the pavement. My legs went from under me. I think it was just the shock. I had no idea what had actually happened to me in terms of injury but I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t scalp attached to the clump. There seemed so much of it. All I did know was that my head was smarting more.
“Bag the hair! Bag the hair!” I kept calling! I was vaguely aware of an officer seizing it as evidence.
The same doorman who rushed to help had been holding me up and sat me in a police vehicle. I was in shock and complaining of a worsening pain in my shoulder. “Don’t worry” I recall him saying. “I saw it all. You’re all right.”
I was never to find out his name, but I am very grateful to him for his care of me.
Next thing, I was taken to the hospital by my sergeant and then one of the officers responsible for suggesting I become a special constable in the first place and who I have known for years strolled over to me in the cubicle and said with a grin “I knew it would be you! What have you done now?” before thrusting a chocolate bar into one hand and a can of coke in the other. “Eat! Drink!” he instructed. I did as I was told.
I provided a statement and photographs were taken of my head.
My shoulder wasn’t broken but I’d got some temporary damage from having fallen on it and needed a sling for a few days.
The girl was charged with assaulting a police officer in the execution of her duty, and she later pleaded guilty at Court.
Whilst the injuries may not look or seem that significant, and by no means are they the worst, it was still a shock. I had been having a relatively reasonable conversation when things suddenly changed. I blamed myself a lot for what had happened. Should I have done something differently? If I were a regular would I have foreseen her change in attitude? I had a real crisis of confidence. Was I cut out to actually be a special constable?
“The thing is, Nats,” said the staff safety trainer a few days later, “it doesn’t matter how many times you go out on duty, or how much training you receive, you can only ever do your best. Sometimes, these things happen, and it’s got nothing to do with whether you’re a special constable or the Chief Constable.”
Even so, I took some time off. I had lost my nerve, and when I finally did book on again, I couldn’t have asked for better support than I got. I cannot thank my colleagues enough for this, from the neighbourhood response team, the secondary investigation team who dealt with the case in the first instance, to my district, divisional and force-wide leads. It is because of them that I went back out. I haven’t looked back. I love being a special constable. Yes, of course there is the chance that something like that will happen again. Police do get assaulted but thankfully that is rare. As I have often said, most people are fine, engaging and supportive of the job police do.
And what happened to the clump of hair? Well, despite some witty and ‘helpful’ suggestions from which I’ll spare you, I am assured that it was given a noble send off by the property clerk who threw it away.
Saturday 6 September 16:29
Early turn with C-Section, and I’m crewed with PC Megit. We have worked together a few times now, and always seem to find lots of work to do! At briefing we are tasked with an address check on behalf of Kent Police and the report of a drunken male sleeping in a doorway!
En route to the drunk, we are notified of another sleeping on a bench. An area search is no trace and just as we are about to update we are tasked to a medical concern or medcon. We have been asked to attend by South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAMB) as there were concerns they would not be able to get to the patient. On arrival, we were unable to gain any response from the occupants, so SECAMB control rang the informant back only to find out that we had been given the wrong address – and so we and the ambulance crew moved 50 yards down the road to the right place! The patient is located and as there are no other issues for us, we leave her in the care of the ambulance service.
Next off we go to look for the drunk in the doorway, but there is no sign of him so we suspect that he’s woken up and gone home. We decide to head off to the address check but the control room advise us that there has been a further call re the drunk on a bench, so we return and sure enough…there he is! He tells us that he is just about to go home, and after a quick check on PNC and our own systems, he goes on his way.
Our next job is a grade 1, report of an assault. We arrive and see the informant who has reddening to the skin. She tells us what has happened to her and name of the other person involved. Having taken photographs of the injuries, we then go and arrest the suspect. A lot of people may think that most people try and resist being arrested or shout at us etc, but actually the opposite is true. Because we explain the reasons why a person is being arrested, they generally understand that it is part of a process and, like this individual, are reasonable and come along with us without any problems.
Once at custody, he is booked in, searched and ‘processed’ which means has his photograph and fingerprints taken. It’s then time to go and complete the paperwork, and try and have a bit of lunch as well.
Next job is to search for a vulnerable elderly misper, but as soon as we get on scene to assist with this, they have returned home; excellent result.
