Category Archives: Police officers

Supporting victims of hurricane Irma

PC Den Williams from Ely and PC Ross Beesley from Wisbech have just returned from the British Virgin Islands following the catastrophic damage caused by hurricane Irma feeling humbled by the three week experience…

“The world watched as hurricane Irma took hold of the Caribbean and travelled across the North Atlantic killing more than 120 people with winds of up to 185mph at the end of August.

News bulletins and social media sites were awash with images and videos showing the pure devastation hurricane Irma had left behind but nothing could prepare us for what we were about to witness.

We volunteered, along with more than 50 other officers from across the country, to offer mutual aid in the British Virgin Islands and flew out from RAF Brize Norton to Barbados on 9 September.

Words cannot describe the devastation. We saw it on the TV before we left but you are detached from the pictures and videos. It’s not until you are there that you can smell the sewage in the street, you avoid puddles not knowing if the power cable lying in it is live or not.

We saw 40ft containers that had been thrown around, homes without roofs and what was an island full of lush greenery turned into something like what you would see in a Hollywood movie.

Yet the people were still upbeat. Despite losing everything themselves they were committed to helping others. There was one woman in particular, Janet, who left her own teenage children to come to the aid of those in a children’s home.

With around 40 per cent of the islands police force unable to work because of the devastation caused to their own lives, the majority of our time was spent at banks to stop looting and robberies or at supermarkets and fuel stations to prevent panic buying.

The moment we landed and our presence was known, we were starting to make a difference. We were able to take some control and allow everyone to get on with try to rebuild what they had lost.

It wasn’t long after we arrived that we were put under a 24 hour curfew as hurricane Maria struck the islands.

Our efforts soon turned to offering reassurance to members of the public, giving people lifts from hospital and interacting with the families and children.

We were so touched by the community they were working with that we got in touch with the Police Federation and the Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, and were able to secure a donation to purchase books, toys, pens and pencils for the children.

The best part of the trip was seeing the small difference we were making. Seeing the children’s faces when you presented them with small gifts, playing ball with them. You couldn’t put a price on it.

Being in 40C heat, wearing full body armour and not being able to wash above the neck because of the E.coli in the water was a low. We were living without the basics but we had a roof over our heads, were fed and watered which is more than most had out there.

One of the things we will take away from the experience was a line from a gentleman who had lost his home, his belongings, everything. He said; ‘I’ve got life and as long as I have that, I can rebuild everything else’.”

We can all play a part in protecting children from child abuse

It’s a sad fact that at Cambridgeshire Constabulary we have investigated 625 cases of child abuse across the county between January 1 and November 30 this year.

Protecting children from harm , keeping them safe and investigating child abuse crimes in all forms is and will always be a priority for us.

We have a dedicated team called the Child Abuse Investigation and Safeguarding Unit (CAISU) who take a child-centred approach to ensure the welfare and well-being of the child is core to every investigation.

We also work closely with our partner agencies in social care, education and health to manage the safety of children and investigate criminal offences.

Child abuse comes in various forms and can affect anyone. The consequences can be life-changing for the victim and those around them.

Here’s a bit more information about the four main types; emotional abuse, neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse.

Emotional abuse is the second most common reason for children needing protection from abuse but one of perhaps the least spoken about. It’s psychological abuse which can damage a child’s emotional health and well-being. Deliberately trying to scare or humiliate a child or isolating or ignoring them is an example.

Signs to look out for in a child’s behaviour include being overly affectionate towards strangers, lacking confidence or being aggressive or nasty to other children.

Others might struggle to control their emotions, seem isolated from their parents or carers, lack social skills or have few friends.

Neglect is the most common form of child abuse and can have a debilitating and long-lasting effect on a child’s physical well-being and on their mental, emotional and behavioural development.

It’s defined as not meeting a child’s basic needs including adequate healthcare, supervision, clothing, nutrition, housing as well as their physical, emotional, social, educational and safety needs. It can be anything from leave a child at home alone to the very worst case where a child dies from malnutrition.

