Racing against the clock to find missing Margaret

BedsSergeant Nicola Barlow-Cook has been with Bedfordshire Police for 23 years. She tells us what it’s like to lead the search for a missing person who is living with dementia…

On 13 February, at about 7.30pm, Bedfordshire Police Force Control Room (FCR) took a call from a man reporting his 80-year-old mother, Margaret, missing. Margaret and her friend travelled back to Bedford on the same bus but were then due to get on to separate busses to return to their respective addresses. Margaret did not arrive home.

I was alerted to Margaret’s case by the Force Control Room; Margaret had been deemed ‘high risk’ because her family suspected she had early stage dementia. She had not been seen for a number of hours, so it was vital that our search was methodical but that we acted as fast as possible. I took responsibility as Bronze Commander, which means I coordinated the search.

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Just a standard day

The man punched in the face, who’s upset and scared.

The woman threatened by her ex-partner, screaming on the phone.

The woman whose house has been burgled – and completely trashed.

The drivers injured and shaken in a crash on the M1.

The people injecting heroin.

The paramedics who need help with a patient acting aggressively.

The injured man who doesn’t know how he got his cuts.

The woman worried about her daughter, who has gone missing again.

The shop worker threatened with a gun.

The motorcyclist hit by a car.

The child hit by a car.

The woman sexually assaulted by someone she knew.

The child sexually assaulted by someone they knew.

What do these people have in common?

They all needed the help of Bedfordshire Police on the same day.

We also stopped a man at Luton Airport wanted on suspicion of rape.

We went back to the airport to greet someone who was wanted by another force.

We received 30 reports of domestic abuse. One report of hare coursing. Seven reports of burglary. 45 reports of concern for welfare.

Not to mention the many reports of shoplifting, criminal damage, and anti-social behaviour.

That day we took 395 calls. It was just a standard day. 

We want to continue to be able to help you when you need us. We also want to continue to deliver the community policing you value and deserve.

But we need your help.

We have just 169 officers per 100,000 people – compared to the national average of 232 – and we’re facing further cuts.

Please help us continue to deliver the police service you want and need, by signing our petition today. 

Thank you.

Inches from death

It takes great people skills, training, care and stamina to field 999 calls – and Bedfordshire Police Call Handler Debbie Mawdsley has the lot.Debbie Mawdsley2

Debbie works challenging and often fast-moving 12 hour shifts for the force, but she wouldn’t change her job for the world. Here’s why…

“Are you still there?” I asked as the sound of another train hurtling by filled my headset. “Are you still there?” I repeated, trying to remain as calm as I possibly could…

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