In what was one of the most emotional starts to an APComm Conference the focus was very much on engagement with victims and also with communities.
It was the first time that APComm has welcomed the Victims Commissioner Baroness Helen Newlove and she gave an emotional account of the loss of her husband Gary. The Baroness explained that the important aspect was emotion and not policy, something that all police communicators need to remember.
She was followed by Greater Manchester Police Senior Press Officer Lyndsey Dudley who explained to a silent audience all the work that was done to support the families who lost loved ones at the Arena attack six months ago. From both presentations the key was about authenticity, honesty and fairness in providing support.
Earlier, the conference had covered similar issues with a discussion about the national digital engagement strategy with national NPCC lead for Digital Engagement and Deputy Chief Constable of Surrey Police Gavin Stephens. The interactive session discussed training, operational use of digital channels and evaluation.
The role of social media, the media and fake news were all touched upon by Chief Constable Gareth Morgan the Chair of the NPCC Comms Advisory Group in his opening address and by Lincolnshire Chief Constable Bill Skelly in his welcome to the Force area.
This has been a challenging year for policing and police communication was a message from the outgoing Chair of APComm Amanda Coleman, Head of Communication for Greater Manchester Police. But she added police communicators should be proud of what they do as there is a great story to tell.
The first day of the APComm conference was testament to the knowledge, experience and creativity that exists in police communication.