Hello! So for those who don't know, I'm a student officer with West Midlands. The people up high had decided that it was about time for our first taste of real policing so they booked us an attachment day with real officers doing real things. For my own entertainment as much as yours, I thought I'd make a little post about my first experiences.
Attachment to Neighbourhood Team
I arrive at the big city station and immediately find there are about 10 parking spaces to share between about 200 people. Therefore I spend the next 40 minutes panicked and trying to find a space in an area I am totally unfamiliar with whilst manoeuvring the car around alleyways I would pretty much struggle to walk through, never mind drive. There are three others from my class joining me on this attachment and between us we take a lucky pick of which door is the right entrance. We got it wrong. Eventually, however, we find some CS spray and someone arrives to pick us up.
We drive down to the local neighbourhood team's station, which was literally nothing more than a glorified portacabin. Introductions around all the team and they seem a really good bunch who know what they're doing and love doing it. I was amazed to see the various nominals posted around the room who were all so young! We are then briefed for the day. The plan was we would join a speed operation. Good timing, as just the week before we'd had a quick go with the speed laser in traffic training. PC Rain was on duty, but we decided to give it a go anyway.
Half an hour later, after the full briefing, set up and the monumental task of hunting for the right paperwork, we sit in the van ready to roll out the gate when there's a change of plan. Sergeant gets a call on his radio and we are reassigned. One of my colleagues goes on the speed op as planned, but with reduced numbers. The other two of my colleagues are going to help with executing a search warrant on a complicated alleged historical sex abuse case. Me and the guy looking after me were chosen to start work on a high risk missing person.
We go into the office to start our initial research of this missing person. After ten minutes of searching various systems and making loads of useful notes, we're told that actually we'd been given the wrong name. So we do it all again, this time for the correct missing person. I'd recently been trained in use of the missing person database we have, whereas my tutor hadn't, so I ended up teaching him a lot about that. Turns out our misper has a list of medical conditions as long as my arm. Armed with as much information as we could muster in the office, we set off.
First call is to check his home address. No reply from the door and so given his medical complications, we’re given authority to force entry Section 17 in order to see if he is inside. It was a small house, only three rooms and all of them pretty messy. He wasn’t in, but all of his medications were. Not good news.
Desperate to gain a lead, we start house to house enquiries nearby. I take one side of the road and my colleague takes the other. On the very first door I knock at, a lovely old lady answers the door and she makes no reaction or reply to what I’m saying to her. This gives me a bit of a funny feeling that something doesn’t seem quite right, and just then she drops to the floor like a bag of bricks. I’m slightly impressed I had the reaction quick enough to catch her just before she hits the floor and so my colleague joins me and we get her inside. We ask for an ambulance despite her protests. Long story short, this poor woman was feeling weak and frail and was on various medications which did not seem to have worked. We were also concerned that she was showing some initial signs of confusion onset, which the medics agreed with, so we did all the necessary bits and bobs for a referral to social services. Luckily she had an angel of a neighbour who could support her once she came back out of hospital.
Typical, I thought - first day out, first house I come to and something as unexpected as this happens. What an introduction to policing! Having got the lady wheeled off in the much more capable hands of the lovely paramedics, and then getting myself back to task, we continue house to house enquiries. Eventually a few people mention the same name and in the absence of many other leads, we decide to check it out. We hunt for the nearest working PC (which can be quite a battle!) and after running a few intelligence checks we find this name linked through an intelligence log to an address.
Excited by this new information, but also full of trepidation at the time elapsed and the medical condition of this person, we rally the troops and eagerly set off to search. I should point out that we were not quite blessed with an exact address, but rather the name of a tower block, which meant a hundred doors or so over six floors to start checking each and every one of them.
By some stroke of luck, the first few doors we try have apparently seen our person hanging around the staircases. One person reckon they know which flat precisely and they give us a number. The seven of us traipse up six flights of stairs and I find myself realising for the first time that with all this police kit on, it’s easily an extra couple of stone to my weight, and this would take some getting used to!
Of course, the flat in question is right on the top floor and the lifts are out of order so I’m ready for a short nap once we stumble up to the top floor. I was a little horrified to see the edges of the walkways, on which only a thin piece of wood around four feet high stood between us and a six storey drop. Envisioning some elaborate horrible scenario of an angry lunatic bursting out of a random flat and flinging us easily over the barrier, I was practically hugging the wall and sidestepping down to find the right door.
Eventually we get there and there’s a sense of nervous excitement in the air as we knock. We make repeated verbal appeals but to no success. Just as I’m about to resign myself, someone inside calls out. “Who is it?” “It’s the police, come to the door please. We’re worried about you, we’d like to speak to you.” Again, a few moments of nervous silence, ended by the relieving sound of the door being unlocked from within.
Our missing person opens the door and whilst being as discreet as possible, we all share sly celebrations with each other under our breath and a subtle pat on the back. With a little more talking, our missing person agrees to come down and be assessed by ambulance due to his various medical ailments and missed doctor’s appointments. (When the ambulance arrives it’s the same crew as earlier and they make cheeky comments about me being the bad luck charm!). A colleague of mine takes the chap to one side as we wait for the ambulance and carries out a full missing person debriefing session, which is vitally important to help us understand more about why this person went missing and how we can help them and others in the future.
The guy then goes along to hospital after precautionary advice from the paramedics. I glance at my watch and I’m disappointed to see it’s already time for my shift to end. We are driven back to our central station from where we make our own home. I spent the rest of the night buzzing. I accept that, especially to many of you more experienced officers, my day’s activities were not too exciting or ground-breaking and may even be seen by some as mundane and testing, but I really enjoyed it. The true cliché feeling of knowing you’ve helped someone, potentially saved lives today, and the first true feeling of how people deal with you in uniform – these are all emotions I think I could get used to.
Bring on day two.