Castle Point: Meet the officers responding to your emergency calls
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A desire to help people, keep them safe and make a difference is the reason most police officers join Essex Police.
In the past month, we received more than 30,000 999 calls from the public. Responding to the emergencies are our local policing teams - the first police officers you are likely to see at an incident.
One of those teams is Canvey Local Policing Team, which covers the whole of Castle Point district but is based at the police station in Long Road.
On an average day throughout the year, Essex Police receives 32 calls or reports from members of the public relating to incidents across Castle Point - from burglaries to domestic disputes, from concerns for safety and sudden deaths to reports of missing people, from anti-social behaviour and criminal damage to assaults and dealing with the results of poor & dangerous driving.
They are also the officers who may, sadly, deliver bad news to you on what may turn out to be the worst day of your life.
Sergeant Kev Oxlade says:
“If you do have to make a 999 call, our local policing teams will often be the first police officers you will see if you are in crisis, if you are the victim of or a witness to a crime or if you are suspected of committing a crime. “They will help and reassure those who need it and, if a crime has occurred, they will investigate it, too.”
Kev has been with the team for three years but he grew up on Canvey Island so he knows the area well.
“Canvey is a community within a community and everyone knows each other, which helps us. They are friendly but they will tell us if they are unhappy about something. “There’s a real mix of work for us so our officers have a wide range of policing knowledge and experience. “Across the district, we get pockets of anti-social behaviour and there are a lot of thefts, particularly from cars and sheds, as well as mental health incidents and domestic violence.”
Every shift is busy but sometimes there is time for local policing officers to go out on proactive patrols in between attending incidents to engage with the public and build neighbourhood links.
“The pubs on Canvey close at 11pm and there aren’t any nightclubs so we have the opportunity to be more proactive with our policing. Officers have the time to patrol on foot and really know the district. “They can also mount proactive operations to catch criminals who are causing the most harm in our communities.”
In 2023, Castle Point district saw 590 fewer crimes reported, a drop of nearly 10 per cent, and almost 360 fewer incidents of anti-social behaviour, a 35 per cent decrease.
Violent, sexual and domestic offences all fell and there were fewer burglaries and incidents of criminal damage.
And Kev says:
“We want people to report crime and anti-social behaviour to us because it helps us to monitor crime trends and then we can target our resources in the best way.”
Many officers on local policing teams love the variety and say that is what attracts them to the job.
PC Dan White has been with Canvey LPT for three and a half years. Having worked in the hospitality industry and had a few interactions with police officers, he decided he wanted to be the one helping, rather than the one calling for help.
“Every day is different. You are there in people’s hour of need. The moment they need us the most, we are the responders. It is nice to be that person who helps them in the first instance.”
One call which sticks in his mind is responding to a stabbing. Dan recalls:
“I was round the corner when it was called in and was first on scene. I had to use my first aid training and perform CPR on my own until fellow officers and then an ambulance arrived. “Fortunately, the man survived but the paramedics said a couple of millimetres over and the knife would have hit his jugular vein and nothing could have been done. As it was, he was discharged from hospital four hours later.”
PC Jake Brown says he ‘signed up to protect people’.
“We can make a difference.”
Jake gets particular satisfaction from helping older people who may have dementia or other mental health issues.
“I reassure them and make sure they know what’s happening. Understanding their situation and making the appropriate referrals is a big part of it but so is following up afterwards, where I can, and giving them a call to see how they are. “A bit of compassion goes a long way.”
Eight months ago, Jake and a colleague attended a call for mental health assistance at Canvey Pier:
“The young man was very anti-police to begin with but we gained his trust and showed him we cared and we understood. “We were sitting on the beach and he spoke about his life and what was going on. I know people who’ve had mental health issues so I shared some personal experiences and what helped them manage. We had a good chat and saw the sunrise, which made him realise life was worth living. “I’ve spoken to him since. He’s moved and got a new job. He emailed to say ‘thanks for making sure I’m alive’.”
Jake also came from a hospitality and events management background but was furloughed during the pandemic and started thinking about what he really wanted to do.
“I’m a people person and I like giving that extra mile and care and paying attention to service so I thought the police would enable me to do that. “I also realised I didn’t get to spend much time with my family in the evenings and at weekends so I joined the police because the shift patterns were more sociable.”
PC Katie McDougall comes from a policing background but started out in the Prison Service. Now she finds investigations particularly rewarding.
Recently, she helped a victim of domestic abuse, who’d been subjected to coercive and controlling behaviour, including financial abuse, and physical abuse for a decade.
“Her husband wouldn’t allow her to work and repeatedly cheated on her. “She’d given statements before but retracted them and said nothing had happened. “But I spent a lot of time building her confidence and put her in touch with a support charity, which provided counselling. She provided a long statement and later emailed to say that, without me, she wouldn’t have gone forward with it but, instead, she’s been able to stand up to her abuser and protect her children.”
The case was subsequently transferred to our domestic abuse investigation team (DAIT) to build a case for court.
“It’s very satisfying to protect people who are vulnerable and can’t protect themselves.”
Are you or is someone you know suffering from domestic abuse?
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone at any time and comes in all different guises. If you feel unsafe or distressed by a loved one or family member, you could be a victim of domestic abuse.
And domestic abuse is never acceptable. Report it by dialling 999 in an emergency or 101 otherwise. If you call 999 and cannot speak because you're in a dangerous situation, press 55 on your phone and our operator will know how to respond.
You can also find support networks across Essex by visiting Essex Compass.
If you are an abuser, is it time to Reflect on your behaviour? Call the Change Project on 0845 372 7701 or visit The Change Project for help and support to make a change.
Do you fit the bill?
At Essex Police, we value difference, and know that we’re strongest when we all work together.
If you share our values and want to protect and serve our communities, why not join us?
If you think you could protect and serve the people of Essex, either as a police officer, member of staff or volunteer, why not see if you fit the bill?