“The Public Don’t Know”

“It’s nearly midnight into a Friday morning. I am on night shift command duty in my Force and earlier in the week I had been invited to contribute to a guest blog by my boss. Ideas flashed by, but the solution was quite easy really. These are the musings of my evening up to the point of reading the e-mail requesting that blog – a very busy few hours indeed…..

The sun had been out most of the day, a rarity in itself this past summer and I had been fortunate to have been able to have taken advantage of some of it earlier as I’d been asked to cover this particular shift as a favour to a colleague to cover his night duty. The grass has been cut, the car has been washed and the kids have even had McDonalds. Life is good.

I drive into work and ring our Control Room Inspector to get briefed on a picture of the Force – only to be told, “Boss, its bouncing here. Give you a ring back when I can, firearms job on the go – oh, and a possible murder!”

The line goes quiet…..

Moments later the phone rings, it is my Chief Inspector. He is part of our team that runs the Control Room and is well over his scheduled tour of duty. His conversation starts with a “Hi…” followed by that all too familiar ‘there is something badly wrong’ pause!

“Our command and control system has crashed, we are working on the cause as no-one knows why yet, but don’t worry I am here and will stay here until it’s sorted. You can leave this to me!”

The line goes quiet…..

Moments later the phone rings again and it’s the Control Room Inspector once more. “Right – could be a murder, might not be. Can’t say why as the command and control system is still down. Oh, hang on, I’ve got to go….”

The line goes quiet…..

Moments later I phone an experienced Divisional Chief Inspector colleague who is now at the scene of the potentially suspicious death on a beach at a nearby beauty spot. The tide is coming in to wash away her scene and a body lies nearby with the family emotionally broken as they try to pass through our cordon. She says, “It’s in hand, I’ve got this…..”

The line goes quiet…..

Moments later, the phone rings and it’s my Chief Inspector colleague for the night. I brief him on the suspicious death. He briefs me on a sensitive abduction matter, before a separate incident where a child has been dragged into a car in broad daylight in our capital city. Both are rare and unusual, but he has already spoken with the Duty Inspector for the city who, with experience, has initially assessed the latter incident as a ‘false call, with good intent’ – as we had only received one, solitary call and not the very many you would have expected in our Nation’s capital for such an event. “I will keep you updated on both….”

The line goes quiet…..

Moments later I am on the phone to the on-call Specialist Crime Detective Inspector and we review the circumstances of the potentially suspicious death. I am the stronger for his advice and experience. “I am here if you want me….”

The line goes quiet….

By this time I am in the Western area of the Force speaking with colleagues where I overhear radio traffic of a female found in the street, distressed, reporting that she had been raped. At the same time a motorcycle is reported as having collided head-on with a car in a quiet country lane. The Roads Policing officers around me respond immediately to both in my presence. “No dramas, sir, we’ve got these….”

The station goes quiet……

Once more the phone rings and a Detective Constable from another area of the Force rings to secure advice around the disposal from custody of a male who has assaulted his mother – who in turn was refusing to make a complaint. His evidence is weak at the time and I am asked to consider the possibility of a Domestic Violence Protection Notice. He is quietly encouraged to use his experience and secure further evidence and potentially an admission that would realise a charge. “Thanks Boss, will keep you updated….”

The line goes quiet….

The phone rings again and it’s the familiar voice of the Divisional Chief Inspector, still on duty and more importantly displaying clear leadership and direction at her incident. Reassurance flows up the phone-line. Fast track actions have identified and an independent witness found who confirms the most tragic of accidental circumstances that takes away a loved one, decades too early. “It’s all in hand here….”

The line goes quiet…..

The phone rings and it’s my Chief Inspector for the night again. He briefs me on the tragic circumstances of the hanging of a young mother who had appealed for help locally via social media. Neighbours had responded to find her with a scarf around her neck. They went to her immediate aid, but despite the best efforts of all, the children had lost their mother. Professionally, and as an aside, he also advises me that since our last call he had also applied Policy to two, knife-related incidents that have been resolved without injury.

The line goes quiet……

Then the phone rings once more, almost immediately. This time it’s my own Chief Inspector again. I say ‘again’ because he has featured throughout this story. His calls had remained a constant throughout the evening as he battled with our ICT colleagues to rectify and restore our command and control system – as all of the above incidents were managed, by and large, without it. The Control Room has ‘stood up’ and delivered an incredible piece of command and control without the technological support that it normally relies upon. I have said many times that the most incidents start there and tonight it had demonstrated it in some detail. A potentially suspicious death, two apparent abductions, a serious sexual assault allegations, a serious road traffic collision, knife enabled violence, more death and more violence – all managed and resolved. He has reassured me.

The line goes quiet….

An hour passes that confirms our command and control system is stable once again. The Control Room is catching up and committing to keyboards what it had previously committed to paper.

A young woman lies resting, now at peace, in a hospital mortuary as her family make their way to the most painful of visits. Another young mother lies in another mortuary, her children unaware of their devastating loss. In a bizarre twist of circumstance, a son is in a police cell having now been charged with assaulting his mother.

The incident involving a female alleging sexual assault has been resolved. In one of the abduction incidents enquiries have been finalised whilst detectives painstakingly check CCTV to make absolutely, doubly, sure that no young child was abducted into a car in the second. The road network has been cleared of accident debris and a sense of calm returns.

In the background, quietly and professionally, the service I am so proud to be a part of catches up with itself. A service that prides itself on being the best at understanding and responding to the needs of it’s communities has done so magnificently tonight and my own department has played no small part in doing so.

It truly is a job like no other.

By and large, the public don’t know of what has happened tonight. A few will have been touched by it, some in the most desperate of circumstances – but the wider public will remain blissfully unaware of our part in it all. Tonight however, with the exception of the command and control issue, was a night that was generally not that unusual – which perhaps goes some way to explain why the public don’t know.

However, as I have always said, “those that know, know.”

That makes me even prouder.”

When a ‘thank you’ to all who have helped me tonight can never be or sound good enough, a first blog is written.


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