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.