To Protect and to Serve

by Rachel Coo

Police time is critical. It is something that shouldn’t ever be wasted or taken for granted. But frustratingly, this is the case. Too much of the police time is taken up and wasted by the public, whether it be deliberately or not, it’s happening; and you need to be aware.

As a police call taker, the amount of calls that they receive that are of no relevance to the police is astounding. So many of them are just utter nonsense, that leave you baffled as to what on Earth went through the callers mind to come to the decision that they needed to ring the emergency services (I can’t stress the emergency part enough). To shed some light, here’s a small handful of some of the ridiculous calls the police have had to deal with:

  • Someone rang to complain about a cow mooing too loudly

  • A spider in their room

  • A problem with the sprinkles on their ice cream

  • Given the wrong type of burger at a fast food restaurant

  • And actually quite shockingly, a man rang the police to complain about a prostitutes looks.

Now, although these few examples may seem quite comical, we need to be able to realise how serious an effect these calls can have. Because for every call like these that a police call handler is stuck on, there’s another call waiting that might desperately need the police. Someone who’s just been robbed, a victim of sexual assault, a victim of domestic abuse or violence, somebody with a weapon, a traffic accident. And so much more. But because of calls from perhaps uninformed people, calls of genuine urgency have to wait.

When it comes to police time being wasted, some of the main causes are drunk people, lonely people, and those with mental health. I believe the police shouldn’t have to deal with and clean up your drunken mistakes – but it has become part of their responsibility, their cars aren’t taxi cabs, and their cells aren’t hotel rooms to sober up in overnight; don’t you agree? Maybe we should be more responsible with how much we drink considering what sort of state some people get in; but that’s a whole other topic. To put it simply, be responsible, know your limits and look out for each other. Why don’t we do ourselves and the police a favour?

Today, I think that the police force is severely underappreciated for everything that they do. Too many people don’t give them the respect that they deserve for the role they play in society. It isn’t easy. They are constantly faced with all sorts of threats, and too often those threats can somewhat become a reality; in 2016/17 there was an estimated 24,000 assaults on officers across all forces with almost 9,000 resulting in injury. Frankly, I think it’s disgusting. I think it’s disgusting that almost every single police officer has been assaulted at least once whilst on the job.

But it isn’t just physical, the verbal abuse they receive is on another level. And it doesn’t just happen to the officers that are out patrolling on the streets and in cars etc., call handlers often face such abuse; which can make their job unnecessarily much more difficult. It is a lack of respect. A lack of understanding into what they do. Into the hard work they put in often under pressure. Using what resources and capability that they have to try do their very best at their job. At stopping and preventing crime to keep our communities functioning and safe for us.

Please take the time to visit the official police website and have a read of the ‘Contact the police’ section, to remind yourself and others of when it is appropriate to call 999 or 101.

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