“It matters to me because this is my community too”

I joined Bedfordshire Police in 2007, and I’ve been a PCSO for nine years.shezad-ahmed-din-feb-2017

I saw a poster about the role, and I applied because I wanted to give something back to the community. My objective has always been to help out in my community, and I knew a couple of people who used to work for the force who said they thought I would make a good PCSO, which encouraged me to apply.

After I applied I was invited to interview and then had to pass a fitness test. Then we had around 12 weeks of classroom based training before going out on duty with police officers. PCSOs were relatively new at that stage, but I got a lot of support from my Sergeant and other officers who helped me find my feet. In turn, I helped them learn more about the role of a PCSO. One thing I’ve learned since being here is that there is always someone here for guidance if you need it.

When I joined I lived near the centre of Bedford and so I knew the problems the area had with street drinking and anti-social behaviour, and I wanted to help resolve those issues. They mattered to me, and they still do, because this is my community too.

I spent my whole career as a PCSO in and around Bedford town centre until I joined the Community Cohesion Team earlier this year. I enjoyed being in the thick of it, getting to grips with the problems faced by residents and was dealing with issues like anti-social behaviour on a daily basis. Now my work is slightly different in a sense that I’m involved more in community events and engagements, helping to continue to build relationships with the community.

One of the key things about working as a PCSO is working with partners to resolve issues.

For example, we received reports of a number of youths smoking cannabis in the communal areas of some flats near the river in Bedford. They did not live in the building so they should not have been able to access it, but we found that there was an issue with one of the doors and they were able to enter the building that way.

The residents had been trying to reach out to the housing group to get it resolved but had no luck. We were able to get hold of CCTV which showed how the group were accessing the property, and were able to get the housing group out to do an inspection. As a result they acknowledged the problems with the doors, and because we were able to work with residents and present such a strong case, they fitted new ones and the youths never came back.

I also worked closely with the residents and put them in touch with their local Neighbourhood Watch Group. They set up their own group and now have regular meetings. As momentum grew, more residents joined the group and started to raise issues.

I found the whole case very rewarding and was pleased I was able to help resolve this for the residents.

Working with other agencies, like housing associations or councils, is a key factor of being a PCSO. We’ll touch base with them often and see if there are any issues they need police assistance with. We’ll see if an area needs to be put on our radar as a hotspot, which may result in more active patrols in the area. Some problems aren’t really for the police to deal with, but sometimes our involvement can put the wheels in motion for the problem to be resolved.

I joined the Cohesion team earlier this year after I saw the role advertised internally. I approached the team for more information and they encouraged me to apply; I live locally and have a lot of contacts in the community already. It’s different to when I first started out; I get to spend more time getting to know the community and engage with the public.

My favourite thing about being a PCSO is being able to get involved with, and represent, the community. It’s nice that people can come to me and talk to me about problems as I am familiar face within the community. I hope people feel confident in approaching me when they see me, that they just think ‘oh look, it’s Shezad.’

My advice to anyone thinking about becoming a PCSO is: go for it. It’s a really good job, and you get to spend time with lots of different people, learning more about the communities of Bedfordshire. There is more to the role than meets the eye; I think some people are put off because they think we are limited in what we do. It’s not like that; it’s just that our approach is different to that of a police officer.

I recently took a mentorship course and will support new applicants to the force through the recruitment process and into their early years with the force. When I started I had a lot of support from officers, so I wanted to repay that.

PCSO Shezad Ahmed Din has been a PCSO since 2007, starting in Bedford and recently joining the Community Cohesion Team.

Applications for PCSOs are now open, and close on 26 February. To apply click here.

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