Trainee City Police officer at SCT’s recovery hostel

“I’m not potting anything, but at least I’m hitting the balls today. I only learnt to play yesterday.”

When Katherine Crosskey enlisted for training as a City of London police officer, she didn’t expect pool skills to be on the syllabus. But at SCT’s recovery hostel, Acorn House, the pool table is a big draw for residents.

 “I’m not here to be a police officer,” Katherine explains as her opponent takes his shot. “I’m here to spend time with the men and hear their stories. The idea is to get a better understanding of their background.”

 “I’m here to spend time with the men and hear their stories. The idea is to get a better understanding of their background.”

This match is definitely a friendly, and the atmosphere in Acorn House is as relaxed as ever. Was there any tension when Katherine arrived in the dry hostel?

“I was a bit worried about being a police officer coming into the men’s home. Some of the guys have been on the streets a long time and had experiences with the law - Tim just had a court appearance today.” Katherine says of the resident she shared lunch with after the morning group therapy session. “Being a young woman, I thought it might be intimidating. But when I got here I was made to feel totally welcome. The guys are just like anyone else - I was amazed at how kind and caring they have been.”

In fact, the only division in this group is over whether the Bryan Adams track playing on the stereo is a classic or not.

Two of Katherine’s course mates are visiting other charities near Bishopsgate Police Station this week. They’ll report back to their fellow trainees and share the insights gained from spending time with different groups in their community. Katherine explains how the programme can help them on the beat.

“Now if I see someone who’s homeless or drunk on the street, I’ll be more understanding. I’ve got a better idea of how to deal with the situation. Instead of just trying to get them off the street, I’ll know that they can be referred to a place like this that can help them.”

“Now if I see someone who’s homeless or drunk on the street, I’ll be more understanding. I’ve got a better idea of how to deal with the situation. Instead of just trying to get them off the street, I’ll know that they can be referred to a place like this that can help them.”

Katherine was also getting to know Acorn House and how it runs. “This place seems unique – there are other places that do detox but I don’t know anywhere run as a dry hostel like this. It’s really inspiring how much is being done here on such a small budget.”

Nancy, the manager of Acorn House said: “We really welcome this kind of project and commend City Police on this initiative. It helps build a wider understanding of addiction within our local community as people can see for themselves that recovering addicts need lots of care and support, and to be treated with respect and dignity.”

“It’s all a matter of practice” consoles Terry as he makes sure Katherine finishes her game in second place. The City Police initiative seems to offer a win-win for members of our local community who, in another context, might find themselves in a clash of a different kind.

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