Chelmsford: Meet the officers responding to your emergency calls
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On an average day, Essex Police receives 120 calls or reports from members of the public relating to incidents in the Chelmsford district.
Of these, between 25 and 50 are 999 calls, many requiring an emergency response. But at weekends and on bank holidays, the proportion of emergency calls will rise to around 50%.
Officers from Chelmsford Local Policing Team will deal with the vast majority of them – they will often be the first police officers you are likely to see at an incident.
And they will often investigate it too.
In a typical day, they will be called out to domestic incidents – ranging from loud arguments between partners to serious assaults – reports of drug-dealing or people under the influence of drugs or drink, road collisions, reports from people concerned for someone else’s welfare, mental health incidents, search for missing people, reports of weapons seen, fights, shoplifting and sudden deaths – where someone has died unexpectedly but, often, not in suspicious circumstances.
Reports of hate-related incidents and community issues will be investigated by community policing team officers, often working with Chelmsford City Council and other partner agencies to resolve them.
“Quite simply, anything can happen on a local policing team shift. The calls are so varied although calls about domestic abuse are prevalent, particularly in the evening after people have returned home from work.
“Obviously, evenings are the worst for emergencies because that’s when pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants are open and drink is involved. Alcohol and violent crime go hand in hand and you can get fights and domestic incidents and, sometimes, weapons may be involved.
“Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays are when we get our busier shifts – towards the end of a late shift and the start of a night shift between 9pm and midnight is when a lot of violent crime happens. It drops off normally between 3am and 6am because most people are in bed by then.
“But not everything is as it is initially reported to us. Take weapons, for instance. The other day we received reports of a man with a flick-knife and it turned out to be a flick-comb. He was combing his hair, not stabbing anyone.
“About 75% of the incidents we attend will require investigating. Some, such as sudden deaths, aren’t crimes and for others, if we have concerns, we’ll need to make a safeguarding referral to another agency. This happens a lot with mental health incidents, where we work closely with mental health nurses who are crewed with a police officer in our Mental Health Triage Cars.”
Sgt Ash Phillips, Chelmsford Local Policing Team
PC Seth Tindale has been on the team for 18 months and enjoys the variety of incidents he attends and the different people he meets.
“The first 999 call I ever went to was a report of a robbery. We spoke to the victim, arrested two suspects, seized evidence and then carried out the investigation before the suspects were charged. That is what I joined up to do.
“It is a high-pressure environment and we often meet people in times of crisis. Mostly, we get to help them but sometimes we have to arrest people if an offence has been committed.
“The majority of jobs are reports of domestic abuse or anti-social behaviour and harassment.
“We also attend a lot of mental health incidents where we’re meeting people at their lowest point and it’s really fulfilling to help them out. We sit with them and assess how much of a risk they are to themselves, not just to others, because our main priority is them.
“I received a letter from the mum of a teenaged girl who I and a colleague had to section under the Mental Health Act for her own safety. She thanked us and told us her daughter was now getting lots of help. That was really nice.”
PC Seth Tindale
One of PC Joe Young’s most memorable calls was to reports of a young man being stabbed in the middle of Chelmsford. He was first on the scene and found a man bleeding quite heavily from several wounds. Shift colleagues PC Paul Miller and PC Kim Webb arrived quickly afterwards, all providing emergency first aid to stem the bleeding until paramedics arrived. The man survived and later the officers were told their actions had saved his life.
“You could go to something like that every day, you just don’t know. You just go out to help people. Everyone’s here to help people, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the job.”
PC Joe Young
Last week, PC Megan Fowler was lying on the ground in Melbourne Park, Chelmsford, at 4am trying to speak to a man who had been lying there for a couple of hours before a passerby made a 999 call.
“I lay down to speak to him, while a colleague held a torch, because I wanted to take his pulse and I didn’t want to risk him moving his neck.
“I got the sense he couldn’t hear me, so I took my mask off. He indicated that he was deaf but could lip-read.
“So I was able to ask him questions and reassure him until paramedics arrived and he was taken to hospital.”
PC Megan Fowler
Her first job as an officer on a local policing team was back in May 2019 when she was sent to speak to a man claiming his former partner had defrauded him of hundreds of thousands of pounds over a number of years.
Megan took his statement and forwarded it to the police force investigating the allegations. Sadly, the man died of cancer before he knew the woman was to be charged with fraud and theft.
PC Jonny Need has just joined the local policing team after finishing his training at Essex Police College. In his first seven days, he’s been already been deployed to the scene of a sudden death and reports of a fight and helped in the search for a missing person.
“No matter what the call, you still don’t know what it’s going to be when you get there.
“We were called to reports of a burglary. When we arrived, we found an elderly woman who was very confused. It was amazing how it suddenly went from us going there thinking we were going to deal with a burglary to reassuring an elderly lady, making her a cup of tea and put her to bed safely.”
PC Jonny Need
In the 12 months to July 2021, overall, crime in the Chelmsford district dropped by 7.3%, with violence causing injury reducing by 11.7% and violence without an injury falling by 9.5%.
During the same period, the number of burglaries reported was down by 28.1%, shoplifting by 8.6% and domestic abuse by 10.6%. Dug offences fell by 28.3% and possession of weapons reduced by 16.8%.
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