On the way back to the station to complete some paperwork, we are diverted to assist a colleague with a prisoner who has become non-compliant! (See above!) As it is a female prisoner, I am asked to assist with the search in custody, which I do. As I am about to leave, there is another female prisoner brought in, so I stay and search her as well.
My poor colleague PC Megit! All this time that I have been away, he has been doing all the paperwork for the earlier assault job. I’d managed to do a bit of it, but he has done the bulk. I make up for it by preparing a round of tea and promising to bake a cake!
General consensus: lemon drizzle cake! Stay tuned…
Wednesday 20 August 09:24
Day four - paddle boarding and canoeing.
Tuesday 19 August 21:34
Day three of the Hastings & Rother VCC’s annual summer camp to Wales.
Tuesday 19 August 21:31
The first two days of the Hastings & Rother VCC Summer Camp to Wales.
Friday 16 May 19:24
A brief insight into being a prisoner transport handler during Operation Harley - the policing operation supporting the May Day events in Hastings, 2014.
Monday 12 May 08:07
Brighton Equality Walk for Stonewall - 11th May 2014.
Members of Sussex Police join the walk including, T/CC Giles York and CI Katy Woolford…
Sunday 20 April 23:42
Sunday 20th April 2014
Briefing was at 3.00 pm today – so this is a bit different to my usual late shift that I like to do (the 5.00pm - 4.00 am). We are due to finish at 11.30 pm but may be on later. As before, my rule is always to stay on until the rest of the section go home, and as it is a Bank Holiday tomorrow, I have no intention of leaving early.
First job once we leave the station is to pack our bags and check that the car is all in order. Dave checks that the blue lights and sirens are working, as well as all the other usual car checks that need performing before we leave the yard.
I log into the in-car computer, or Mobile Data Terminal to give it’s proper name. This gives me access to PNC (the Police National Computer) and the force Command and Control system (to a lesser degree than if we were at our PCs). We can also update our status via this screen, so we can say whether we are 02 (patrol), 06 (at scene) or indeed 04 (refs!).
Our first job is to deliver a message to a local resident on behalf of Hampshire Police. I think carefully about how to deliver this. It is nothing to worry about, but I think about how I might feel if two police officers turned up on my doorstep, so I make sure that I reassure her immediately before passing on the information.
We are then assigned to the report of a burglary dwelling - this means a theft from someone’s home. Fortunately, not too much has been taken, and whilst Dave takes a statement from the victim, I conduct some house to house, the results of which I add to the system so that any secondary enquiries can be made a later date. We leave the scene prior to the arrival of the crime scene investigators but they are due to arrive within an hour of the call being received by Sussex Police.
There is a break in the jobs so we take the opportunity to have some food. After this, we are assigned to a number of different incidents - all of which are Grade 1. This means, that we make our way to them on blues and twos.
As a result of these jobs, I have to submit certain forms for the Child Protection Team, as well as intelligence logs. I know I go on about paperwork but it is a very real part of the role and an important one. It can take time and as I am getting more confident with the system, I find that I am speeding up a little, although my cries of ‘Dave!’ aren’t any less frequent as my long suffering crew partner has to come to my aid yet again…this time because I have written up a form and then closed it without saving it! Yep - time to redo it..!
Meanwhile, nights have reported for duty so we have to hand the car over to them. Dave fills out the book detailing the time we have returned, how many miles we have covered etc.
Once we’ve removed our go bags, and headed back in, we finish writing up reports and at some point go back to our respective homes, for we are back in at 3.00 pm Monday to do it all again!
Friday 18 April 11:25
A Weekend on Response
This weekend, I have joined Hastings Response ‘C’ section for a late/late 5pm – 4am shift on Friday and a night shift on Saturday (9pm – 7am).
There are three Special Constables supporting response this evening. I am crewed with Dave (worked with him a few times now), and think that we might do some traffic process. Both of us have an interest in such work, and tend to assign ourselves to sus DICs (possible drunk drivers) when they come in, so I don’t expect tonight to be any different.
However, we are assigned to a verbal altercation (or argument) but when we arrived, one of the parties was no longer there. No allegations were made, but nonetheless, we went through the appropriate procedure when attending such incidents, and to make sure that our informant isn’t scared to disclose any offences to us. Reporting a crime can be a terrifying prospect for a lot of people for a variety of reasons, and whilst there is help and support available, it takes a great deal of courage. They may not want or be able to accept or ask for help that time, but they need to know we are there, that we support them, and that we will be there when they call.
