In The Spotlight
Tell us about yourself?
Currently I am Superintendent of local policing at Birmingham East Local Policing Unit, I have the West Midlands Police lead for Engagement, a member of Board of Governors at Sandwell College and a member of the Learners, Quality and Curriculum Committee. I was the least likely candidate to be a cop.
I grew up between Rochdale, Bristol and Pakistan. I went to eleven schools in eleven years. Three weeks after my 17th birthday, I joined the Royal Navy as a helicopter engineer. I learnt more about myself in that first year than in the previous 17 years of my life. You get very confident about your own abilities, because you have to make life changing decisions everyday.
I didn’t know anyone else who had joined the military and in the 6 years of being in the Royal Navy I had never seen another Pakistani-Muslim officer. That is very different to today’s day and age. It’s a very clear career path. There is a lot of variety.
After leaving the military, I joined the police service at Avon and Somerset, at the age of 25. The beauty of policing is that you come to work with an idea and you can guarantee that it will change. Every single day, things will happen. My family have always been very supportive.
Explain any on-going programmes in local policing?
Public engagement is the key. Having the community involved in what we do is more important than ever. Public services use the term “hard to reach” – I don’t believe any community is hard to reach. Whatever you have to do, you should do it in the right way. Being the Superintendent for East Birmingham, we look across communities to see how we engage through social media, face-to-face and over the Internet.
Social media like Twitter is good to tap in to a completely new group of people. If for instance we create a web chat – people will engage with us that never have before. We have streamed out some of our local meetings. But face-to-face is really important. It’s important that all areas of Birmingham have local policing; every area has a dedicated team or sergeant, PC or PCSO’s.
Very often people don’t know who their local cops are. But now what we have done is all this information is available online. The public can see when their local police officers are available and how to contact them.
What is the Independent Advisory Group (IAG)?
The concept of IAG is to tap into issues that are more relevant on a more local level, more strategic issues such as stop and search, counter-terrorism, guns and gangs, CSE, all of these things that hit the national headlines. It is about picking people from the local community and working alongside them. It’s about gaining their trust. We will pick around 20 people which match the demographic of East Birmingham – from different ethnicities and religions. What we have done in the past is that the police have set the agenda and we just go from there. It should be independent of the police, advising the police and it should be a group from the community.
How do you intend to implement it?
The IAG will be setting the agenda about the issue. The issue will come through their own contacts. It allows the police service to be more representative of the community. My view after 21 years of policing is that if we don’t reflect the community we serve, we will not have the best opportunity to gain the public’s confidence. It is a real challenge. At the moment, West Midlands Police does not reflect the community of the West Midlands. About 9% is only BME.