The joy of police chaplaincy

09 March 2021

Being a chaplain is simply wonderful and amazing! I’m Michael and I’ve been a Police Chaplain with the Devon and Cornwall force since November 2018. I have been a Methodist Local Preacher for many years and have always had an inclination towards the pastoral as well as preaching. In the summer of 2018 my Methodist Superintendent Minister asked if anyone might be interested in becoming a chaplain to the Totnes station here in South Devon.

Initially I thought the post might be for a friend, but ‘heavenly HQ ‘ had other ideas and soon I was being interviewed by the Lead Chaplain and another chaplain. The rest as they say is history.

My normal routine is to make a weekly visit to Totnes and every 6 weeks to Dartmouth. This has created a sense of presence and as time has gone by it has created an expectation amongst the staff that he really cares and will turn up on a regular basis. Spontaneous and serendipitous conversations occur naturally and with increasing frequency. They arise generally, because I always take a tin of sweets with me to share, so even if someone declines, a conversation can still ensue. In this relaxed way I have come to know so many folks.

The 30 or so voluntary chaplains and full-time Lead Chaplain that make up the Devon & Cornwall police chaplaincy, with our great variety of Faiths, skills and life experience, are providing an on-going pastoral care, listening, and support service to staff and officers. While not in the role of professional trained counsellors, as chaplains we are always looking to understand even more the demanding nature of policing. Our learning and training in recent years has included Child Death, Custody, Domestic Abuse and Neuro-diversity plus providing support for Mock Terrorist exercises, County Shows and giving talks.

We endeavour to help officers and staff make local connections within their communities, sharing information about helpful resources and being available for critical incidents (everyone has access to our 24 hour a day contact details) as and when the need arises.

The really valuable thing is that although we are in the force we are not of it (we each have our own force number and uniform). Recognising the stressful and challenging nature of police work we are an independent and confidential resource that anyone can talk to about anything knowing that it will go no further unless they request it or there are safeguarding or life threatening issues or it is something of a criminal nature.

It’s an extraordinary role to be in and to undertake, especially since Covid-19 swept the country. The opportunity to support police officers, staff and their families is an amazing privilege through all the ups and downs and vagaries of their truly front-line jobs.

Michael Barrett Rogers