Clacton: Meet the officers responding to your emergency calls
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On an average day during the summer, Essex Police receives around 110 calls or reports from members of the public relating to incidents across the Tendring district – compared with an average of 83 during the winter months.
In the summer, around 37 calls will require an emergency response. This figure may rise at the weekend, on a bank holiday or during the Clacton Airshow.
Officers from Clacton Local Policing Team (LPT) 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.
During 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, reports of weapons seen, fights, shoplifting and sudden deaths – where someone has died unexpectedly but, often, not in suspicious circumstances.
Because Tendring has a wealth of beautiful beaches, the district attracts plenty of families and so the team are often asked to search for missing people, ranging from young children who just wander away from their parents, to older people with mental health issues or dementia.
Officers are often requested by other forces to check addresses associated with missing people – because the coastline is a draw to many – or to check on someone’s welfare after a worried relative in another county has called their local force.
And they will work to ensure safeguarding measures are put in place at home for victims of domestic violence who have been assaulted while visiting the district.
Reports of hate-related incidents and community issues will be investigated by community policing team officers, often working with Tendring District Council and other partner agencies to resolve them.
During a recent day shift, local policing officers attended a house fire to help evacuate the neighbours and close surrounding roads, a road traffic collision involving a mobility scooter, several reports of domestic violence, a suspected drink driver, a couple of disturbances, a seal stranded on a beach and an attempted suicide – thankfully, officers were able to gain entry and contact the man’s family, who took him to hospital.
They also made inquiries about criminal damage caused to a series of beach huts and arrested a man on suspicion of assaulting his partner and a woman on suspicion of assaulting her husband.
Inspector Aaron Heard says during July, August and early September the population swells because the district is a great family holiday destination – with great weather, a long coastline and beaches stretching from Harwich right round to Jaywick, via Walton, Frinton, Clacton and Holland-on-Sea.
“In the summer, we see increases in crimes such as shoplifting, domestic abuse and public order incidents, particularly at night, because a lot of people are drinking during the day and in the evening. “Our local policing officers don’t stop but they are always smiling and, when a job comes in, they go straight out to it because they know someone needs their help.” Inspector Aaron Heard
As you can see, there’s a huge variety in the calls we receive and all our local policing officers agree no two days are the same.
PC Steve Thompson doesn’t like sitting still.
“I enjoy the variety and I love talking to people so It’s the perfect job for me. “My parents were foster carers for many years so I have a diverse family background and I find being able to help anyone, particularly when they are vulnerable, can be very rewarding. “We normally meet people when they are in crisis and it’s good to be there when people need us and to try to make a difference. “I make social care referrals, where necessary, and if I attend a job where I believe the children are in danger of neglect or abuse, I can carry out a police protection order. This means we can take the children into police care immediately and then contact emergency Social Care who will put them in a place where they are safe. “That is a very satisfying part of the job, particularly when I have seen so much from the other side of things.” PC Steve Thompson
Recently, Steve helped a woman who had been violently assaulted by her partner. The man was arrested and the case handed over to our Domestic Abuse Investigation Team.
“The other day, the man was jailed for several years. It was very gratifying to be able to get involved and protect that woman from further violence from that individual.” PC Steve Thompson
PC Paul Miles initially joined Essex Police as a custody detention officer in 2015 but trained as a police officer last year and joined Clacton LPT last November. Again, he enjoys meeting people from different walks of life and hearing their stories.
“It’s the interaction with the public, with the people who need us the most. It’s good to know we can make a difference. “Everyone is fighting their own personal battle and, as police officers, we want to safeguard children and vulnerable adults and keep them from harm.” PC Paul Miles
As Paul says, the job of a local policing officer is very worthwhile but, of course, it can be challenging too. On his first day as an officer, he made his first arrest, on suspicion of manslaughter and child cruelty or neglect.
“On my second day I attended a road traffic collision in which two people died. On the third, a young girl had died at home and on day four I attended another sudden death. “On day five, I was wondering if I’d made the right choice in becoming a police officer but the team rallied round me and my chief inspector told me I’d been very unlucky but things would get better. And he was right! That’s what I love about this job, it’s pretty much family.” PC Paul Miles
Recently, Paul and Steve attended a job where they needed to safeguard a two-year-old. They alerted Social Care – who will work to find a foster family for the child – and arrested the father on suspicion of child neglect.
“We work with adult and children Social Care and the East of England Ambulance Service. It’s great to have all these people coming together to make a difference to a person’s life. “All these different organisations are here to help people and keep them safe so, if we can help people by making referrals, with their consent, to these organisations, we do. “There’s the National Centre for Domestic Violence if someone needs help because they are in a relationship they feel they can’t get out of. The NCDV can help them put steps in place. We’ve got a local domestic abuse charity, too, Next Chapter. “Then there’s Safe and Well, where we can make referrals to Essex County Fire and Rescue Service if we think people need help with fire safety advice, for example, if their homes are full of clutter. It’s brilliant. “And seeing someone later when they tell you they are in a good place, they’ve been rehoused and there’s a non-molestation order against their ex-partner is great.” PC Paul Miles
PC Carly Dawes has been with Clacton LPT for a couple of years. She loves the fact that she never knows what she is going to get called to or exactly what to expect when she gets there.
“We go to quite a lot of domestic incidents and we offer support. It can be really rewarding to go back, maybe a few weeks later, to see a victim who’s changed their life and how we’ve helped them to do that. “Sometimes it takes victims of domestic abuse a while to realise they shouldn’t in the situation they are in. We try to help them as much as we can and show them that there are alternatives and there’s help out there for them. I don’t think they always know that but when we turn up and say ‘we can do this for you, we can make referrals for you’ it gives them hope. “When they get some support and get on to a different track, it’s really rewarding.” PC Carly Dawes
Carly says the team attends ‘a mixed array’ of incidents including searches for missing children and adults, or people with mental health issues or reports of sudden deaths.
“But then the other day we attended one where there were pigs in the road and we had to direct traffic and make sure the animals were safe." PC Carly Dawes
Time to reflect
If you recognise any of the behaviour mentioned in this article and have been reflecting on your actions, it’s not too late to make a change.
Please visit The Change Project for advice on how to make a difference to you, your family, and your partners in the future: www.thechange-project.org