Tonight I will be logging on to do some work. Thankfully I can do it from home because it links to the documentary being shown about work. Despite the impact of social media there is still a huge demand to create interesting and entertaining documentaries. But why do we do them, and is there something to be gained for all the effort that is put in?
We receive an average of between seven and 10 documentary request at work every week. They range from the serious to the comedy and from the detailed look at a specific crime or issue through to a broader look at policing as a whole. They can be one off programmes or a series requiring significant investment of time.
People love to see behind the scenes or view something new when watching TV documentaries. This means giving a significant amount of access with appropriate checks and balances in place. I am not going to delve into the detailed process that we have for assessing, reviewing and then undertaking a documentary. But the focus of it all is to increase access and transparency while minimising any risks. We have found that there are always staff willing to take part as they recognise the benefits from sharing their troubling experiences at work.
There is no doubting that taking part in a documentary series requires a significant investment of time. Mainly from the communication team but also from the officers or staff who are going to be involved. Extensive groundwork is required to ensure the best results and progress throughout filming.
It has been clear though that there is a lot to be gained by undertaking a documentary with an appropriate focus to support operational priorities. As The Force: Manchester starts again tonight for the second 10 episode run on Sky One at 10pm, it will give people a chance to see the effort officers put in to catching criminals, the calls that are a drain on resources and the variety that every day brings. The first series of programmes at the end of last year saw people having meaningful conversations about what policing should be and when there should be a call for help. It was great to see the discussion taking place about the issues that matter to the organisation.
Of course we all know of documentaries where things haven’t quite worked out. They should not stop us from getting involved; these stories should just make us all ensure we have put all the appropriate safeguards in place. If we do that then people will tune in and join the discussion.