Multiple or persistent signs of poor appearance and hygiene, health and development problems and housing a family issues could indicate a serious problem.

Physical abuse is when someone deliberately hurts a child. Children who are physically abused suffer violence such as being hit, kicked, poisoned, burned, slapped or have objects thrown at them.

All children have bumps, scrapes and falls but if a child often has injuries, there seems to be a pattern, or the explanation doesn’t match the injury then it needs to be investigated.

If you think a child is in danger, call police straight away on 999.

Sexual abuse is when a child or young person is forced or enticed to take part in sexual activities. It’s important to know that it doesn’t have to be physical, it can happen online.

One in 20 children in the UK have been sexually abused and more than 90 per cent of children sexually abused knew their offender.

Children might stay away from certain people or seem frightened if they are being sexually abused. They may also show sexual behaviour that’s inappropriate for their age and have physical symptoms.

You have a key role to playpcso-no-words

It’s often difficult for children and young people to tell someone about their abuse, particularly if they are being manipulated by their abuser or if they don’t think they’ll be believed. They might show it in other behavioural ways.

Each and every one of us can help prevent further abuse of an individual by reporting child abuse.

Sharing your concerns doesn’t mean a child will be automatically taken into care. Your concerns will be carefully listened to, information gathered and then an assessment of the immediate risk will be carried out to decide the appropriate action.

You don’t have to be absolutely certain about your suspicions. If you feel something isn’t right you can talk to us on 101, the NSPCC, Childline or your local authority. If you feel a child’s life is in immediate danger please call 999 straight away.

“I was very confused. I thought it was normal because I was ‘bad’.”

This is the true story of Kirsty who suffered emotional, physical, neglect and sexual abuse at the hands of her parents.

“My mother told me that she had a difficult birth with me, that I was a noisy baby and that she was going to have a large family until she had me. From when I was really young I thought that I was bad and that she hated me.

“On a daily basis, she would shout at me, swear at me and call me names. She would hit me hard around my head. I was beaten with shoes, wooden spoons, hairbrushes and knitting needles.

“As I grew older things got worse. I tried everything I could think of to try to get my mother to like me and become ‘good’. I cleaned and cooked to the best of my ability but she always found faults. She said I was ‘stupid, useless and bad’ and everything that went wrong was my fault.

“My dad showed his love to me since I was born but he started to sexually abuse me when I was five. To start with he said it was a game, then that he did it because he loved me so much. I started to block it out while it was happening but it was painful. He also hit me and hit my mother when they were arguing about me.

“When I was eight I started to get suicidal feelings and I attempted to kill myself. I was scared and on edge every day around my mother. When I was 10-years-old she started to starve me as a punishment I had to steal food to survive.  I started to get really confused. I thought my father loved me but he was going along with my mother starving me and hitting me. I was also confused to have a boyfriend who loved me but never hurt me.

“At 14 I just couldn’t take anymore. I had known about Childline for a while and suddenly something just snapped and I decided to call them. I went to a phone box and made the call for help. At first I couldn’t speak and I hung up. I did this for about two months and each time the counsellor would tell me that it was ok for me not to talk and that they would be there for me when I was ready to talk. This really helped and eventually I built up the confidence to just say hello and answer yes or no to questions. They were very patient and stuck by me until I could have a proper conversation when I was 15. Even then I wouldn’t give my real name as I was scared.

“I was also very confused as I thought it was all normal because I was ‘bad’. I started to speak to Childline regularly and they told me that what happened to me didn’t happen to every child and that it was not my fault. It took me a while to open up to them but I am glad they didn’t push me. They were so patient.

“I started refusing to do what my mother wanted me to do. This made her mad though so I began running away. I was abusing alcohol and substances, self-harming regularly and made several suicide attempts but every time I called Childline and they sent an ambulance and saved my life.

“I was referred to Social Services but they asked me about the abuse in front of my parents and that made things worse. After that I denied anything happened as I was too scared to say anything else.

