Harlow College becomes a ‘crime scene’


What do you get when you combine three different ‘crime scenes’, a handful of trainee police officers and a hoard of drama students?

‘Role-plays’ for public services students are the six year old brainchild of Paul Bird, Leader of Public Services at Harlow College. During these role-plays, drama students take on ‘criminal’ characters and create scenarios, which the public services students must diffuse and resolve.

Formerly a Detective Constable in the Essex Police Force, Paul took to teaching at Harlow College just two days after ending his 40-year career with the public services.

Referring to the role play exercises, Paul said, ‘That feeling in your stomach when you don’t know what’s behind the door, cannot be taught from a book.’ He went on to say, ‘This is confidence building in its simplest form.’

While these role-play exercises are essentially to assist in training future public service workers, it goes without saying that the drama students more than reap the benefits of these improvisation exercises.

Performing Arts students Leo and Emma (both aged 16) said they found the role-play, ‘exciting and intense,’ and that ‘once we got into character it was so much fun – but we did struggle to stay in character at times!’

Although many of the public services students aspire for careers with the Police, the course is perfect for anybody hoping for a career as a public servant. The skills are ‘transferrable’ and the course is ‘good for those who are unsure of what their aims are,’ Paul said.

College uses role play exercises to prepare public service students for the work place

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Rhiannon Gallery

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