It’s 7am on a Thursday morning and PC Jack Millward is sat in a room at Hartlepool Police station getting briefed for the day along with his colleagues.
There are no immediate jobs to attend early that morning so PC Millward jumps into his police van and starts the day making house-to-house enquiries in relation to an affray.
Soon he’s back in the van and visiting some hotspot areas. As he’s driving around, he’s pointing out areas he goes to and people he knows – clearly he knows Hartlepool in and out.
He waves at a few children in the neighbourhood and even stops to speak to a man who helpfully told him he had his lights on.
PC Millward enjoys interacting with the community and said the little things can make a huge difference.
He said: “A routine task to us can make such a big difference to someone’s life where they feel like it’s made a big impact whereas we can sometimes just do that without even thinking about it so I think supporting the community in that way can make a difference and gives you great job satisfaction.”
After a relatively quiet Thursday morning, an urgent call comes through the radio asking for assistance to apprehend a young male who fled from officers.
“Two minutes out,” PC Millward replies on the radio and we soon pull up behind an awaiting police van. The suspect is soon apprehended and PC Millward helps search a vehicle while calmly speaking to those at the scene.
After wrapping up that job, PC Millward gets back in his van and heads out to take a statement from a victim of stalking. His role in response means he never knows what job he’ll be doing when.
Response officers are usually the first on scene to a wide array of incidents – some of which stay with them due to their distressing nature.
PC Millward said: “There was a really gruesome scene I attended a couple of months ago and the scene had really stuck with me, the condition of the victim, the condition of the suspect and the scene itself has really resonated with me. With family and friends, we can’t disclose information yet we have to process that. It’s a lot of baggage to take on.
“When people talk about the dark humour and things like that we’ve got to try and make light of what we do because you could go to two or three jobs in a day, especially when you’re working weekends or busy shifts, when one of them would be enough in terms of the emotional side.
“You could just be non-stop, and you get to the end of it and you just think how have we got through that? I have friends and family too, but I think sometimes people forget that, some people just see us as a uniform. They don’t really see there is people behind what we do.
“I understand that it is a choice that we’ve taken, and we’ve signed up to do it but officer welfare is still a thing.”
As part of Response Policing Week, which runs from June 26th to July 2nd, we’re bringing you an insight into the role of our response police officers who work tirelessly to keep our communities safe.