The second incident involved another argument which resulted in some criminal damage. Dave took a statement from the aggrieved and I took the necessary evidentiary photographs. These then have to be exhibited in the correct way, which means writing a statement to cover the taking of them, followed by the ‘burning’ of two copies of the photographs to discs (a master copy which is sealed in an exhibit bag, and a working copy for the file), as well as printing the photographs off. Dave does most of the typing to complete the file.
As there were two files to build, the paperwork took some time but the radio had been relatively ‘q’ for response so we had the luxury of being able to complete this in one hit, rather than have to break away to cover other grade 1 calls.
Of course as soon as we had finished…we got a grade 1, so it was blue lights back on and off to another report of criminal damage. The suspect was identified, and Dave made an arrest, with me searching for and seizing various exhibits. Again, that meant more…PAPERWORK…and as a result we were both off late by an hour and a half. As a regular officer, this is something that can happen a lot, so it stands to reason that as a special that will happen to. There is no way I am going to head off ‘on time’ and leave my colleague to do all the work (I don’t think you’d find any special that would), so I stay and finally get to bed at 6.30 am.
Ben has baked a cake. It is very tasty. I want to eat more than one slice, but…sorry, distracted by cake.
Tonight I am part of an Operation Marble crewing. Marble is the operation that runs across Sussex in support of the night time economy. Start off with a call to a group of people potentially involved in drug taking. A search of these people yields nothing, and details are taken, checked against the Police National Computer and details of the stop are loaded onto the system. We then stop a car due to manner of driving and words of advice given. Again, details are checked and the driver sent on their way. The details of the stop are uploaded onto the system.
There is a spot of bother in town, so we go to support the officers already on scene. When we arrive, all is in order, however my crew partner makes an arrest for an unrelated matter and so we go to the Custody Centre. Once there, I am asked to search a female detainee.
Once this is completed, it’s time for more…PAPERWORK…but that’s interrupted as Custody request the assistance of female officers urgently, so I along with a few others rush down there to assist the custody sergeants with a detainee.
By now, it’s half four, and I think it’s time for my second ‘feed’. I look back at the cake tin. There is still a slice left…
Paperwork completed, we go and assist some other colleagues with property searches. There are two that we need to attend. Neither yields anything relevant to the investigation, and so as dawn breaks and the sun rises, we head back to the station to finish up anything outstanding before booking off, on time.
Monday 7 April 15:30
Apologies for the blogging silence of late. I have recently changed the nature of my specialling duties and I wanted to get into this before giving you a new blog. I am still leading the cadets, and there we have welcomed a new leader – PC Mark Charlton (follow him on Twitter - @pcmarkcharlton). He is the beat officer for Hastings Old Town and has an infectious flair and enthusiasm that works really well with our unit.
For myself, I have gone back to doing response, and working mainly with C-section, led by Sergeants Wells and Wightwick. It has been a real joy to return to this sort of duty which involves responding to emergency calls (when someone dials 999). I used to do this all the time when I first started, but then began to do more NPT-type work, as in more community based work, but I fancied a change.
For some reason, I have found myself really enjoying a ‘late late’ shift which is from 5pm-4am. I think I like it so much because of the variety of work that you can get. The dynamic of the town changes so much from early evening to late night through to the early hours. I have been to domestic incidents, traffic stops, fights both inside and outside the home, and even had to administer first aid on more than one occasion.
On that point, I wanted to mention an occasion when I came across a young lady who had collapsed in the very early hours following a night out drinking. She was on her own, did not have a coat on and the temperature outside was very low. When we went to her, she was cold to touch and unconscious. I went through the usual procedure for dealing with such medical situations and an ambulance came and took over her care, but what I wanted to convey was this: go out, have a good time but please consider your safety above all things. This lady was found by us, and did not appear to have been the victim of crime, nor did she suffer any injuries or health problems, however it did cross my mind that not all could be so fortunate. I’m not trying to scare monger but I would urge everyone to make sure you have a coat or something to keep you warm, funds to get home, and know your limits.
This weekend just gone was Specials Awareness Weekend 2014. Some areas had special events taking place, others, such as Hastings did not but I am chuffed to bits to tell you that I saw so many specials reporting for duty on Saturday. I worked the ‘late late’ and when the night turn came, I saw at least five specials assisting them (A section).
