Arriving at Earlsfield police station at half nine I was greeted by a room-full of policemen and women. Although the shift officially begins at ten a clock first there is the Briefing to get through.
At the beginning of each shift the officers are taken through a PowerPoint presentation that flashes through all the faces of various wanted and missing persons. The duty inspector couples the various police officers present with a partner and then off we go for a much-needed cup of coffee before the madness begins.
“You can never predict what will happen on any shift. That’s why I got into this job!” One of the officers tells me.
I was to ride along with Andy and Dave in the fastest and newest response car, a nifty BMW dressed with the blue, yellow and orange colours of the Met Police and after introductions Dave checks all is in order with the car. No time for small talk as we already have a call to respond to. Lights, sirens and away we go. We zoom down various streets and arrive quickly at the destination.
Although it is only 10pm someone has attempted to break into a residential property with the residents inside. No one can be found in the area and we leave another team to patrol the perimeter as we have already been called to a second location. Next stop is a domestic disturbance, “the majority of calls we receive are of a domestic nature” Dave informs me as we pull up to an estate and make our way up. The dispute is of a verbal nature between a step-mother and her step-son. The two family members are split up into separate room and both questioned by different officers. They are both calmed down, statements taken and the step-don leaves to stay at a friend’s house for the night leaving his keys behind so as not to upset his mother again.
Next call is also a domestic disturbance where a mental patient is home on weekend release and has begun kicking off. The police, for previous offences, is already familiar with the address. The patient is known to be violent so on the advice of David and Andy I remain in the car until everything is dealt with and the mental health patient is sent back to hospital. We drive around for a few minutes before the next call comes in. An alarm has gone off at a supermarket in tooting. Sirens blaring and lights flashing we drive through traffic lights, other cars kindly getting out of the way as we meander between our lane and the lane with oncoming traffic in. It is a major high and I’m giggling in the background although both the officers seem to be immune to this. Apparently the novelty wares off fairly quickly!
We arrive at the supermarket, a small privately owned one, and get out of the car. We begin to look all around for possible means of entry and discover around the back of the warehouse building a wooden door that leads to residential back gardens. Andy is in front of me, and Dave behind me. Andy has his flashlight out and just as Dave is speaking into his radio that the area is secure and no help needed, Andy’s flashlight catches a glimpse of a white face. It’s a hooded figure. The dark silhouette bolts to make a run for it and Andy goes in pursuit. Dave and myself run out and around the corner to try and block his exit. The criminal is on top of a fence with Andy holding on to his foot. “Get down mate!” Andy is shouting and the response is a muffled “I don’t wanna go back to prison!”
Dave has called for back up and soon a variety of officers have turned up at the scene. The suspect jumps down off the fence but on the wrong side of it and Andy is climbing on top of the fence in an attempt to stop him getting away. Officers are running around in organised chaos and finally they restrain him. ‘I’ve got him’ we hear echoing through various walkie-talkies, most of them present at the scene.
The suspect is in possession of a large bag of coins and has got wads of cash on him.
All of this is removed off the criminal and placed within a clear evidence bag along with his wallet and all other personal possessions. A police dog has turned up and sniffs around for any other suspects that may have assisted to the crime or any property that the robber may have discarded. The suspect is more than happy to tell us that he did it alone as he is addicted to drugs and attempted the robbery as a means of procuring his next hit.
The owners of the supermarket arrive and soon we are shown the CCTV images from inside the store where it becomes apparent that the suspect entered through the roof before emptying the tills of money. Whilst the officers are taking statements and forensic dusts the tills for prints, the suspect is escorted by an officer in an ambulance to the nearest hospital. He is violently sick and claims to have hurt his ankle in his attempt to flee the police.
Ten minutes of excitement in pursuing him is going to result in many hours of paperwork. We return to our vehicle letting the other officers finish the job off and Dave informs me that they are returning to a police station to deal with some of the paperwork. I am asked whether I would like to accompany them to the police station and I decide that this is enough excitement for one night. The boys in blue zoom me off home; apparently I was quite lucky to witness this evening’s events. I am off to sleep a little wiser for having had my police adventure. Unfortunately crime doesn’t sleep.
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Direct Information Accessible Local (D.I.A.L) 101
101 – THE NEW NUMBER TO CONTACT YOUR LOCAL POLICE.
TO FIND OUT MORE VISIT WWW.MET.POLICE.UK/101
By Ana Sheppard