How Hammersmith and Fulham Law Enforcement Team are taking a new approach to community engagement
Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s Law Enforcement Team are a diverse team of officers operating across the borough to keep the area safe, tidy and to essentially be the face of the council in the community. This new service, created in April 2021, is at an exciting juncture of defining what the service is and what the team means to the local communities they serve. Their daily patrols of each ward mean they have unique reach across the entire borough, so how can this team make the most of this opportunity? They want to engage meaningfully with residents and build trust so that residents will look to the LET for support and be willing to share local knowledge to help them in their role.
In early 2022, we began working with the LET to help them do just that. We identified some exciting opportunities to maximise the role that they play in supporting and engaging with the community. We worked with the team to rethink their role in the community and co-created some different approaches for promoting greater engagement with residents.
We developed a bespoke community engagement training programme that was tailored to the experiences and challenges of the everyday role for these officers. The training focused on building officer skills and having opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and role play to embed the learnings in the reality of their role. Officers put these skills into practice in their daily role and could immediately see the impact:
A couple of weeks ago I put this into practice and as result the Council received a very complimentary email from a resident and when I look back on it, I know this good practice I implemented was from the training with yourselves, so thank you. - LET Officer
Further opportunities to practice this more informal engagement came via community engagement events that we ran in parks across the borough, as well as at a local mosque. The objective was to try and reach a wide variety of different residents, using two different engagement methods - one off engagement in parks and repeated engagement at a faith space to see if deeper relationships could be built with repeated engagement.
These events gave LET officers the opportunity to connect with residents across the borough to introduce themselves and the service in an informal way, whilst also providing an opportunity for the LET to collect feedback from residents regarding challenges in the local area.
The events reached approximately 550 residents overall.
With positive feedback from both officers and residents on the experience:
“This is such a great opportunity to actually be able to use the community engagement skills that we have learnt. I’m loving just being able to chat in a different way, I’m often so focused on the enforcement side of my job” (LET Officer)
“Events like this in the park help you to know that someone is taking care and looking out for us” (Hammersmith & Fulham resident)
Some of the positive impact of the work:
We were delighted to find that this informal approach to engagement has had a positive impact for both the council LET and the residents they serve - these softer approaches to engagement help to build greater comfort amongst staff and stronger relationships with residents.
For example, officers who completed both parts of the community engagement training reported significantly better outcomes than those who did not:
Greater comfort engaging with residents
Greater comfort sharing with colleagues
Greater sense of safety in their role overall
And attending these community engagement events increased residents’ willingness to engage with and report to the LET. Based on their experience at these events:
75% would be likely to chat with the LET on the street
77% would be likely to report an issue to the LET
74% would be likely to encourage their neighbour to contact the LET
And this intention is translating into actual engagement by supporting the upward trend in reporting to the council following the events with highest ever levels of reporting across the trial period.
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