What this shows is that specials aren’t afraid to come in and work some really ‘anti-social’ shifts. For those who are specials too, I am sure you’ve often been asked why you’re coming in on your Friday/Saturday night to police. It is a theme common to my blogs, that of trying to convey why people volunteer, and to be honest, not something that I am really sure I understand (despite having done so for Sussex Police some five years now). What I do know is that being a special attracts a certain kind of person – many want to go into the police full time – so they understand that there will be a significant number of shifts that take place at weekends, and at night, so making that commitment to such duties demonstrates, in my opinion, an understanding of the role.
My shift was spent with PC Wright of D section. For a Saturday night, it was relatively ‘q’ (you never, ever say the full q word unless you want to buy everyone doughnuts!). We assisted a Rother unit who had apprehended a shoplifting suspect by attending the supermarket in question, responded to ‘dropped 9s’ call (this means that somebody called us and then hung up, so we attend to check that all is well – it was), and were flagged down by a vulnerable male who had decided to try and walk home from the hospital to his house some seven miles away! We made sure he got home safely, before going to do an address check looking for a MisPer (Missing Person).
So, not the busiest of shifts, however, that is what it can be like sometimes. When you watch Street Wars or Traffic Cops, one has to remember that they are condensing hours worth of work into a ten minute segment. That is understandable – I can’t imagine such shows being that popular if they showed us all at computers writing up the paperwork! But as I say to the cadets, some duties will be eventful and on others nothing will happen, and if you still keep coming back, then it’s the job for you. Because our presence is enough. Being here is enough, and the help we give to our regular colleagues on section is always gratefully received. Even more so if you can make a good brew!
Please follow me on twitter @tashlampert
And give the cadets a follow too @hastings_cadets
See you soon!
Tuesday 19 November 13:19
Three Busy Days...
So far, this has been the month of the cadets, and that’s set to continue. This week, there has been A LOT going on with them, from promotions and Divisional Awards to recruitng the next intake of cadets. Here’s what they’ve been up to.
Wednesday 13th November 2013 - Promotions
Our promition procedure is quite involved - the cadets have to complete a written paper, the content of which varies depending on the rank, and if passed, progresses forward to the interview stage. This time round, our new leader, PC Mark Charlton (twitter @pcmarkchartlton) was on the interview panel with me, and he was really keen on seeing the calibre of cadets in the unit and what they had to offer. Up for grabs was Senior Cadet, three section leader positions and four leading cadet posts. Nerves are frazzled, and fingernails chewed down to the quick as one by one they came in.
Each candidate was tested in the areas of personal responsibility, resilience, teamwork and response to bullying and exclusion. These are quite big topics, but the candidates are given packs to go through and can prepare their answers well in advance. Indeed, Charlton’s first question to them all was ‘what have you done to prepare for this interview?’ Most had had the benefit of our now departed leader Greg’s workshop on competency based interviews, so knew about some of the techniques in which to prepare their answers, predominately the use of the STAR model.
Those who had followed this really stood out, because their answeers were concise and informative and gave us all the information we needed without prompting, but some needed a bit of coaxing in order to get their answers from them, and some of this was invariably down to nerves. That said, the standard was very high in general and Charlton was very impressed with the quality of answers. The commitment and capabilities of the cadets really shone through - they showed how they WANTED the promotion, and the chance to lead or progress up the ranks. As I often say, give a young person a challenge and watch them run with it!
In the end, we had a new senior cadet, and three new section leaders, but we couldn’t tell the leading cadets the results as one candidate was unwell so their interview was postponed.
Thursday 14th November 2013 - The East Sussex Divisional Awards
Sadly, for the first time in the three years that the cadets have been honoured at the awards, I was unable to attend, due to operational commitments, however, under strict instructions to tweet lots of photos, the six recipients went off.
Whilst I believe that cadets are great for turning up week on week, volunteering their time to the community etc, we their leaders, and perhaps more importantly the cadets themselves, have never sought praise for simply turning up. In fact, it has often been put to me by them that turning up is what they’re supposed to do. It is however with great pride that for the three times they have been honoured it has been for jobs that any officer could be proud of, and this year’s award was for their stellar work at Pirates Day - reuniting 14 found/missing children with their families, dealing with two property issues and co-ordinating a medical emergency. They were presented with their certificates by the High Sheriff for East Sussex, and the citation was done by Hastings District Commander Paul Phelps.