“At 16 a social worker took me to a psychiatric adolescent unit. I thought I had help and was safe but I was made to go home every weekend and the abuse continued. I started to run away on Fridays or attempted to kill myself. I repeatedly screamed, sobbed and smashed up my bedroom in the unit. I self-harmed several times a day. Eventually, after four months, they stopped sending me home. In the end I ran away to a different city so I could be as far away from my parents as possible.

“During all of this time I kept phoning Childline and I carried on calling them until I was 18. They made me realise that I had the right to be safe and concentrated on making me feel that way. Knowing I could talk to them when I needed to was a real comfort. I often hated myself and wanted to die but they saved my life so many times. I would encourage any young person who needs help to contact Childline as they will help you through whatever you are experiencing. I am now fundraising for Childline to try to raise money to give something back and help other children get the help I was given.”

Kirsty

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this blog contact Childline for help and support, free on 0800 1111 or get in touch online

Even if you’re not certain but suspect a child is being abused, please report it. If someone’s life is in immediate danger, always call 999, or if there’s no immediate danger but you need to speak to the police, call 101.

Alternatively, contact the NSPCC anonymously by calling the free 24/7 helpline on 0808 800 5000 online or text 88858.

Take a walk in the shoes of DS Dave Savill

I’ve been a police officer for 13 years now working in response, neighbourhood policing and CID. I recently moved to the Rape Investigation Team which forms part of the Public Protection Department.

We investigate current and historical reports of serious sexual offences and my team is responsible for the safeguarding of victims, collecting forensic evidence and the interview and prosecution of offenders. We work closely with partner agencies including the Crown Prosecution Service, The Independent Sexual Violence Advisors (ISVA) and charities, such as Women’s Aid.

I thoroughly enjoy my role which gives me the opportunity to work with a fantastic team of people. Everyone has a real focus on supporting people through a traumatic and difficult experience and this is achieved by placing the person involved at the heart of the investigation. By working with partner agencies, we are able to support those who are the victim of a serious sexual offence. This, combined with the experience and a determination to bring offenders to justice, makes for an excellent working environment.

Here’s an insight into my day…

It’s 6.10am and time to leave the house to catch the bus to work. I use this hour to check my emails so I can catch up on anything that’s happened over night and tidy my inbox ready for the day ahead. I discover that we’ve detained someone for the offence of rape overnight and sift through other emails relating to ongoing cases and staffing matters.

I arrive at the office at about 7.15am and I’m informed that a second offender has been arrested for a pre-recorded crime, also for the offence of rape. The next hour is spent reviewing both incidents to identify outstanding tasks and setting action plans for the day.

My officers arrive for the start of their shift at 8am and we hold a morning briefing to determine plans for the day and allocation of tasks. The two prisoners are allocated to officers and separate briefings are conducted with them.

It’s 10am already and time to meet my manager to review ongoing crimes to ensure enquiries are being progressed as quickly as possible. This involves reading each crime held by the team, summarising completed work and identifying further lines of enquiry.

Lunch! Time for a quick bite while I continue reviewing crimes.

I check in with the officer dealing with the pre-recorded offence of rape at about 1pm. Safeguarding measures need to be put in place for the vulnerable victim as a result. The officer dealing with it is waiting for a solicitor and appropriate adult to be present before interviews can begin.

My other officer completes the interview for the first rape. We have a discussion around the content of the suspect interview and identify any outstanding enquiries. The suspect is bailed for six weeks to allow for the completion of these enquiries.

At 2pm I liaise with the National Crime Agency regarding the arrest of a suspect for a stranger rape offence.

I hold a one-to-one with a member of my team to discuss current workload pressures at 3pm and set objectives for the following year before meeting a fellow DS to discuss crime allocation policy within the team at Cambridge.

It’s 5pm and I begin reviewing a case in order to get some advice from the Crown Prosecution Service. Shortly after, 6pm arrives and I’m officially off duty. Time to get the bus home and have a final check of emails and catch up on outstanding tasks.

7pm Home. Goodnight!

