Open a newspaper any day of the week and you’re likely to read a bad news story about the police force and quite recently that would be for very good reason. Of course, we’re used to it in social care, aren’t we – care home exposes in the Daily Mail and Panorama specials…And yet, editors and writers rarely save a column inch for the squillion stories of dedication, passion and self sacrifice in both sectors.
And so, this writer is cheerily tapping the keys today because an Inspector at Northumbria Police Force has won the Outstanding Achievement Award at the Finals of The Great British Care Awards…
Julie Rana has worked on the Neighbourhood Policing Team for 14 years and she’s responsible for protecting and safeguarding vulnerable people while ultimately trying to find solutions to their problems. And of course, often such people are within the social care realm so partnership working is extremely important:
“The connection between police and social care is absolutely vital. One thing that struck me when my husband and I went to the awards night was that we were the only police officers there! A judge on our table explained that no, police do not normally attend – that work between police and other agencies is seen as rare. I’m not sure how other police forces are, but it’s certainly not new in Northumbria!”
Julia was nominated by a social worker with a particularly difficult case of domestic abuse, violence, coercion and control. It’s well known that multi-agency working can, almost by definition, fall foul of miscommunication, bureaucracy and time delays but Julia and her team impressed with exemplary practice: sharing information, being reactive to emergency, instituting procedure to mitigate risk and building an empathic rapport with the client.
In this particular case, an elderly disabled gentleman was being abused by the son and daughter living with him. Home Care workers – eyes and ears on the ground – saw what was happening and alerted the police.
“But ultimately,” Julia explained “he had a loyalty to his son and daughter and his love for them wouldn’t allow him to pursue any prosecutions. It was therefore a really difficult situation because it was about trying to safeguard him from harm but also doing something effective to stop it from recurring. Most of the partnership cases are the really complex, problematic ones where you need a full agency approach to resolve the issues.”
Eventually the son assaulted the daughter and she agreed to give a statement which enabled Julia to apply for a Domestic Violence Protection Order meaning he had to leave the home which protected the elderly gentleman also.
This is just one of very many cases, of course, and Julia is proud to have been part of not only changing lives for the better, but saving them in certain instances too:
“We have a huge remit – we don’t just manage victims but we target offenders, deal with domestic violence, registered sex offenders, all types of crime and anti social behaviour, but in terms of vulnerable victims they are at the heart of what we do.”
Neighbourhood Policing is by no means a new concept but Julia would be the first to say the role has evolved over time:
“14 years ago we didn’t manage victims the way we do now. I don’t think the word safeguarding even existed back then. Domestic violence was there, of course, but it wasn’t publicised to the extent it is now. The work we did was minimal compared to now which is immense in how we support victims.”
When I ask Julia what makes her good at the job she struggles to blow the proverbial trumpet but admits that caring about people is in her nature and because of that she can see what they’re going through and just want to help make life better for them. She retires in January and intends doing charity work with women’s refuges and local food banks.
“Winning this award has been a complete whirlwind and what’s lovely is it’s a fitting end to what’s been a thoroughly enjoyable career and so this has made it for me. I feel proud and humbled that I was even nominated.”
Julia might be retiring imminently but she should be held up as a role model for nationwide Neighbourhood Policing Teams, present and future, as embodying the transparent model that works: caring, sharing, collaborative partnerships that always puts the vulnerable first.
Congratulations and we wish you a long and happy retirement!