After 20 years in police communication I am always drawn to any relevant news stories and was drawn into the #screensaver hashtag that I noticed this morning.
It relates to Derbyshire Police using images of murder victims as screensavers to remind officers about the importance of getting things right first time in challenging cases. Or that was what I gleaned from the media reporting of the action.
I totally understand the need to look at good practice and to continue improving and developing. However, the approach has been criticised with some police officers saying it was ‘bullying’ and insensitive.
My thoughts on reading this went to those who had been directly involved in the cases. And importantly to the families and friends of those who had lost their lives. How will they view this approach? How will officers who have had to confront terrible scenes respond to seeing the faces appear as they logged onto their computers?
I have worked with some amazing police officers who put themselves in danger, would do everything possible to find an offender and get a case to prosecution. I have sat with officers comforting grieving families and promising to find out who was responsible. I am sure they never forget any of those faces whether of family or their lost loved one.
For my part as a press officer I can still see the faces of those murder victims where I worked with detectives to appeal for information. These cases safe back to 1999 but still remembered.
Reading the #screensaver hashtag is a heartbreaking reminder of the horrors that officers face. Most officers I have worked with wanted to do the best for everyone they came into contact with. They may have struggled sometimes due to the pressures and demands of the job but they didn’t join to do a bad job.
I would like to think that there were other ways of raising awareness of these things that would have also recognised the amazing work that does take place.