Afterwards, they ate cake. That reason alone is why I’m gutted I couldn’t go. No, hang on, sorry - to support the cadets. I’m gutted I couldn’t be there for them. Yeah, that’s it..!
Saturday 16th November 2013 - New recruits interviews
If there is one thing about all the cadet units across Sussex it is the very long waiting lists of young people wanting to join up. We have recently lost a lot of cadets to age (they have to leave on their 18th birthday) and so we opened the recruitment window. We had a lot of appliants, and so we interviewed 8 people. As a unit we decided to change the structure of our recruitment process to include serving cadets on the interview panel. This worked out very well, because those applying to be a cadet got to meet some of those they could be serving with, and also gave the cadets themselves the opportunity to have an input on who comes into the unit.
I was pleasantly surprised at the maturity with which they approached this task. There was no ‘I don’t like the look of you’ type reactions to the candidates; they genuinely listened to what each one had to say and made some very interesting observations, taking the role seriously and were very methodical. By the time this blog is posted, the results of the interviews will have been disseminated, but what I can say is that the standard was extremely high, and we are very much looking forward to serving along side the new recruits and meeting them again in January for their initial training course.
Oh yes - and the final candidate for leading cadet was interviewed as well…results of the promotions to follow!
Monday 11 November 21:00
In the past few weeks, the cadets have been assisting at some bonfire celebrations, namely the large policed operations to support the Hastings and Rye events, but also patrolled a school event too.
Whilst the cadets have for many years provided assistance to the Little Ridge School event, they have not been included in the larger scale operations (in Hastings & Rother at least). Now, this does not mean that we had them out as part of the planned police response but instead they were logistics support, providing food and hot drinks to the officers at the control suites.
It may seem to you that this is an insignificant role, and why would the cadets want to do this? But having been at Hastings and Rye with them, I can say that it has achieved many things. Firstly, it has ensured that every officer is fed and had a cuppa. Both the Hastings and Rye events have been bitterly cold, especially the latter, and so knowing that when they walked into the ‘base’ they would have a hot drink in their hands within a minute was so important.
Secondly, it has made the cadets more visible. For those of you who have read my blogs before will know, one of my main goals has been for the contribution of the cadets to be recognised by their peers - that they will be viewed as members of the police family and that any air of mystery surrounding them is removed. They themselves have pushed hard to be considered resources, and whilst fully accepting the limitations to their deployment (for their own safety as much as anything) they are always asking for ways in which they can help that is appropriate.
Unilaterally, the officers and PCSOs seemed very pleased to see the cadets. Their job was to ensure that everyone got a packed lunch and then signed for it - and goodness help anyone that didn’t sign! The event Silver Commander was asked to sign for his (‘Quite right too!’ he quipped) and one officer scribbled on a cadets arm when she asked for his signature!
Any officer caught opening other bags in search of a preferred flavour of crisp were reprimanded, and it was quite amusing to see a few shame faced officers skulking off with their food following a telling off! But it was all in good spirits and I was delighted to hear the laughter from both cadets and officers, because that sort of banter is what encourages and nurtures a one team spirit.
The Little Ridge School Bonfire saw the cadets in their more traditional role of supporting family events, and engaging with young people. As I have often said, the cadets are Sussex Police’s young ambassadors in the community, and always deliver a professional level of service. And what isn’t professional about dancing to Gangnam Style? The children loved it, and I think that it showed people that the police are not stand-offish or distant but capable of having fun as well. Of course there is a time and a place for all things, but like the local NPT sergeant who was dancing during the carnival, it was great for people to see the other side to us.
All three events were terrific fun for us to go to and Amy our A/Senior Cadet and Cadet Jake managed to sniff out hot dogs at two of them. But better than that (though the Rye one had onions too!) the cadets showed themselves in a positive light to both the public and their colleagues, and for that I am delighted and so very proud.
Tuesday 23 July 21:05
Hastings Pirates Day 2013 - Cadet Contribution
So this week in Hastings, Pirates Day was upon us. This is not an event that I have ever been to before, either as a pirate or a special constable, so I was really excited to go along. This year, the cadets were asked to provide support to families and assist in reuniting lost/found children with their parents. Six cadets volunteered for this duty and reported to the Police station for briefing with Chief Inspector Lee Lyons, Event Silver Commander, who tasked them to patrol the promenade, an area that extended about half a mile. Obviously we weren’t alone in our patrol – there was a contingent of police and PCSOs – but I really wanted to tell you about the cadets’ part in the operation. Emma, our event controller was based in the multi-agency event control room and was able to keep us in check but also provide information to and from the cadets for the event marshals and medical support services, something she had to do a couple of times. I was on the ground with both police and cadet radios, walking around as though part of some unusual variation of pin the tail on the donkey (or attach the walkie talkie to the special).
