How many of you like to be armchair detectives? You know, solving the case in NCIS, deciding whether someone is innocent or guilty in 24 Hours in Custody. Well, here in the U.K., there is a scheme run by some police forces where you can get much closer to the action and spend a shift with the police….and I did that last night. It’s actually left me buzzing and so I’m drafting this blog entry having just got home and now seeing the most beautiful sunrise.
Whilst I’m not allowed to share information about the people I saw, the places I went or the crimes being committed, there is so much to share about the actual experience of spending time with the police.
So, my experience started at 5pm where I was met by a police sergeant to go over some paperwork and then be introduced to the two officers that I would spend most of the next 11 hours with. I thought the scheme would involve me being mainly based at the police station and, if we went out, I would stay in the car when the officers went in to deal with the incident. However, wearing a high-viz jacket with ‘Observer’ written on the back, I was encouraged to always go with the officers which meant going into people’s homes, pubs, etc. and therefore I ended up right in the middle of the action…..VERY close up!
Over the course of the shift, there was incredible variety in the types of incidents being attended. The two officers I spent most time with weren’t able to set off the siren and have the blue lights flashing as they haven’t yet undergone the necessary driving course. However, I was so lucky to also go to a couple of calls with two other officers who’d had the training to drive at very fast speeds. The exhilaration of hurtling down the road with the blue lights illuminating the area in blue will never be forgotten. I was sitting in the back of a police car most of the time and I just had to make sure that I was holding on tight! I also ended up in the front passenger seat and at the front of a police van on various calls. One thing that really surprised me was the amount of paperwork and report writing that has to be done. Whilst technology can help the police to have more background information when they get called out, incident reports need to be written for everything they get called to and they may be in the middle of a report when the next call comes along. I think it’s quite a miracle if they manage to finish the shift at the expected time.
Whilst I signed paperwork about not disclosing information about incidents, all I will say is that the night shift was spent observing some extremely challenging cases but also ones that were really sad…including those that appeared to be the result of overstretched services.
The staff couldn’t have been nicer. They were really keen to find out about my motivation for doing the ‘Ride Along’ scheme, they were very happy to answer any questions I had and the camaraderie between the officers was fabulous to watch.
If only I was 20 years younger, I might be contemplating a career change. However, it did make me smile as I drove home that I was going down roads that I previously been along with the police so I just had to make sure that I was now doing the speed limit. Not as exciting! I’m definitely a girl who likes speed!
If you’re in the UK, I’d encourage you to see if your police force offers the ‘Ride Along’ scheme. If you’re in Sussex, here’s a link to the application form. https://www.sussex.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/st-s/stop-and-search/sus/ride-along-scheme-application/ And whilst I stayed to the end of the shift, they make it clear that you can leave whenever you want to so you don’t need to be an owl like me!
Feel free to tag or share this with anyone you think might be interested xx