A POLICE officer could swap Hampshire for Harlem after being short-listed for a prestigious award.
PC Mark Walsh is in line for a Travelling Fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.
About 100 fellowships are offered annually to British people from all walks of life to enable them to widen their experience and benefit others in the UK.
Dad-of-two PC Walsh, who works with young offenders for Hampshire police, hopes to visit Harlem in the USA to learn more about how police work with young offenders there in the hope of building on some of their successes in the UK.
If he is awarded a fellowship, PC Walsh could spend up to eight weeks there doing research and getting hands-on experience.
He said: ‘If you are successful you become a Winston Churchill Fellow for life and they take an active interest in your career development and report on your work.
‘It’s open to everybody from all walks of life. It’s a great opportunity.’
The trust was set up after Winston Churchill’s death. Thousands of people have donated to set up a living memorial and inspire future generations.
PC Walsh hopes to do just that. He added: ‘When I worked on Portsmouth’s City Centre Unit I would say 90 per cent of my contact with young people was negative. What opened my eyes was our Policing Through The Ages event at Gunwharf Quays. As part of their reparation young people helped me with a charity stand. Just from a two-hour contact they saw me as more than a police officer.
‘There was a girl who had assaulted police. Two weeks later I saw her. She was being rowdy with friends outside the Cascades shopping centre. Someone had called the police.
‘I was deployed to move them on – I got the usual verbal abuse. I was on my own. Before I could even respond that young person turned round and said “he’s alright. I know this copper, he’s only doing his job”. She moved them on for me and said sorry for causing problems.
‘I’ve seen situations like that where kids are arrested, but this meant I was clear to respond to a missing person.’
A trust spokesman said: ‘The trust’s objective for the Travelling Fellowships is to provide opportunities for British citizens to go abroad on a worthwhile enterprise of their own choosing, with the aim of enriching their lives by their wider experience – through the knowledge, understanding, and/or skills they gain – and, on their return, enhancing the life of their community by example and the dissemination of the benefit of their travels.’