Having been briefed and dropped off to the seafront, we commenced our patrol. It was incredibly hot, especially in the hi-vis jackets and hats that we had to wear, but none of the cadets complained. With the order to keep hydrated and take breaks/rests as and when needed, I was proud and not least impressed with their perseverance to provide a quality service to the public. Breaks were built in to Emma’s plan, and these were taken, but due to the nature of our work, they weren’t always taken on time…
Throughout the shift, we were approached by members of the public for various reasons, but on 14 occasions, the cadets assisted in reuniting children with their families. Some of these children were reunited through the excellent wristband system in place whereby parents would write their contact details on disposable wristbands so if they became separated from their child we (the police or other partner event support officers) could get them back together swiftly. The rest were given wristbands by the cadets once we had returned the children to their loved ones.
What impressed me yet again about the cadets was their sheer professionalism and willingness to help out where they could. As one of their leaders, I was so proud to see them ‘step up’ to the plate and provide as excellent a service that any officer or staff member aspires to give as a member of Sussex Police. People turned to us as a force throughout the day, and if they got a cadet they still received a high standard of assistance and they must be congratulated for this.
Whilst we were very busy, (children, property and even medical emergencies), there was still time to look upwards at the magnificent skydiving pirates, and even to meet one of my lovely twitter followers, Sid! I love seeing Hastings like this - sunny with people out enjoying our lovely town, this year with the world record of most pirates in one place unchallenged. And as we stood down from our duties, having completed 17 jobs in total, I couldn’t help but notice how proud of themselves the cadets seemed knowing they had made a very real contribution to the operation. To paraphrase a colleague in Brighton, tweeting after the event, cadets, you truly are an important part of Team Sussex and appreciated by your regular colleagues very much.
Friday 1 March 08:10
A Special Constable's Farewell to Chief Superintendent Graham Bartlett
A couple of years ago, I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend the Extended Police Family Board. This meeting, chaired by a Chief Superintendent, convened quarterly to discuss volunteers, special constables and cadets. I knew that it was attended by a member of the Sussex Police Authority and higher ranking officers and staff, and there I was, a special, nervously twiddling my thumbs wondering whether I had the ability to hold my own.
My presence was on the initiative of Chief Superintendent Graham Bartlett, who wanted the specials to be represented by one. My name was put forward and agreed and as I am also a cadet leader I was able to offer a view on that as well.
From the beginning, Mr Bartlett made me feel welcome, and that my opinion was as valued as anybody else’s. At the time, the issue of cadets going on observer attachments with regulars was being discussed, and on the verge of being rejected. I asked Mr Bartlett for the opportunity to write a strategy and framework. To my surprise, he agreed.
From what I was later to learn about him, I should not have been so. He has attended many attestations of new special constables, annual cadet parades, and volunteer and specials awards ceremonies. I was always bumping into him at these ocassions, or around HQ and he always said hello and had a chat with me. As Divisional Commander of Brighton & Hove, he also avidly supported the cadets there, and went to their awards evening. He has lent his time to the extended police family where he can, and been committed to the continuous improvement of the opportunities for volunteers, specials and cadets.
On a personal level, the impact of his decision to allow me to write what would eventually be called the Volunteer Cadet Observer Scheme (VCOS) was very significant because now, I had to write the thing! And it had to be well considered and credible. But I knew at the back of my mind that if I put the time and effort in that it needed, he would read and consider it. When after a few months (and a lot of consultation with others) I was finally able to submit the document, I knew that it wasn’t disappearing into cyber obscurity. For those who follow my blogs and twitter, you will know that the Board (the members of which are also very supportive of all volunteers) approved VCOS.
