A Day In The Life – Parading at Walsall Police Station, Wednesday March 16th 2011, Tour of Duty – 22:00 to 07:00
The final shift of our six day set, the last night is usually the one that everyone looks forward to on the grounds that come seven in the morning, we’ve been working suitably hard over the past week to earn ourselves firstly some sleep and then after that a few rest days to recover before starting all over again. I arrive at the station just after nine as I like to catch up on my emails before briefing, something I often do with liberal use of the ‘delete’ key as the majority of the messages that find their way to my in-box are inevitably junk. Come ten o’clock the rest of the shift will have drifted into the station and we all gather in the parade room where we are brought up to speed about the latest intelligence concerning our area e.g. who is about to be released from prison, where we’re having issues with certain crimes and what are taskings are to be for the shift.
Fully briefed, me and my partner grab a set of car keys, pick up our kit and head right out the door. We start off with a drive around the town center and stop to speak to a male wearing a rather fetching silver tracksuit who comes up to the car and sings a little Robbie Williams to us before stumbling off into the night. An interesting way to start the shift! We then continue our patrols, focusing on the areas where it is likely that people will congregate before heading down the Wednesbury Road and over into Caldmore.
We’ve been out for about thirty minutes before we receive our first call across the radio – CCTV operators have spotted someone attempting to break into a disused transformer station and we’re asked to make the area along with several other units. As the incident is believed to happening there and then, we’re required to make the location as quickly as possible so on go the sirens and lights, my colleague puts his foot down and we accelerate past the usual speed limit and skip across Walsall in no time at all. Other cars have made the location before us and it is apparent that whilst an attempt has been made to gain entry, the offenders have been unsuccessful and so one car stops to investigate whilst we conduct a search around the vicinity in an attempt to locate any suspicious looking suspects.
Unfortunately the surrounding streets are empty and with only a vague description given there’s not a great deal more we can do so we resume patrol, this time floating over towards Brownhills and Rushall. The night was fairly cold with a combination of mist and rain keeping people indoors meaning and so there was not a great deal to see. We know where we’re likely to encounter problems with anti-social behaviour, traffic offences and the like so when we’ve not been deployed to an incident we’ll proactively focus on these areas, often finding something that requires our attention.
For a while our radios are relatively calm and so we continue our patrols heading through the industrial parks around Bloxwich and Bentley. We then hear another unit being dispatched to answer a call from a male who has dialed 999, apparently drunk, to angrily complain about his neighbours and that he can no longer stand living next to them. As the male has threatened a, how can I say, less than amicable solution to his issues we volunteer to back the other unit up and again pounce on the accelerator and make the location. Joining another two officers there, we speak to the male in his flat and try to calm him down. He is irate and very drunk and so we have our work cut out for us convincing him that we’re able to help him if only he will engage with us. Unfortunately after many attempts to reason the decision is made that considering his violent temper he’d be best spending a night at the station so is arrested by the other unit and brought to Bloxwich Police Station where he is bedded down for the night.
We’re more than half way through the shift by this point and so swing by Tesco to pick up a few chocolate treats before returning to the station to eat said treats. I’ve gone for Minstrels and have eaten about two of them before a call comes in to say that a homeowner has just disturbed some people in his back garden. We shoot out the station and I do my best to polish off the Minstrels as I’m being thrown about in the car on the way to the location. We’re one of the last units there but join a very impressive turnout of at least three others cars including one from the traffic department. Descriptions of the suspects aren’t great but we conduct a search of the area before returning to join colleagues at the house who are taking details from the occupant. We think it possible that the offenders may have been after the car keys to the vehicles parked on the drive, showing how important it is not to leave such items on display.
By this point we’ve entered the slowest part of the night shift during which calls tend to dry up with even the most hardened criminals deciding to catch some sleep. It’s usually at this point that I get a bit envious of them as without being occupied, tiredness can begin to catch up. Luckily we’re called back to the station to speak to our supervision who have a task for us. As part of an investigation conducted by another department an offender has been identified and we’ve been asked to go and make an arrest. The offence is serious enough to justify an early morning wake up call courtesy of West Midlands Police so having reviewed the case we take a short drive to the person’s address and deploy a knock loud enough to find its way through even the deepest of sleep.
The door opens and standing in the hallway is our man so we explain to him and his family what is about to happen and then sit him down in the living room whilst we conduct a search to identify any items that may be evidence relating to the alleged offence. There are several things that we need to seize so we gather them up and then head over to Bloxwich again where we book our prisoner on in the custody suite and sit him down in a cell until the relevant department are ready to deal with him. It’s then back to Walsall to book the seized items onto our property computer, complete the evidence labels and deposit everything into the evidence locker. This is a fairly long process and takes us past our scheduled finishing time and into a grey area in which the night has caught up and probably even overtaken us meaning we have to take care with what we’re doing with it becoming harder and harder to concentrate.
Thankfully as we’re working together it doesn’t take too long to complete our task and we hand the paperwork over to those dealing with the matter before finally finishing, putting our radios onto charge and hanging up our kit ready for another shift. It’s not been the busiest of nights but the two arrests made it feel fairly productive and certainly gave us the right to a nice long sleep when we finally got home.