This time last week I was flying home after having the privilege to visit Palestine on behalf of the European Commission to provide support to the Palestinian Civil Police (PCP) which is the local police force in Palestine including the troubled West Bank.
They are responsible for dealing with the routine police and community safety issues within one of the most challenging and complex political environments in the world.
The European Commission approached myself for support as part of the EU’s wider mission to build peace and support communities in the Middle East.
It was fantastic to be approached by the European Commission to provide an ‘Expert Mission’ to support the Palestinian Civil Police, but it was also a personal challenge to visit a location we only see in the news when something terrible has happened.
It took a few weeks to get all the permissions and risk assessments in place from UK police and all the relevant UK government departments, and it was only a couple of days before I flew out of Manchester Airport when the details where finally confirmed. It was only really on the Sunday morning whilst sitting at Manchester airport I realised what I had let myself in for.
The three-day workshop was held at the Palestinian Police Academy in Jericho. A relatively new building funded by the Governments of the EU. I had 14 senior officers who were all responsible for public relations, website and engagement for either the national service or each of the regional areas, what we would call divisions in the British police service.
I developed a set of course materials to achieve the objectives laid out by the European Commission and leadership of the PCP. The team the Eupol COPPS were also keen that I covered elements about the role of women in policing and channel shift. The aim being to professionalise skills and knowledge of public relations officers of the Palestinian Civil Police to improve the outreach and interaction via digital channels.
I saw the effort and enthusiasm of the Palestinian Police Officers who really want to make a difference to their communities. They had already some great practices in plan but during the first day I made sure I explained about some of the key elements of public relations theory to help build an understanding of how their actions are contributing to build more trust with their communities. I also ensured I covered in detail the importance of setting a SMART strategy and then developing a tactical plan that they could demonstrate with a range of data sets. Looking at measuring the outcomes of their action not just the outputs of their efforts.
I used the learning from my CIPR diploma and regularly referenced in the learning that underpins the work of professional public relations teams.
It’s certainly a very different and challenging place to work compared to Staffordshire but interestingly we share many of the same challenges such as cybercrime, road safety and the desire to work ever more closely with the communities we serve.
The Palestinian Police use Facebook to share their work, and have a great deal of engagement with the people they serve, Facebook is a critical part of daily live in Palestine and it connects families, communities, with those agencies working to help them. They have an active website to share news with the community and to receive a feedback.
Of course the language was a potential barrier, I worked with a team of translators to ensure all the delegates. It certainly took a great deal of concentration to remember where I was in by input when stopping after every sentence or phrase to allow the translators to work. It took a lot of effort and energy to keep the workshop flowing and maintain interest but the feedback from the officers was really positive.
It’s been a privilege to share some of my knowledge with them and I am sure they will be able to use it to help them in their daily work.
The activity was funded by the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument (TAIEX), which provides technical assistance to countries included in the European Neighbourhood Policy as well as candidate and potential candidate countries of the EU, and it was organized in cooperation with EUPOL COPPS an EU Police Mission that was established in 2006 to provide training and advise to the Palestinian police.
See the full article and more about EUPOL COPPS via http://eupolcopps.eu/en