Dr Richard Lewis, the Chief Constable of Dyfed Powys Police, recently spent an evening manning up a response team.
Whilst the lure and relative comfort and safety of an office can be all too appealing for some senior managers, CC Lewis decided to experience for himself the realities of front-line policing.
All-too-often, the mainstream media are quick to condemn response team officers for ‘taking too long’ to respond to emergency and non-emergency calls.
However, what the mainstream does not realise – and thus, by virtue of their work, the general public – is that, for most response team officers, the vast majority of their shift is spent looking after the vulnerable.
Post-Covid, the cost of living crisis is having the effect of adversely affecting the mental health of a significant number of people.
During his shift, CC Lewis saw this first hand for himself. In a Tweet, he said:
‘It’s been ages since I’ve driven a police van, so good to get out tonight.
‘Every call so far – and I mean *every* single call has been for a missing person, mental health crisis or concern for safety’.
‘Try putting those in a performance measure.
‘Great work by our awesome staff.’
The vast majority of the general public and mainstream do not realise that a high-risk missing person call can use more or less all of the available resources on a response team.
For example, when the high-risk MISPER call for a child comes in, every available response team officer and officers from other units will be deployed to try and find that child.
And, rightly so. But that does mean that other ‘routine’ calls will end up going to the back of the virtual queue.
Or what about the call regarding someone having a mental health crisis?
Much will depend on the situation, but, again, this sort of call can suck up a vast amount of the available resources.
And if, after several hours of negotiation, the individual having a mental health crisis is convinced not to harm themself, the police have a duty of care to ensure that the patient is taken to a ‘place of safety’.
And we haven’t even touched on the calls which result in a 12-hour hospital guard or a 12-hours ‘constant watch’ (the latter requires at least one officer to keep watch on a detained person whilst they are in custody so that they do not harm themselves).
If you want to understand the realities of policing in these current times, then maybe try to avoid the mainstream media as a source of fact-based information.
Instead, why not follow the hundreds of police accounts on social media that share the truth of modern-day policing?
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