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More Police needed !!

November 9, 2005 6:00 PM
David Goodall at 3am after an eventful evening shift with the local police

David Goodall at 3am after an eventful evening shift with the local police

It's all very well politicians saying they know what is best to help the police do their job. The only real way is to talk to police officers and to go out on the streets with them. So that is what I did last Friday 4th November as I joined Green shift for their 4pm to 2am shift as an observer.

The dedicated and very professional shift of officers worked hard all evening and into the earlier hours going from one incident to the next, yet still at midnight there were 18 reports that they had not managed to deal with. Fortunately none of them were life threatening and the police control room had managed to get the priorities right.

The police shift started with a briefing by the shift Sergeant Tim Boennic during which the officers were :-

  • assigned their patrols for the evening,
  • notified of any particular individuals to look out for
  • notified of any particular events that are happening in the area, in this case a Radio One DJ and popstar Will Young at Bitterne Park Secondary school and a large public firework display at St Monica Infant School.
  • and finally reminded about the dreaded paperwork that needs to be done

I went with the area car team to see what they did, and they did a lot. Between the start of the shift and midnight the area car did the following:

  • An area search following the report of a street fight involving 3 or 4 people near Bitterne shopping centre. A number of people were stopped and questioned about the incident.
  • After this a report came in about an attack on a pensioner in Weston, so we rushed from Bitterne to Weston at 5pm. The pensioner had bravely fought off the youth, however he did sustain a thick lip and a bump on the head. The youth who attacked him could not be found. He had been hit by the pensioner's shopping bag, maybe the tin of soup in the bag was too much.
  • Next came a report of a domestic incident were the woman was under attack, so we raced to Townhill Park area to calm down the situation down.
  • The next call was to a traffic accident in Peartree Avenue, where a car had hit a van. The car driver was clearly at fault, not only had he been drinking, but the van was also parked at the side of the road at the time. Also forget your stereotypes here, the van driver was young person who had parked his van up for a couple of days so he didn't drink & drive and the car driver was a middle aged dog-loving gent who was over the limit at 7pm in the evening.
  • After the traffic accident had been cleared up the next task was to head off to St Monica Infant School to track down a report of free burgers for the police. Unfortunately the burgers had all gone and a scooterist had been knocked off his scooter by a passing car, so the area police car had to go to the scène to manage the traffic.
  • The next incident was also a case of bad driving. This time a car hit a house in Merryoak, both the house occupants and car driver escaped serious injury. The same could not be said for the car, the fence or the house. We searched the area for the car driver who had run off and was probably 'joyriding' round the estate just a bit too fast.
  • Then a call came to go to Bridge Road in Woolston, where a supermarket had been broken into. A large search of the area caught one lad under age running around with several bottles of whiskey and vodka from the shop.
  • After this it was straight off to the Station pub in Bullar Road, after reports of a fight in the street between a group from the pub and a gang of younger people. Again the area car searched the area and this time found one lad walking away for the pub carrying a large 'house for sale' stake and with a cut hand.
  • Towards midnight a neighbour dispute in Merryoak had to be calmed down before the shouting match turned into a fight.

In between the above incidents, if there was anytime at all, the area car officers tried to deal with any ongoing investigations and keep their eye out for drivers driving too fast, driving without a seat belt, driving with mobile phones or parked dangerously.

At midnight it was back to the police station and time for a well-earned 'lunch break' with one half of the shift. The problem was, between ordering the kebab and chips and getting it, a call came in and some officers attended the incident. They got their reheated kebab and chips later.

Damage after a fight in Townhill Park

Damage after a fight in Townhill Park

After lunch break and sometime on paperwork it was back on patrol at 1am, this time in the CCTV van. Almost immediately the call came to go an incident involving a stabbing and a very young child. Fortunately the truth was not as dramatic, no one was stabbed, the child was safely placed with a neighbour by its mother, while the police sorted out the details of the fight between this mum's brother and her partner.

Finally, at quarter to two, it was back to the station for the end of the shift, but then this:

  • A serious dispute between neighbours in Townhill Park had spilled over into a larger scale fight, with injuries to people, damage to cars, fences and some other property in the area. The result was one seriously injured person taken to hospital and one person arrested, as well as about 20 people questioned as to there involvement in the incident. The skill and swift action of the police here prevented a fight involving metal bars, wooden stakes and knifes developing to a point where someone could have been killed.

At 3 am we went back to the station for the end of the shift for most and the start of the paperwork for some. A standard 10-hour shift had turned into an 11-hour plus shift. The overtime budget for the week had been blown in one single evening, but the thin blue line had held.

The problem is the thin blue line is very thin.

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