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Hertfordshire Police Federation

Get to know your Federation reps: Melanie Cotte

16 March 2021

Trained in psychotherapy, Melanie Cotte is putting her skills to good use to support her colleagues as a Hertfordshire Police Federation workplace representative.

Melanie joined the Force in 1997 and has been a rep for the last two years.

And she says her own experiences as well as her psychotherapy training have been valuable for supporting her colleagues.

“I felt at that time I became a Fed rep I had the experience and skill to help others,” said Melanie, whose current role is with the domestic abuse investigation and safeguarding unit.

“I wanted to learn something new myself. I’m a workplace mediator, which means I help colleagues dealing with adversity in the workplace.

“I’m psychotherapy trained and have listening skills. I have investigated for six years, so confidentiality comes natural to me and I’m able to extract information in a professional manner. I have experienced my own traumas in life therefore have an empathic nature.”

Melanie’s priorities in her role are supporting officers; ensuring conduct matters are dealt with fairly and within the regulations; signposting officers to help and supporting operational officers with visits to operations.

And she aims to help more officers by extending the hours she works on Federation matters.

“I’m reasonably new in the role but have received no end of support from my rep colleagues,” she said, “I’m enjoying the role so far and hope to increase the number of hours I am contributing to it.

“I enjoy meeting different people and knowing when I walk away from someone in need I’ve made a difference to them in a positive way. Even if I have to deliver bad news to someone I’m confident I do it in the stress reducing way for them.”

Melanie’s first posting was to intervention at Hertford and her career highlights include joining the dog section in 2000.

“Domestic abuse is one of the hardest roles I have ever done but one of my favourites,” she said, “I enjoy investigating from start to finish and I work with an amazing team of people.”

Melanie has undergone training as a workplace mediator and a two-year psychotherapy course at Hertfordshire University.

“This course was a life-changer for me in learning behaviour patterns, not only in others but in me also,” she said, “As part of that course I worked with alcohol and drug users in Harlow and I was able to show tremendous empathy.”

Melanie said that a permanent female rep being available at all times “could benefit those who may feel better about sharing personal and at times private information”.

And she encouraged colleagues considering putting themselves forward to be a rep to do so.

“I would encourage anyone with a good length of service and experience to become a Fed rep,” she said, “It’s an opportunity to meet new people and work towards achieving a happy workforce.”

But it does bring its challenges.

“In every basket of apples there may be a bad one,” Melanie said, “I feel my five years on the integrated offender management team and six years working an investigative role has helped me determine if a person is in the wrong and whether a more robust and sometimes difficult decision is required.

“Some officers feel unsupported and showing the Federation in a positive light is imperative to officer wellbeing.”

She added: “There’s been a rise in the officers who are suffering with mental health and low morale. It will be challenging for the Federation to support more and more officers without growing in size itself.”

And Melanie said the coronavirus pandemic has also brought challenges to officers and staff.

“Getting through the pandemic has to be a priority as this has left departments short as others have had to shield,” she said, “This has put a tremendous amount of pressure on officers and staff alike.”

 

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