Last year, I was presented with an award for my contribution to the extended police family. Afterwards, whilst standing there with Mummy Lampert, Mr Bartlett came over to speak with us. He praised the quality of the report that I submitted. As flattering as this was to hear, I made a point of saying that no matter how well written a piece of work is, if nobody is willing to read it, it doesn’t matter. That paper would not have made it to the Board for consideration had not supported the concept as I had set it out. But that’s the type of person he is – one who is prepared to listen to his colleagues of all ranks. That is very inspiring, and something that I will always live by: that everyone has something to offer, and it is important to give people a chance to put forward their ideas and opinions no matter what their rank or experience.
With Mr Bartlett’s retirement from the Police, my time has come to an end on the EPF Board as well. But I am delighted to have worked for him and with him. He will be greatly missed.
Sir – thank you for your interest and support of the Extended Police Family, to which you have undoubtedly made an overwhelming contribution, leaving such a positive impact and legacy in so many ways. I wish I could list them all here. I would like to thank you too for your encouragement, support and belief in me as a person and special constable. You have left a lasting impression and one that I shall always be inspired by. I wish you the very best for the future.
Friday 15 February 17:14
My latest video blog on leadership featuring some colleagues from Sussex Police!
Saturday 9 February 22:52
Hastings & Rother Senior Cadet Sam Maclean - Guest Blog
My name is Sam Maclean and I am the senior cadet at the Hastings & Rother VCC. I have been serving with the unit for three and a half years. I want to talk about VCOS which is the Volunteer Cadet Observer Scheme. VCOS gives the cadets the opportunity to see frontline policing by going out with full time police officers in a controlled way.
The Scheme was piloted inHastingsand I was one of the first cadets inSussexto go out on it. I went out as much as I could and always enjoyed it. When it was approved for all cadets I was really glad that me and the other cadets inHastingshad helped get this approved as it was something that our Cadet Coordinator SC Natascha Lampert-Montier had written with support from lots of other people. As a unit we are really grateful to everyone who had a part in making this possible.
For VCOS you have to be sixteen and have served in the unit for at least a year. You then apply to the leaders and meet withHastingscadet liaison sergeant, PS Yates, and our parents. The sergeant will then sign us off to go out.
I have learnt so much about policing since I started the scheme and would recommend it to any cadet. I didn’t fully realise before just how much variety there is. You can be at a report of some youths climbing on a school roof one minute to the call of some people seemingly stranded on the beach the next (they were both ok).
Today, I was due to go out with NPT accompanying PS Yates (who covers central Hastings) and SC Lampert-Montier but the sergeant was called away to assist on something that was not suitable for me to attend. So I spent a couple of hours with NPT Officers PC Archer and PC Heneke. We did some patrol, and attended a few calls. When PS Yates came back, I crewed with him and SC Lampert-Montier on some hi-vis vehicle patrol but by then it had started raining and things were very quiet. I have learnt that policing can be like that though - some days will be really busy and others are calmer. But I enjoyed it and think that it is good to see just how different shifts can vary. I am really looking forward to the next VCOS opportunity.
Thursday 7 February 17:13
A Little Trip to HQ
It’s been a busy morning for me. Today I went to HQ for a seminar on social media. It was like a who’s who of the Sussex Police twitterati. So many people that I follow were there, and it was nice to finally say hello to @Peacehaven_PC and @Peacehaven_pol aka PC Jon Attfield and PCSO Juls Perrin (turns out they do exist haha
The seminar itself was excellent and very interesting. We discussed the use of social media and some of the associated laws. The speaker gave us some very useful information on the subject, as well as a wealth of case law. I shall certainly be referring to it for some time to come.
What struck me most about today, however, was the mix of people in attendance. This was not a two-tiered event, i.e. one session for senior officers/managers, one for everyone else. It was an inclusive event attended by people of all ranks. It was a real mixture of people from across the force. I like the openness this arrangement afforded. Everyone being together created a good atmosphere and perpetuated the idea that we are one team, each with our own important and varied roles within it. I am drifting back to the territory of leadership and accessibility, so I won’t expand too much on this here as I am working on that blog at the moment.
Talking of which, I’m meeting with Supt. Nelson next week to talk about leadership, and (hopefully) get him on film as part of my vlog. And on that point, officers at Hastings and surrounding area beware – I am out and about with my camera!
If you have any questions about my roles or if there is anything or anyone particular you would like me to blog or vlog about relating to police business then please do get in touch via twitter @tashlampert. I look forward to hearing from you.
Take care all,
Monday 4 February 02:03
What is Good Leadership?
