PC James Maskrey is part of a revolution in policing.

He is working at the coalface on the City of Manchester South Division.

Recently, he stopped youths throwing bricks at a block flats housing vulnerable people.

He secured the empty building from where they were getting their missiles.

He also re-housed a woman in her 90s who was living in a home without a proper kitchen, central heating or a bed.

She had been reduced to burning sticks she found on the ground to warm her home.

PC Maskrey first visited the woman in December and realised her plight was an emergency.

James Maskrey serving as a Marine reservist

He spoke with a senior manager in the local housing group and secured a fully refurbished ground floor flat on the same street.

"When I called to check on the lady in her new home, I was worried when she didn't answer the door," PC Maskrey said.

"It turned out she was simply enjoying her best sleep in years."

He has also been posting on the division's social media page to bolster community spirit.

This is the classic neighbourhood policing which GMP needs to excel at if it is to climb out of special measures - and boost morale in a force which has been hammered by crises in recent years.

But PC Maskrey is no ordinary recruit.

Not long ago, he was running construction sites - managing 30 people, procuring contracts and overseeing major builds.

He has also been in the Royal Marine Reserve for the last 10 years.

He switched careers to join GMP full time via Police Now.

There is a misconception that Police Now exits just to steer bright graduates into the service - placing them in tough estates - as a fast track to a high rank.

That is only one part of its purpose.

PC James Maskrey on patrol for GMP

The hope is that by attracting people who wouldn't usually have thought about policing as a career, it will make the force more representative of the community it is meant to protect.

PC Maskrey said: "A diverse workforce in policing is something that benefits the community.

"That means being diverse not only in the sense of race, sex, gender, and religion, but also life experience."

The supply of Police Now resourced officers seems to be making an impact.

Get the latest updates from across Greater Manchester direct to your inbox with the free MEN newsletter

You can sign up very simply by following the instructions here

Communities nationwide where Police Now officers have been posted for the last 22-months have seen 38,772 fewer incidents of anti-social behaviour compared to the same time period from October 2016 – equivalent to a 14 per cent drop.

Officers on Police Now’s National Graduate Leadership Programme have been working alongside their colleagues within their local neighbourhood teams.

As well as the drop in anti-social behaviour, communities have also seen 14,301 fewer incidents of criminal damage and arson – a fall of 13pc.

There were 12,460 fewer incidents of burglary – a fall of 16pc– and 31,732 fewer incidents of theft, equivalent to a 14pc fall.

Police Now's mission is 'to transform communities by recruiting, developing and inspiring diverse leaders in policing'.

It believes intelligent graduates who also have the required people skills can be a valuable asset to forces.

Not all agree.

James Maskrey in hard hat when working as a construction manager

Former senior GMP officer Nick Adderley, now Chief Constable of Northamptonshire, said last month police recruits joining his force after university are not prepared to work nights or weekends and are 'sadly lacking' in life experience.

He said graduates won't commit to working unsociable hours and are unwilling to face the violence that the job entails.

Chief Con Adderley made the comments whilst voicing his 'strong feelings' against the College of Policing's plans to require all recruits to gain a degree before joining the force - rather than the traditional training programme.

Officers on Police Now’s programmes develop skills in leadership and problem-solving.

They 'share a commitment to public service, fighting crime and inspiring social change alongside their colleagues'.

Police Now has recruited a total of 1,830 officers across 33 forces in the UK, including GMP who have partnered with Police Now for the past four years., with 282 police constables and 31 detective constables joining GMP via this route.

It consistently recruits more officers who are women or from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds compared to any other entry route into policing.

Police Now recruitment data shows that of those starting the Police Now Programmes in Greater Manchester in 2019 and 2020, nearly a quarter (24 per cent) identified as coming from a black, Asian and minority ethnic background.

As of January 2021 the percentage of GMP's workforce that black, Asian, or minority background are: overall workforce (officers and staff), 8.2 per cent; police officers only, 9.1 per cent. There is also representation at every rank up to Chief Officer level.

Co-founder of Police Now and former Detective Chief Inspector David Spencer, said: “We’re incredibly proud of the positive impact our participants continue to have within their local communities, and their commitment to driving positive change with their colleagues so that everyone in our society, including the most vulnerable, have a chance to thrive”.