By PCSO Hannah Shepherd
I’ve been working as a Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) coming up for nearly 10 years now. As with any job, there are some good, some bad and some ugly parts to it.
However, I think it’s fair to say that overall I love my job and I’ve been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to tailor my role to specifically dealing with mental health and housing issues.
As well as mental health and housing, I do still deal with the everyday parts of my role, such as dealing with incidents, attending community events, crime prevention, and parking, to name a few.
Parking has been, and always will be, important to members of the public. At the Neighbourhood Forums, which are held in order for members of the public to voice their concerns, parking and speeding are always guaranteed to be top of the agenda.
The police recognise the power of social media such as Twitter and Facebook and we also have our own email alert system, called eCops. I would say a good percentage of the messages received through all of these channels are regarding parking issues.
Not so long ago, I received a message from a distressed and frustrated parent living near to a primary school in St Ives.
The lady detailed that she had a son with autism and a four month-old daughter. The lady asked whether there was anything that I could assist with, with regards to parking issues; specifically around school dropping off and picking up times, as she is currently trying to teach her son about road safety, but this was proving difficult largely due to the inconsiderate and illegal parking of other parents in a rush to get their children to school.
The following week I attended the location and could see a few vehicles parked inconsiderately. One stood out however, as it was a parked right on a junction.
I could see a male hurriedly getting his child out of the car, I approached him with a smile and greeted him with a “good morning sir”, but I could see from the look on his face that this wasn’t going to be simple!
I was met with a very aggressive “what?!”: his face pensive and agitated by my presence. I politely informed him that he would have to move his vehicle and the reasons why. I asked if he could just move it a little further back, so that it was 10 metres away from the junction.
The male gave me a tirade of verbal abuse, which was also in front of his son who I suspect was no older than six or seven. It included the comment: “Haven’t you got anything better to do like catching criminals?”
In all the time the male was arguing with me, he could have taken my words of advice and moved his vehicle to a legal and safe position as well as getting his child to school on time! Instead because of his behaviour his child was late for lessons and he talked himself into a £30 fine.
I’m a big promoter of the saying “behaviour breeds behaviour”, but in this instance behaviour didn’t breed behaviour, I was courteous, polite and respectful. This was a perfect example of a parent not allowing enough time in the morning to leave and not taking into account they would have to find a suitable and safe parking space.
I was there trying to help a distressed and frustrated mother who was trying to teach her child about the do and don’ts of crossing a road safely and not to run between parked cars.
I will, within reason, take some verbal abuse – it’s sad to say, but I expect a bit of it – but I did not deserve to be repeatedly sworn at for trying to do my job and trying to help not only a mother of children attending this primary school, but also the school which this man’s child attends.
I’m sure I/police would be the first to be scrutinised in the event of his son having been the victim of a road traffic collision; possibly contributed to by parents parking inconsiderately and illegally – and nothing was done about it.
Our roles have evolved so much from when I first started. Police have been forced to create specialised roles due to increasing workloads and changes and needs within society.
It is not often therefore that we are given the opportunities to do the basics of policing such as school parking patrols, so it would be nice to be allowed to conduct my duties without being abused by the very people I am trying to protect.