Grade One emergency robbery in progress. We ran to the car and with blue lights flashing we sped off to catch the villain in the act.
Sorry to disappoint you, but my experience with the Hampshire Police Response and Patrol Team was nothing like what we see on television, where months of filming is used for a one-hour programme.
The officers I was with informed me that they had very rarely used their batons and instead rely on aggression avoidanceJohn Perry
My night shift started at Waterlooville Police Station at 4pm on a Saturday.
I was given the opportunity to go out with the Waterlooville Response and Patrol Team, which is assigned tasks by the Netley Control Centre, which tracks the location of all response cars in the county through GPS.
The police are organised into four functional commands – neighbourhoods and prevention, response and patrol, investigations and, finally, tasking and co-ordination.
Following police budget cuts, Hampshire Constabulary has had to reorganise.
Instead of Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham and Gosport areas having their own geographically responsible teams, the force decided to reorganise to make the provision of services more scalable and so grouped officers into functional responsibilities, each of which are now managed on a county basis.
Having received my introduction, I attended the pre-shift briefing where we were informed of the current local issues and priorities.
I was assigned to a response unit with PC Stu Grover and PC Ben Bowles.
The first task was locating a car in connection with drug-related activity.
We had been given the make and colour and a clue of its location. We were unable to locate the vehicle but it was found by another team later in the evening.
In any case, the response car patrolled known trouble areas, which made the police’s presence known and that in itself was of value.
A 999 call given the highest priority is assigned a Grade One. As our car was flagged as available and nearest to the location, we were assigned the task.
We ran to the car and, with the blue lights flashing, arrived on the scene some two to three minutes later.
The ‘robber’ was outside the premises and what was a potentially dangerous situation turned out to be quite the opposite as the ‘robber’ was someone who had been out drinking – a lot.
He thought he had arrived home and entered an unlocked front door to the surprise of the resident.
The officers were firm and fair with the individual, who was given advice and after a formal search and some banter he was left to find his way home. The house owner didn’t wish to pursue the matter further.
Our third task was an attempted arrest.
Earlier in the evening two individuals were needed for questioning, and during house visits I noted the skill of the officers in gaining additional intelligence while at the same time showing compassion to the circumstances of one resident.
The outcome was that the missing individuals should now soon be found.
Following that, we were called to reports of harassment and death threats from person A to person B.
But on visiting person B, an incoming telephone call established person A and person B were potentially both victims and offenders.
The complication in this case was person B needed medication.
They were very distressed, but police officers at both A and B’s houses reached an agreed consensus with all parties not to take any action other than to stop communicating with each other.
This was the second incidence of a display of compassion by the Response Team.
They reassured person B they would not leave until they felt safe and they were satisfied with the outcome.
After the last mentally exhausting call, and with no Grade One emergencies needing our immediate attention, we returned to a nearby police station for a break.
Later, the owner of a take-away reported racial abuse.
This time we went out in a police van as there was potentially more than one offender.
Quick thinking by the officers led to us stopping by a group of young people eating food that may have come from the takeaway.
One of the group gave the officers a good description of the potential offenders and expressed shock at the racial nature of the comments that had been made.
After a thorough search of the neighbourhood, the individuals were located but in the event no arrest took place.
The owner of the take-away wanted the individuals banned with no prosecution and this was the outcome.
It was getting close to 2am, so the team decided to drive around some of the known drug-dealing areas while keeping an eye out for anything unusual.
Just as we were returning to Waterlooville, a known individual was spotted who escaped through a maze of alleyways, footpaths and woods.
Despite a thorough search in the area, he was ‘the one that got away’.