10 Jan, 2020
How CPD Can Help You With Victim Support & Training
Helping to rebuild the lives of those that have been victims of crime or traumatic incidents is a delicate and sensitive skill that is invaluable to both the casualty and subsequent police force. Arguably the most high-profile of all the UK’s public services, it was reported by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) that forces in England and Wales recorded over 31,671 complaints in 2017/18.
The complex cases and precarious situations that the police face on a daily basis should never be overlooked, but this does not prevent any serious errors or shortcomings being thrust into the media spotlight. This could relate to a wide range of factors including the mishandling of evidence, an unlawful breach of personal data or a failure to follow the standards of professional behaviour that apply to them.
It is imperative that police forces do everything within their power to get the public onside as they rely heavily on active public backing and cooperation. The majority of crimes are reported by members of the public and this enables the thin blue line to monitor crime trends and provide appropriate support to victims. If the public do not trust the police, they are unlikely to cooperate with the police by notifying them of crimes or aiding police investigations.
This is why all police officers and staff should have a clear plan around Continuing Professional Development (CPD) which focuses on maintaining and developing your knowledge, skills and behaviours throughout your career. Victim support professionals require superb communication and listening skills, as well as a non-judgmental approach and emotional awareness and understanding.
Families of victims, vulnerable witnesses and victims of sexual and domestic abuse, hate crime and restorative justice need to be reassured that their support officers have the necessary skill set to deliver their jobs to the best of their ability. CPD is centred on self-driven learning which links to an individual’s specific role and keeps them up to date with current practice and policies. This should be a variety of learning activities which could include attending conferences, work shadowing or secondments, networking with professionals from other forces and even transferring skills from experiences outside of your normal working environment.
Evidence gathered as part of the CPD process will enhance your credibility and can be used during professional development reviews. Police forces offer a wide scope for career progression and those that have created a structured learning framework to hone their development are more likely to be considered for senior roles and/or pay rises, where applicable.
The College of Policing has stated that “across the police service, there is an individual responsibility for undertaking CPD.” It does require comprehensive planning and thorough engagement, but it will ultimately prove to be of significant benefit to the professional, the police service and society. Reflecting on your CPD activities also plays an integral role in lifelong learning as it allows you to analyse what skills and knowledge you have acquired, and whether or not these improvements have proved useful when dealing with victims of crime.
CPD is important for victim support professionals to keep your skills up to date, as there are constant changes in areas such as questioning methods and personal safety. Any in-house training carried out by the force should be linked to the needs of victim support staff and to the development of policing as a profession through the sharing of good practice.
Updating your knowledge, skills and experience will prove to be invaluable as you respond to the changing demands of policing which will ultimately improve public trust and promote positive attitudes towards the police service.