Phil made a difference…Could you?
Our colleague PC Phil Hanham is due to retire on 31 March after 30 years of service at Thames Valley Police.
When Phil began his policing career, joining Thames Valley Police in 1993, with his first posting being to Aylesbury, little did he know what was ahead and what could be achieved.
It’s not just the breadth of experience that Phil has determinedly committed to over the years that has made his contribution stand out, but Phil’s character and care for the public and policing family. Phil’s support to victims and families over the years, and to various teams in force when dealing with the coordinating of arrangements following the death of officers and staff has been invaluable due to the pride and respect with which he holds for others’ experience and contribution.
Phil, you have had such a varied and long career at TVP; how did it all start?
In 1992 I was in working in the print industry and with the introduction on desk-top publishing the print industry took a dive. I was 28 years old with a very young family, so I looked for a career that was both challenging and with job security. In April 1992 Thames Valley Police was recruiting for Police Constables (PC), and to my surprise, after an entrance exam at Headquarters and a three-day assessment at Sulhamstead, I was selected, with a start date of 29 March 1993.
How do you feel policing has changed over the past 30 years?
I have seen a great change in the police over 30 years in processes, uniform and equipment. When I joined you would share a radio (you were only issued with an aerial), no mobile phones. I wore blue shirt and tie and still issued a tunic along with a “woolly-pully”. The cars were Ford Escorts with the most basic equipment and no sirens.
The files submitted were paper files and witness statements all handwritten. All crimes were recorded on a form CID1 with deployments/incidents managed on Command and Control.
Although much has changed as technology moved forward, basic policing principles remain the same. Officers continue to provide a service to our public, reassuring victims and locking up criminals.
You have had challenges throughout your career – what made you overcome them?
All police officers are met with challenges throughout our careers. Our training as police officers prepares us to overcome these obstacles met in our daily duties. I have personally overcome many issues of various natures during my service. The want to provide the best service to our “customers” has led to me applying for courses such as that as becoming a Family Liaison Officer (FLO).This was before FLO was a thing on Roads Policing (Traffic as it was then). The police gives good grounding for finding solutions to problems rather than letting issues become a “problem” to you.
During your career you made some important contributions to our force and have been particularly instrumental in police memorials, acting as a FLO, a FLA and writing and preparing courses for FLOs – tell us about them.
In 1999 I was one of only two FLOs from “Traffic” to attend a formal FLO course. I was then able to promote this role and worked to expand the FLO team. I then became a Family Liaison Advisor (FLA) in 2000. Over many years I have provided support to many families of officers whose lives were lost on the roads either on off duty. In that role I have assisted in the arrangements of many “police “funerals and assisted in writing a staff death/funeral policy to formalise the support offered to police families.
I have both presented and supported FLO courses in and out of force and presented at national conferences. I now have a working place on the Family Liaison National Executive Board.
You also set up and assisted in managing a road safety programme for young drivers/students (Safe Drive, Stay Alive) and 1,000s of students have attended the events over the years. Tell us a bit more about this.
In 2006 I was approached to assist in setting up a road safety program which became Safe Drive Stay Alive (SDSA). The first year we presented this live road show to students over one week reaching out to 6500 students.
In early 2007 I was fortunate enough to be able to spend time in the Seychelles setting up a SDSA for students there. We then provided staff and a support team for ten days when the SDSA went live on the main island.
I helped to run SDSA for 15 years with Hampshire coming on-board in the recent years. This road safety show now reaches more than 20,000 students each November.
Your 30-year policing career has been so varied…because?
As my thirty years’ service draws to a close I can look back over my career with pride. Whilst I remained as a Police Constable I have taken all opportunities, when they presented themselves, to improve both myself and the way that Thames Valley Police approaches supporting families of victims. I experienced being a detective for 18 months and was present when the “Traffic Department” became “Roads Policing” supporting the new working methods as the department moved forward.
I qualified as a Senior Investigating Officer and have lead multiple investigations into deaths on the roads with successful prosecutions.
I have worked very closely with my five Chief Constables over the 30 years providing advice in the support of families and other memorial events.
So what are your reflections and plans for the future?
I now reflect back over my career knowing that I have made the very best of everything that I became involved with. I could not have achieved what I have without the support of my colleagues who both support and have supported so many events that I have been involved in, from school visits to Police Funerals, some with national interest.
As PC Phil Hanham my Police Warrant will expire on the 31 March 2023. I will look forward to a break and will see what the future brings for Mr Hanham.
What advice would you have for anybody who is considering a career within Thames Valley Police?
For anyone considering joining the police today, take it as it is today and not as was in yester-years. So many officers, when I joined, were saying “it’s nothing like it was when I joined” I would say that it is a good thing. Thames Valley Police is a forward thinking force and embraces change. Joining as a police officer or direct entry Detective you are joining a career with so much potential. Whilst my career has predominantly been on Roads Policing I have been fortunate enough to work with and experience other excellent specialisms within the force. These specialist departments in themselves will provide many opportunities and a varied and most interesting career should you wish to join the police family.
Thames Valley Police (TVP) is actively looking for people to be the difference they want to see in their communities. To find out more about a policing career with TVP – including the realities of working on response, initial training, and to apply to become a Police Officer please visit our Police Officer page