Apologies for the blog silence of late! I am currently working on a piece (and vlog) about leadership. I am very interested in this subject matter, being a leader and developing young people to be as well. I have been very fortunate to be led by some extraordinary people at Sussex Police.
My experience has been one of accessibility. I can remember on one of my first Specials training weekends DCC Giles York came over and chatted with all of us; at my attestation ACC Robin Merrett stayed afterwards to speak with the new recruits and their families (he’s always supportive and engaging at many specials and cadets events); I’ve been to several events where Chief Superintendents Graham Bartlett (Chair of the Extended Police Family Board/Brighton Divisonal Commander) and Robin Smith (East Sussex Divisional Commander) have been, and I know that they attend cadet parades and awards ceremonies when they can, as do the other Divisional and District Commanders. I could go on, but my point is that our senior leaders are accessible, and actively encourage us to engage with them. I think they would be mortified if any of us felt they were unapproachable.
There is something to be said for this kind of visible leadership. I think it is very good for morale. I’ve been out on duty and seen officers from Chief Inspector rank down patrolling with the rest of us. I believe Superintendent Simon Nelson is often out and about as well! I find it inspiring.
Anyway, those are my thoughts for now. Stay tuned for the ‘proper’ blog and video, which is being contributed to by lots of people (some you may know from Twitter). In the meantime, be safe, be happy and take care.
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Tuesday 11 December 07:35
Smells Like Team Spirit
On Saturday 8th December 2012, the Hastings & Rother Cadets once again took on the Hastings NPT in a friendly football match. Their previous encounter back in July ended with them losing by a modest margin of 15-3. This time it was a little different, with NPT only walking away with a victory of 7-4. But then, the cadets that the coppers faced on Saturday were a very different team than previously. This time the cadets had practised, and we also had a new intake about a month ago!
When the cadets first came up with the idea of challenging NPT earlier in the year, it was because they wanted to integrate themselves with their professional colleagues outside of the work environment and also put together a team strengthening event for everyone; and what better way than through sport?
As we saw with the Olympics and Paralympics this summer, sport truly does unite us. I’m sure, like me, many of you were glued to the television not wanting to miss a moment of what truly was a golden summer for Great Britain in terms of medal haul, but also the world. Something that particularly pleased me was that each team had at least one female representing them, and that there was a breadth of representation from across the world at the Paralympics. I found it hugely inspirational.
In our own little way, the two teams put forward by the cadets and NPT were a reflection of this spirit. Nobody was turned away because of gender or ability – if you wanted to be part of the team then you were welcome to play (although once on the pitch things got serious!). Both teams on Saturday had women playing (with PC Heneke taking a penalty for NPT and scoring!), and you can’t accuse either side of being full of Rooney’s and Ibrahimovic’s. But that wasn’t the point! Did it really matter who won? (Ok, yes it mattered – it mattered a LOT!) Or is what’s important that before both the matches there was a buzz of excitement and friendly banter?
The cadet Sergeant made it quite clear that he was going to be playing for the ‘winning’ NPT side, and the cadets jokingly said that was fine, they didn’t want him hindering them…One of the PCSOs, publicly declared that NPT would win 22-2 even repeating this over and over again to his wife on the day of the match…team tactics were drawn on whiteboards…there was posturing galore. Oh, you name it! It all went on. But do you know what the best bit was? Everyone was smiling, laughing and joking.
The main joke was on NPT though who had invited the cadets to play again, expecting it to be another landslide victory. The fact that it wasn’t made it all the better! The cadets undertook a proper warm up, and can still walk. NPT didn’t and now ache. Everybody got nice and muddy – there was a lot of rolling on the grass and dramatic grabbing of shins by a certain member of NPT who is now in the running for best actor at next year’s Oscars. When the final whistle blew all I heard was ‘good game’ and ‘let’s do this again soon’ as everybody shook hands and parted as friends.
The buzz hasn’t gone away. I was talking about the match with my colleagues again today. It has drawn everyone together, with the joke being that all future applicants to either the cadets or NPT will be assessed on their football skills! I was even told that NPT clubbed together for their own strip so that this tradition can continue, and expand to include everyone in the station at a five aside tournament.
The only constant is change, but there is nothing to fear that cannot be faced when you find something that binds us together, even if it’s just a little football match every now and then; something that the combined cadet and NPT team have built together: our present and our future.