Working with migrants suits Pc down to a T
TWO months into his task of building bridges between police and migrant workers, Pc Stuart Norman s work is slowly beginning to reap rewards. His work has seen him build working relationships between workers, factory managers and partner agencies, and he
TWO months into his task of building bridges between police and migrant workers, Pc Stuart Norman's work is slowly beginning to reap rewards.
His work has seen him build working relationships between workers, factory managers and partner agencies, and he holds police surgeries at the factories and a number of community activities in Wisbech.
But Pc Norman does not look like your everyday police officer. He wears a red T-shirt, jeans and white trainers.
This, he believes, helps his work with communities from Eastern Europe who may have had different experiences of police forces.
"I visit the factories so the workers, the majority of whom are not English, can raise any concerns they have," he said.
"These concerns may involve being a victim of crime, or they may want to raise issues around their housing, health needs such as needing to find a dentist, or money issues.
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"These are not all issues that police alone can deal with so that's where partner agencies come in. I feed any concerns back to the relevant agency so hopefully a solution can be found."
Pc Norman's visits are regularly advertised in factory newsletters, on electronic notice boards and, most importantly, by word of mouth.
"Managers at the factories know who the English speakers on the factory floor are and they use them to help translate," he said. "It is these people that make sure other workers are aware of when I am visiting.
"Very often if someone doesn't want to report an incident to me personally, or can't speak English well enough, they will pass their concerns on through their manager, or a friend who can translate.
"The arrangement is working very well."
Another element of Pc Norman's role is holding activities at key focal points in the community where migrant workers congregate. Internet cafes and learning centres are two examples of where this has taken place.
Police Community Support Officers now hold weekly surgeries, and a police presence has been introduced at churches where migrant workers can also report issues and further build relationships.
"We purposefully took a gentle approach with this engagement so we didn't frighten people away and they got used to our presence gradually. Again, this has been well received," said Pc Norman, who has also carried out research with letting agents to find out where migrants are living in Wisbech, so he can engage with them and help to solve and prevent crime.
"Every engagement activity is open to anybody from the community," he added. "If anyone comes to us with information about a crime, or a problem, we will do anything we can to help and it is this confidence we are trying to install. This is their chance to use their voice and get issues sorted out.
"There are tensions between different communities but it is hoped that by offering opportunities for everyone to voice their concerns and to be heard, everyone can live without fear and with the confidence that we are there to help.