A day in the life of Barking and Dagenham police
- Credit: Archant
Many people will see in 2016 surrounded by friends and family, but not everyone will be lucky enough to have time off.
Emergency crews, medical workers and Tube staff are just a few of those working right through the holiday season – every hour of the day and night.
New Year’s Eve is traditionally one of the busiest nights of the year for the police, so I spent an afternoon on patrol with two of the borough’s officers to get a glimpse of life in the force.
Travelling around in one of the Met’s BMWs with Pc Steve Conway, 42, and Pc Caplin, 28 – who asked not to print his first name – it soon became clear that a typical day in this line of work just doesn’t exist.
Although neither men worked on Christmas Day, both will welcome in 2016 on patrol.
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“It’s unpredictable,” said Pc Caplin. “Generally it’s pretty quiet until midnight and then things get extremely busy.”
“Of course we miss being with friends and family but that’s just how it falls for us.”
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Pc Conway added: “We’re not on our own though – plenty of other people will be working elsewhere.
“Often people will have house parties and stay in but as people are usually getting together with extended family who don’t always get along, and getting drunk, we often get called to quite a few domestic incidents.”
Although we didn’t stop any bank robberies or round up any gangs, the pair were kept busy with an array of different tasks.
From waiting in an A13 lay-by for a pair of reported illegal racers to assisting an injured woman who fell over in Barking market, it became increasingly obvious just how necessary the police are for helping and protect the public.
Although there has often been a long-running distrust of the boys in blue among some areas of the community, it’s something the bobbies are trying to change.
Whether it’s a friendly wave and a smile to young children or offering a hand to a couple pulled over on the A13 – the AA were on their way, it turned out – there’s more to the uniform than locking up the bad guys.
“A lot of the time, it can just be about making sure people are ok,” said Pc Caplin.
“Maybe people don’t always expect the police to do things like check a couple in a car are okay, but you don’t know what’s going on until you go and check.”
Although still relatively new to the job – this will be his first New Year with the badge – Pc Caplin admits the bond between colleagues is something special.
“The team atmosphere is really good,” he explained.
“There’s about 25 people on a team and the nature of the job means we all have to support each other and get along.
“I’ve worked in other jobs before this and nothing really compares.”
Pc Conway meanwhile has been a policeman for the past 18 years.
“When I first started people were only just starting to email each other,” he added.
“Nowadays we’ve got much better radios, better equipment for the car – the Met is always looking to improve – though there’s more paperwork.”