in West Essex

Police Ride Along - What goes down?

Sarah spent yesterday afternoon/evening out on patrol in the Braintree area. After a rocky start it all seemed to go rather smoothly. Here's what she had to say.

"When I saw the Ride-Along initiative back in October I thought, 'hey, wouldn't this be a great opportunity to see first hand what people with mental ill health are treated like and how much impact it had on policing'

After completing all the checks, I got a date, 6th March 2pm at Braintree police station. I turned up at the station promptly, keen to see what the day in the life of a police officer entailed.

After 50 minutes waiting I started to become somewhat deflated, this is not quite how I imagined it to pan out. Finally, after around an hour of killing time I was taken through to sign my life away, haha, not quite that bad. 

I had a brief chat with the sergeant there who went on to explain that two of the new officers on shift had to sit with a patient who wanted to voluntarily be admitted for mental health issues, this had been handed over from the previous shift, 2 officers tasked before the afternoon begins. 

He went on to say that one officer was on desk duty due to medical exemption, two were on a call and the next two coming in a 5pm would be dealing with a prisoner. So, that left one officer and me. 

Safety first, no blues and two's are allowed when a civillian is onboard, much to my disappointment. However, we had some enquiries to follow up so made our way out and about. After a couple of welfare checks we headed back to file the paperwork. 

Barely did the tea touch my lips did we get a shout to do some door to door as the clock was against us with someone in custody due to be released. Success, would you believe, we have a witness and half an hour to get the statement back to the station in time. 

In the meantime another call comes in, concern for welfare, oh and did I mention the 999 call about the missing son, who isn't really missing, but the caller has dementia? Anyway, this welfare call, looks like a potential suicide attempt is looming. The double from earlier quickly finish up their paperwork before heading off to deal with that. 

The good news is, the Essex Police Triage service looks to be a potentially permenant aspect to the service. The sad news is, I was there for 6 hours and could see how many people are in crisis and need support, early intervention is so key, and maybe I was just lucky but I got an officer who cared and who didn't judge. 

I explained to the officer only 25% of people who complete suicide have accessed support, that leaves 75% do not.

I would say the experience didn't teach me anything new in terms of what the officers have to contend with but it did seem clear to me the impact of cuts to the force and it reaffirms to me that the police do want to keep people safe and can only do that with the resources they are afforded."

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