Growing our partnership with the police

Lancashire County Ecumenical Officer, Rev Anton Muller, reports on how churches are cementing relationships with the police in the county.

For the first time, the head of the Lancashire Constabulary has met with an inclusive group of church leaders, Ecumenical Officers and a host of Churches Together in Lancashire’s Network Partners.

The Chief Constable, Chris Rowley, spoke of his own connections with church (Catholic) over the years and spoke of his deep desire to build a strong relationship with the churches and other faith groups across the County.

First and foremost, Chris recognises that he is in the business of fighting crime whilst fully recognising the vulnerability and many social issues facing our communities. So much so, that 80% of all calls to Lancashire Police relate to vulnerable people. The primary issues are domestic violence, drug addiction, mental health, exploitation, and abuse. Chris said:

“If all I had to deal with was crime, I wouldn’t need extra funding. So much of our work is relating to issues of social deprivation and need”.

And so, Chris’ question was: “How can we work together within your communities so that my people can signpost to your people?”

He identified a growing area of need for those struggling with mental health. With so many people discharged into the community with minimal or no support, they may become distressed and unable to cope. Too many are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. There is a vital role here for churches, faith-based and other social prescribers in partnership with local policing.

Police Chaplaincy and the Christian Police Association

The Chief Constable also praised the work of the Christian Police Association (CPA). He said, “the support they give to the Force is phenomenal”. They have enabled a thousand Bibles (Gideon/Good News for Everyone) to be given out to a Force of 6,000.

Sgt Paul Pountain and Sgt Tim Fryer head up the work of the Christian Police Association in Lancashire. The CPA exists to be a voice for Christians in policing and to communicate in words and action the truth, message and hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to colleagues and the communities we serve. CPA is a Body in Association with CTE.

Steve Cowles spoke of the work of Police Chaplains and chaplaincy volunteers across Lancashire. They offer personal, emotional and spiritual support through simple acts of kindness. A popular initiative is “Cakes for Cops” at Christmas time, whilst in the summer a family day for police at Capernwray in North Lancashire attracted over a thousand police families!

The Revd Daleen Ten Cate, DEO for the URC NW Synod writes: “In our ministry with refugees and asylum seekers we work very closely with the police regarding the mental health issues, human trafficking, radicalisation etc. However, the day opened my eyes to the work of CPA and the chaplaincy team and how local churches can support them in practical ways such as cake baking, prayer, denotations and by creating places of belonging for people who suffer from mental health problems.”

As our churches across the County seek to grow closer together in mission and ministry, this relationship with the Lancashire Constabulary is a fantastic opportunity to serve and witness together and to support our police service and our communities.

Explore the guide “Faith Communities Guide to Engaging with Police.