A COLCHESTER policeman who swapped working in counter-terrorism firearms for pounding the streets of the city says the best part of the job is feeling like you have “genuinely changed lives for the better.”

PC Connor Manning works for Colchester’s Local Policing Team (LPT) which is usually first on the scene to emergency calls.

PC Manning was a counter-terrorism firearms officer with the Ministry of Defence Police before joining the local policing team two years ago.

He spoke about his role for Response Policing Week.

He said: “[Response policing] is what I grew up believing the police do.

“It is protecting and helping people when they are often at their lowest points.

“It is being someone that people can turn to when they have nowhere else to go, and being able to help people when nobody else is able to.”

PC Manning said the most memorable incident he attended saw him arrest a man for committing grievous bodily harm against two women at the same address.

PC Manning, who has a degree in psychology and criminology, said: “I felt a real sense of achievement in being able to protect two victims and remove a dangerous offender from the streets.”

He said: “I’m a very active person, so I love anything that involves driving on blue lights and chasing after suspects on foot.

“Another highlight is a real sense of comradery with other officers on my shift, we all support one another at our highest and lowest points.

“I’d say the biggest highlight is when someone you’ve been able to help says ‘Thank you’, and you can feel you have genuinely changed their lives for the better.”

PC Manning admits the biggest challenge is “trying to help everybody who needs us.”

He added: “There are many things we do as response officers that the public do not get to see, which of course impacts our ability to attend every incident as quickly as we would like to.”

His top tips for anyone thinking of joining the force?

“It is a job like no other that offers something different every day. Be a people person, more than just a uniform,” he said.

“Try to connect with people and show empathy wherever possible, and remember that to us it is our job, but for people calling us in an emergency it is their lives.

“The most important skill is being able to talk to people.

“This covers 90 per cent of our job role, whether it be reassuring people, ascertaining details about events and offences, interviewing suspects, managing conflict, dealing with partner agencies, other emergency services and ensuring that people are properly safeguarded and protected.

“We police by consent, and this is only maintained with effective and transparent communication.”

Manning said in the future he would like to join Essex Police’s Operational Support Group, which is trained in public order, or the Raptor group which specialises in county lines drug gangs.