Just a job

On Tuesday this week I had been planning to work from home. I got up early and fired up the laptop trying to log onto the systems I needed. After half a dozen attempts I gave up and decided it would be more productive to go into work. At the same time police officers were starting their shifts across the country and most importantly two police women in Greater Manchester were leaving home and heading to work. It was also so predictably normal and mundane.

What followed later that Tuesday morning has been well publicised.  I had never met PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes but like so many other people who never knew them they have both made a lasting impression on me. There have been some wonderful heartwarming stories about them, both at home and at work. And their photographs have been close to me throughout the week.

I have worked in communication roles with police forces since 1999 and during that time have been through many highs and lows. When I started it really was just a job, an interesting one for any ex-journalist, but in the end it was just about providing communication support to an organisation. Nothing more, nothing less. But I very quickly found that providing communication support to policing is much, much more than being just a job.

Police forces are often likened to families, and at times I am sure I would say a dysfunctional family. There are inevitable disagreements but when they are put under pressure they join together and are united. This has been so clearly evident during the past few days and even though I don’t wear the uniform that didn’t matter. I was just one of the team and part of the family.

During the past few days I, and the whole of the communication team, have been focused on ensuring we do the best for the families and friends of Fiona and Nicola, for their colleagues and the Force as a whole. This is what we are there to do, that is the job. That was the job we kept doing throughout the week.

There are few communication roles that ever require you to have to face such a tragedy and yet remain professional to ensure the job gets done. There are few positions where you have to be so careful to ensure you don’t overstep the legal boundaries. And there are few roles where you will be required to manage the communication around the death of a colleague.

I don’t write this blog because I want any praise or sympathy but merely I want to give people an insight into what can be the most enjoyable and the most testing of communication roles. But with the support of my close ‘family’ – the communication team – and the wider policing family each testing situation can be dealt with.

Life is very fragile, and policing remains a dangerous profession. This week we lost two from our family, we are all in mourning but we will come through it stronger. And the only thing I can do is to continue to try to do the best for the families, friends and colleagues of Fiona and Nicola. It is what I and my team will do today, tomorrow and every day as we continue on this nightmare journey.

Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes remain in my, and my teams, thoughts. RIP.

PC Nicola Hughes

PC Fiona Bone

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3 Responses to Just a job

  1. Thank you for sharing Amanda. The thoughts of the whole Comms community are with you and your team at this difficult time, Rachel

  2. wobable says:

    I had a situation last year, when a Police Officer on maternity leave was murdered by her partner. My over-riding memory of that time is wanting to do my absolute best for that individual and her family and friends. I was tasked with getting the victim photo to share with the media, and the only picture we could find was so small as to be almost unusable. The frustration and helplessness I felt trying to scan that photo was almost overwhelming – and (as in your case) I had never met the victim.

    Your words hauntingly reminded me of that time, and how “the dysfunctional family” of policing got me through it. I only had a small part to play in that case, but your words perfectly sum up the challenge of being a Police Communicator. This was something I had not considered when I blithely applied for my job, selfishly looking for a career closer to home.

    I guess what I am trying to say is, the public, the media – and even other comms professionals – don’t really consider what a Police comms officer role can involve. You’ve summed up many of the things I never thought of before I applied, and I hope others read this and gain a better understanding of what you have been through in the past week. Thanks for posting it.

  3. In a week that’s seen plenty of commentators weigh in on the human risk in Policing, I’ve not read anything as well-judged or honest. Great work.

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