On Friday I joined Cambridgeshire police – just for a night! The Southern division covers a huge rural area, from Littleport north of Ely to the borders of Bedfordshire, Essex and Suffolk. In my rural area people often complain that there are not enough police around and say they are all in the City centre, so I went to the City and joined the “Reactive Team” there as a civilian observer.
We started at 7pm and one of the 4 cars was immediately dispatched to help the rural team 20 miles away – blowing the myth that the police don’t come out of the City.
Over the next 8 hours we were always busy. My own team of two dealt with 5 anti social behaviour reports, stopped a street fight, and arrested one of the “most wanted” from the earlier mug shots. We went to track down a suicidal young girl and a possible domestic violence case. At 1am we dumped our hastily bought supper and blue lights flashing raced across town for another suspected robbery. This on what I was told was a “quiet” night…. I finally peeled off home to bed at 2.30am.
At the sharp end I saw that the police are working enormously hard, with great professionalism and in a huge variety of cases. From what I saw and heard I believe they are under resourced. It is (still) a small minority of people who cause most of the crime and its up to the rest of us to help the police by reporting what we see, taking care, and giving them our support.