The Role of an Early Action Community Beat Manager

I am Police Constable Andrew McGinty and have worked for Lancashire Constabulary for over 14 years. I am proud to be an Early Action Community Beat Manager (CBM), based in Blackburn.

I joined the Constabulary in 2001 after leaving university. I applied to be a police officer to undertake what I perceived to be a diverse job, where no day would be the same, where I would get the chance to arrest criminals and where I could do my best to help those people in society who needed it, and I can honestly say that this has been the case… for the most part at least.

I have worked in both South Division and East Division, mostly on Immediate Response, with secondments to the Custody Process Team and Target Team. I have faced many tough challenges and dealt with a diverse range of people in my time with the Constabulary, so when the opportunity came up in 2014 to join the Early Action Team, I jumped at the chance of a fresh new challenge.

With the Early Action Team I work collaboratively within a multi-agency team office, comprising of a number of staff members from a wide variety of partner agencies, including Troubled Families, Early Years, Family Support, Neighbourhood Officers, Community Well-Being Co-ordinators, Targeted Youth Support and the Fire Service, with links to a variety of other third-sector organisations.

We take ‘early action’ to prevent individuals and families from entering the criminal justice system or going into some other form of crisis due to personal or social problems. It is very much a people-centred approach, unearthing why they are experiencing problems in their life that are maybe causing them to frequently call the police, why the police are being called about them or why they may be on the fringe of committing crime or anti-social behaviour.

Essentially I care about people and therefore do my upmost to try and solve their problems and issues. I aim to get to the root cause of the issue early on, listening to what they actually have to say with regards to what is going on in their life and why they are experiencing such problems. I then work with other relevant agencies and organisations or sign-post them to the most appropriate help and support, to intervene early to solve that person’s problems and issues, rather than just picking up the pieces when things have gone horribly wrong – and unfortunately I have witnessed many such cases in my time when things have.

I generally work with individuals who are vulnerable members of society who suffer from mental health issues, drug and alcohol misuse, dementia, social isolation, domestic violence, learning difficulties, complex family issues or have a disability.

Due to the complex individuals we work with, the role requires a high level of communication skills, empathy, understanding, patience, perseverance, commitment and determination. I have found that not all individuals are willing or ready to accept the help offered to them and perseverance is required to assist them to change. Others require an intensive level of support due to their own personal circumstances and this therefore requires a high level commitment. I have also discovered that not all problems can be solved at the first attempt unfortunately. This requires the determination to continue with different approaches and solutions, with a ‘never give up’ attitude being crucial.

Deep down, there has to be that inner desire, want and need to genuinely make a difference in people’s lives. I strongly believe that modern day policing is not all about arresting and locking up criminals. I have been in the police service long enough to witness first hand that not all police call-outs relate to crime, victims or offenders. There is a high proportion of a police officer’s time that is spent dealing with those vulnerable members of society that need protecting and this is where Early Action CBM’s can play a vital role in addressing the needs of those vulnerable people and families to improve their lives and reduce the likelihood of them entering the criminal justice system, resulting in them, in the long-term, being less likely to need the services of the police and other agencies and creating better lives for those children, families and individuals.

When you are ‘really’ able to make a difference and a positive change in someone’s life - there is nothing more rewarding.

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