Job title: Community protection officer.

Employer: Copeland Borough Council.

Age: 51.

Where are you from? Workington.

Where do you live now? Workington.

Where do you work? As a team of five, we have responsibility for the whole of Copeland, with its 77,000 residents. I am based in our Moresby offices, from where a colleague and I deal primarily with the north of the borough, from Rottington to Distington.

A second team of two covers the south Copeland area, though when required we work as a team of four. The fifth team member currently looks after off-street parking. Around 90 per cent of my time is spent out and about.

How long have you done this job? 14 years.

Take us through a typical day: My days are very varied but they usually start with a vehicle check – ensuring we have the equipment and paperwork for whatever we might be doing that day. I will check my messages for complaints and incidents reported to us for investigation. If any stray dogs have been taken to our out-of-hours kennels overnight, we would pick them up and take them to the council-authorised kennels until their owner is found. Then we’ll be out in the community, looking into fly-tips, littering, dog fouling, abandoned vehicles, anti-social behaviour and other issues. We also help other agencies like the police, for example if they are doing general checks on door staff or licences.

We do a lot of foot patrols – you learn things you can only learn by talking to people. Some people get to know and trust you, and can give you useful information about incidents and issues.

If we approach someone for littering, they can be issued with an £80 fine, given a warning or, potentially, they could end up in the magistrates’ court. Crucially this is not a decision we make on the spot. We take the person’s details then contact them with the decision. This means we have time to assess the information properly, and we also avoid potential confrontation.

We get lots of fly-tips reported. We look through the waste to see if there’s any evidence of where it came from. If there is, we will seize the evidence, put together a case file and speak to the person under caution, possibly leading to a fine.

If we are investigating reports of dog fouling it usually happens at particular times of day, so we aim to visit the spot at that time in order to gather evidence and speak to the person. This sometimes entails early starts or late finishes.

Some people aren’t aware we also deal with anti-social behaviour. This covers a lot of things from barking dogs to graffiti and damage.

In all situations, you have to be a good listener. I always let people have their full say first, so that they feel their side has been listened to.

We wear body cameras – I turn mine on when I approach someone. It deters people from acting aggressively and also makes sure that my own behaviour is captured on camera in case anything is called into question at a later stage. We do have zero tolerance to abuse and aggressive behaviour, and it will always be reported to the police. We are, after all, trying to keep our borough clean and safe for residents and visitors.

What do you like most about the job? I like being out and about – you meet different people and come up against different challenges every day. I am also interested in new legislation and putting it into action. I’m constantly looking to update my skills through training and research, because legislation around enforcement changes all the time.

Our ethos is to educate people and offer them advice. Prosecution is always a last resort. We want to change people’s behaviour, so sometimes we would rather give a warning if it means they have learned a lesson.

What do you like least? The weather can sometimes be a challenge – heavy rain or snow makes it difficult to put up our stickers or spray our anti dog fouling stencils on the footways. People still litter and dump rubbish in all weathers, so we are out there regardless, but I do generally prefer it when it’s dry.

Why did you want to do this job? I had always worked outside and I wanted to challenge myself with something new. I also want to make the area I work in a better and safer place to live.

What jobs have you done previously? I was a supervisor with a window-cleaning contractor and have worked as a door staff supervisor at pubs and clubs. I’ve always worked with members of the public.

What qualifications or experience do you need? You need to be able to stay calm even when others aren’t, and that comes with training and experience. You also need to be good at problem solving – for instance, if someone has been reported by a neighbour for putting their bins in the wrong place, it’s better to help find an alternative way of storing them, than to simply punish the person – that wouldn’t solve the problem. Obviously it’s good to have some life experience and be good at communicating with the public. In practical terms you would have to have a driving licence.

What is the typical salary for this job? At Copeland the pay range is £21,074-£23,866.

Any advice for people wanting to get into your profession? Talk to us if you see us out on the job - we’d be happy to answer any questions. And just be approachable and willing to be part of a team.