I work in the Emerald team, investigating domestic abuse and sexual offences. This time of year, we’ll often see a spike in reporting that carries on through into January, as it’s sometimes a difficult season for individuals, or families, already living with domestic abuse. Incidences of sexual offences also see a increase at this time of year.
Over the Christmas period we often forget about those working in emergency services who spend Christmas day responding to calls of help.
Inspector John Nichols and Acting Sergeant Louise Durkin are both working over the Christmas period for the north of the county. They will be on the team that responds to 999 calls.
Christmas will be a little different this year for Louise and her partner, also a response officer, especially with their 20 month old baby.
Louise says: “This year will be particularly challenging because both my partner and I are working during the whole festive period. We also have a 20 month old baby who will be spending a large amount of Christmas with family due to our work commitments.
“To offset this, we are planning to do our own early Christmas Day, but this will not be the same as celebrating with the rest of our loved ones.
“Instead, our Christmas day will be spent with colleagues, who are like a second family.”
John Nichols has been working for Bedfordshire Police for 24 years and has spent a few years working over the festive period.
“This Christmas Day, I will be running the Response team for the north of the county, which covers about two thirds of Bedfordshire. I will lead the team who will attend all of the emergency call-outs during the day,” he explains.
“Over my 24 year policing career, I have worked many a Christmas Day, but this year will be my first on response. Even after all this time, it is never a great feeling to leave your family on Christmas Day.
“As my children are now grown up, they are used to Dad not being there every Christmas. But this year I will be finished by 7pm and get to share some of the celebrations with them.
“These days, I feel sorry for those younger in service. For some of my section, it will be their first ever Christmas not with their loved ones and that can be a bit of a culture shock for them.”
Morale can get low when spending Christmas at work but the close knit teams are always there to support each other.
Louise says: “To keep spirits high amongst the team, who will no doubt be missing their families, we are going to indulge in a few extra treats in between attending incidents and patrolling Bedfordshire.”
John Says: “During times we are in the office, we will be bringing in some food to eat together, but it will no doubt be long before we are dispersed as we each attend different incidents.”
The Christmas period is a busier period for officers because we see an increase in public order offences, drink drivers and domestic incidents.
Louise finishes with some advice to Bedfordshire residents this Christmas: “Be safe, enjoy yourself over the festive period with those you love, because you never know what the future may hold.”
Sergeant Nigel Gallagher has worked many Christmases and is currently the custody officer at Bedfordshire Police Headquarters in Kempston. He gives an insight into what it is like to work in custody over the festive period.
“Working in custody on Christmas Day is pretty much like any other day from an operational point of view.
“Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are the busiest time for us as there tends to be a rise in alcohol-related arrests. Usually the detainees are people who wouldn’t normally be arrested, but have drunk too much and have become disorderly.
“We tend to have an overspill on Christmas morning of those who were out on the town the night before. I can only imagine how much of a shock it is to wake up in a police cell, although maybe the call of shame to Mum about why they won’t be home in time for dinner is something they are more scared of!
“We have even had someone say “You can’t arrest me, it’s Christmas tomorrow!” and then proceeded to spend the night in one of our cells.
“One woman came into custody extremely intoxicated and in a complete mess, as she had been in a fight and asked us if her make-up had run!
“We see more drink drivers across our threshold over Christmas than any other time of year, who make out they have only had a couple of pints, but unfortunately the breathalyser machines tells a different story.
“I think the Thin Blue Line is entirely appropriate around the festive season as we operate on minimal staffing doing 12-hour shifts either during the day or overnight.
“We have decorations up and bring in some festive food which we can tuck into if and when time allows”
“It can be hard when you know many people are at home with their families, but we make the most of it where we can and we are proud to do what we do – keeping Bedfordshire safe.”