Take a walk in the shoes of Traffic Sergeant Simon Goldsmith

I am an operational Road Policing Unit (RPU) Sergeant, working for the collaborated Joint Protective Services (JPS) Road Policing Unit at Force Headquarters, Huntingdon. I am one of three Sergeants who cover Beds, Cambs and Herts from the three bases (Hatfield, Kempston and Huntingdon).

My role is to supervise RPU officers across the tri-force area and attend any fatal or serious injury collision as the Senior Investigating Officer, any major road related incident that may shut an arterial route and provide pursuit tactical advice for the force control room. I regularly cover/ travel into Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire to support and can drive upwards of 200 miles a day.

At Cambridgeshire we provide three double crewed cars for the A1(M), A14 and M11.

At 6.30am I hold a briefing to take any handovers from the night shift. I appoint a family liaison officer (FLO) for a fatal road traffic collision (RTC) in Peterborough the day before and liaise with the investigating sergeant as to what my team can do to help the investigation.

The briefing stops at 6.40am so I can deploy the A14 car to a three vehicle collision. I may be needed so I am listening to the Cambridge radio channel. At the same time, there is a five vehicle collision on the M1 in Beds that I need to consider deploying my M11 car to so we can support our colleagues in Kempston. I have to listen to three radio channels now – Cambridge, Peterborough and Tri-force.

I hold a conference call with the Beds and Herts team at 7.30am to cover staff shortages and ensure all areas have an RPU response. My A1(M) car is re-deployed to provide North Beds cover.

Each morning we hold a daily management meeting at 8.30am where details of yesterday’s fatals are discussed and FLO deployments arranged and any support required for statements etc. with the Forensic Collision Investigation Unit (FCIU).

At 9am I attend an appointment with the Road Victim Trust at Kempston to discuss better ways of working in partnership.

I return to Cambs HQ about 11am and I’m shortly deployed to an incident on the A1(M) where a large goods vehicle is driving dangerously. I have 35 miles to cover to get to the scene as I am the closest unit available. This takes me 20 minutes through traffic and results in a no trace for the vehicle. The incident takes me 40 minutes to conclude.

Meanwhile I’m asked to give tactical advice to a pursuit in Luton in a busy city area. I now need to listen to Luton radio whilst still monitoring both Cambs channels. By the time I get familiarised with the pursuit, the vehicle is lost. This takes up 30 minutes.

It’s gone 12pm when I return to HQ. I have to arrange an FLO professional development day so I spend my time booking rooms and speakers. I liaise with the Herts resource management unit (RMU) to put staff on the course for their development.

The late turn shift begin arriving about 2pm but an incident has occurred on the M11 requiring a lane one closure due to a heavy goods vehicle (HGV) breaking down at a critical point. I have a crew available but they are at another incident so I juggle staff to accommodate. This takes a good 10 minutes to deploy.

Staff Personal Development Reviews still need completing (I still need to supervise PDRs and performance manage the team). Fortunately, I have completed half of them but still need to complete the rest.

I then receive a complaint from a member of the public who feels aggrieved by being issued a S59 warning for driving in an anti-social manner. It takes me a good 25 minutes to reassure the complainant that I will deal with the complaint, but there’s some resistance when I tell him that I won’t be removing the S59 warning.

It’s 4pm and almost time to go off duty. I ensure that all my team are accounted for, handovers are mentioned to the late turn Sergeant and that any final admin tasks are completed.

 

Take a walk in the shoes of PC Cairns-Johnstone

I’ve been a PC for just over two years now. I’m based at Parkside Police Station covering Cambridge City. I’m a Safer Neighbourhood Team Officer (commonly referred to as a ‘Response Officer’.

My role involves responding to 999 calls and 101 calls to service as well as conducting general patrol duties. The work I do is very varied and can see me responding to large fights or assisting the Ambulance Service to gain access to a property.

I arrive at the station at 6.30am ready to start my shift eight hour shift at 7am. I get kitted up, sign out a bodycam and get the keys to the vehicle I will use for the shift.

The shift starts with our daily briefing where we review crimes that have been raised over the last 24 hours, review domestic violence incidents so we know who is vulnerable in the city, review recent intelligence submissions so we know what is going on and can conduct targeted patrols between incidents as well as find out other information or incidents we need to be aware of. It also lets the Sergeant allocate us to specific incidents or task such as scene guards, constant observations on high risk prisoners or prisoner escorts to hospital.

Thankfully there are no scenes on in the city and no-one at hospital or requiring constant observations in the cell block.

After briefing I kit up my vehicle – I am in the cell van today – and prepare to be deployed to whatever incident comes in. I begin a statement I need to do from my previous shift however about 30 minutes into the shift information is received by the control room that a possible ‘morning after’ drink driver will be leaving an area of the city to drive home over the next couple of hours. I make my way to the area and subtly park up (or as subtle as you can be when you are in a blue and yellow van).

I complete some admin and paperwork on my tablet computer as I wait for sight of the vehicle.

About an hour elapses and I get sight of the vehicle. A stop is put in and the driver is spoken to. He blows 0 and passed the roadside breath test. If the driver was lucky this day or if it was a malicious report made we will never know – either way we will always do what we can to act on information we receive to prove or negate what is reported.

After the vehicle stop I return to the station – my van is due a weekly task. All police vehicles get ‘tasked’ on the weekend early shifts. A ‘vehicle tasking’ involves checking the vehicles lights, fluid levels (oil/washer fluid/coolant) are correct, tyre pressures are in order and the tyre tread is sufficient and the tyres are not worn or damaged. The vehicles are also washed and cleaned inside and out and all out kit its checked to ensure a) that the kit is there and b) the kit is serviceable and ready for use.

vehicle taskings.jpgAll our patrol vehicles are kitted with traffic cones, signs, shovel and brush for RTCs/road closures, a ‘stinger’, a short shield (mini-riot shield) for officer safety, first aid kit, cordon tape, evidence bags, a rescue rope as well a roadside breathalyser and general paperwork amongst other bits and pieces.

Vehicle taskings are very important as our patrol vehicles are used pretty much 24/7 between all the shifts and are driven to emergency calls so it is crucial they are serviceable and safe to drive.

As I complete my vehicle tasking, the control room requests for an officer to attend Addenbrooke’s Hospital where a woman wanted for failing to attend court is about to be released. I shout up on the radio to go to the job and attend with another officer.

The woman had drug and alcohol problems – she had been admitted to hospital after inadvertently taking an overdose of medication to help her sleep. She knew she had a warrant out for her arrest and wanted to get it sorted. She explained she missed her court date because she had to travel to the Midlands to attend court.

The woman had some previous convictions of violence towards others and police however she was sober and compliant. I suspect she may not have been as compliant should she had been drunk.

A short drive later and we arrive at Parkside custody suite.

We have to wait in the holding area for a while whilst the custody staff process other detainees. While we are waiting we start to chat about general things including what police stations we have worked at or in her case, been detained at. The woman discloses issues in her life and her struggles with drugs, namely heroin, and alcohol. She admits her problem. She had been ‘clean’ from heroin for a number of months but admits she relapsed on a few occasions and how it affects her mental health. We talk about the movie ‘Trainspotting’ and how realistic it was to her problem with heroin.

I deal with heroin and other drug users on a regular basis in the city – this can be through possession of illegal drugs, getting involved in acquisitive crime to fuel their habit or coming across them in very vulnerable positions in their lives such as rough sleeping.

It was very humbling to have someone who I have never met before be so open and candid about her issues and problems. Despite her previous convictions and what she was wanted for it is hard to not feel a degree of sympathy and empathy for her position when you look at what has gone on in her life before she ever became known to police.

I booked her into custody and after the process take her to her cell. I wish her all the best with her future and close her door. I genuinely hope she can get over her problems and addictions.

I grab some food and complete my arrest statement. It is now lunchtime – custody can be a very lengthy process when the cells are busy.

Back in the office I notice we have a guest in one of the side rooms…..Dog

This little pup was found by a colleague who was on her way into work. The dog was found running in the middle of Barnwell Road and almost got hit by a number of different cars. My colleague stopped and picked the dog up and got her microchip scanned to find and locate the dog’s owner. The little dog stayed with my colleague while she did case files until the pup was reunited with its owners.

Not long after I sit down a call comes in via CCTV Control about a drunk man who has been causing problems in the city centre. The man is then reported to have assaulted a security guard and while CCTV monitor him he is reported to have stolen food from a shop.

My colleague is dispatched on his own and two PCSOs offer to assist.

The man is known to us and has previously been violent when he has been drunk – only two days before he was arrested after punching and spitting at colleagues and being racially abusive to another security guard.

I leave my statement and leave my lunch as my colleague’s and public safety is paramount. Other officers start to make their way to the area to offer support.

I arrived on scene just after my colleague – we attempt to engage with the man however he becomes agitated and aggressive and gives off warning signals he is about to fight with us. He ignores repeated instructions to stop moving towards us and he is restrained and arrested after shouting and swearing in front of members of the public and young children.

He is handcuffed and then threatens to hit me. The best thing about bodycam is that it not only shows the whole incident but it captures his level of drunkenness and disorderly behaviour.

Being threatened at work is unfortunately not uncommon.

Information is then received confirming a theft and assault has occurred – the man is further arrested.

The man is taken into custody and booked in. A handover package is required for the offender as I can’t deal with him when he is drunk and he won’t be sober until the evening at the earliest.

Back at the station we find out the man is a suspect on yet another crime where he has been identified from CCTV by a local PCSO. I spend the next number of hours raising a handover for a colleague to deal with when the man is sober. The handover involves obtaining witness statements, writing our statements, converting our bodycam onto a disc and raising crime reports and collating all the other paperwork from the other crimes he is a suspect in. My colleague helps me raise paperwork for the file – it’s always a team effort.

At 5.55pm I complete a detailed handover and submit it to the oncoming shift Sergeants. I finally book off duty with PC Williams who had stayed on to help me – three hours after I was due to finish.

Working for Cambridgeshire police

Detective Sergeant 1860 Amerjit Singh

I have been a serving police officer for Cambridgeshire Constabulary for almost 11 years. I was one of the first members of the Sikh faith to join the Constabulary, in its long and proud history. I worked for 3 years as a serving Police Constable in uniform duties, then joined CID thereafter in 2006. I have served as a Detective Constable in many CID departments and then got promoted to Detective Sergeant in 2009. I have been a serving DS for almost 6 years, supervising many departments such as Divisional Crime Teams, Serious Crime teams, Specialist Investigation Unit & Rape Investigation Team. I have so far found my career richly rewarding and varied in types of criminality that I have investigated. I am now looking at promotion to Detective Inspector.

I am currently the supervisor of the Public Protection Unit. This involves managing and leading a team which manage registered sex offenders and dangerous offenders. We manage the risk that these individuals pose to the community and do everything in our power to prevent re-offending. This involves visiting them on a regular basis, identifying risk factors and attending any partnership meetings linked to the risk of these individuals. It is primarily a safeguarding role, however we also actively investigate and prosecute any criminal offences involving our nominal as well as breaches of notification orders/court orders. This is a fast paced and dynamic role, where I make decisions around how individuals are managed, what actions are taken against persons who breach orders and lead the team on investigations, providing guidance and support.

I love my current role as it is challenging and makes me proud. The decisions and actions I take, can have massive implications for others. I am of a firm belief that the work my team and I undertake makes a difference in protecting the public.

I would encourage anyone to join the police. I find it motivates me to work hard working alongside dedicated and enthusiastic colleagues and it encourages me and others to support the community which we live in. The roles within the police service are diverse and engaging. Your career path is for you to define. We make a real difference to people’s lives. My faith teaches me to help others and that’s exactly what I am doing.