A member of the public who took part in Dorset Police’s Lay Observation Scheme, has given her account of her experience with Dorset’s police officers on a busy Friday night in Poole.
Monique Munroe, a 58-year-old charity worker and editor of the Canford Heath Neighbourhood Watch newsletter, applied to the scheme to gain an insight into the kind of work the police deal with and to see first-hand what goes on ‘behind the scenes’.
She thought it would be an “interesting experience” and one which she could write about and share with her Neighbourhood Watch members.
Monique is one of 49 people who have submitted applications to join territorial policing officers on patrol, at a time of day or night which is convenient for them.
She recounts her experience with two different patrols: “After arriving at the police station at 6.30pm, I was briefed by police officers. I was kitted out with a stab vest, hi-vis jacket and radio and given user instructions.
“I had adrenaline – rather than blood – pumping through my veins, and that was before we’d even left the police station!
“We went to find a missing person and also to see if we could spot a car which had been involved in an incident earlier on.
“Our searches took us across Poole. We stopped and the PCs spoke to officers who were involved in the missing person case. We didn’t spot the vehicle, but fortunately the missing person was found safe and well and we returned to the station.
“I then went out on a ‘flash’ job (high priority) with a different crew, to deal with some uninvited ‘guests’ at a party.
“The officers put their blues on. I’d never been in a police car until that point and certainly never in a vehicle with a siren and blue light on, so I was surprised how ‘quiet’ it was inside.
“By the time we arrived at the party the uninvited ‘guests’ had gone. They’d obviously found somewhere else dry and warm as it was raining, so we followed up on a stolen vehicle before we were given another ‘flash’ job. A supermarket alarm had been triggered, which proved to be false.
“Our next job was to search an area for the car we’d looked for earlier, as further information had been received.
“I was struck by how difficult it was to see house numbers in the dark, even with the aid of the side search lights on the vehicle.
“Later, another ‘flash’ job came through. This time a burglary – and a description of the vehicle involved.
“We sped off. A vehicle matching the description of the getaway car drove past us. We pursued it, but unfortunately lost it as it disappeared down a very convenient short cut through an industrial estate.
“After an extensive search of the area we spent more time following up potential owners of similar vehicles in the hope of finding the culprit.
“We returned to the station. I handed over my equipment and said my farewells at 1.30am – a lot wiser and more knowledgeable about the work the police do.
“I had no idea so much of their time is taken up with helping vulnerable people, looking for missing people and working in domestic violence, on top of tackling crime that I’m more used to hearing about, like burglaries and disturbances.
“I view my experience as a privilege: a privilege to have been out with such a dedicated and professional team of police officers.
“I would encourage anyone from the community to take part in the scheme and see first-hand how the police operate and the challenges they face.”
Inspector Del Bishop, Governance Team Leader, is pleased that people are signing up to take part in the scheme. He said: “We are encouraging members of our communities, from all walks of life and areas of the county, to join us for however long they can afford, at a time convenient to them, to see what life can be like for a police officer during a shift on patrol.
“I hope that participants of the scheme have an enjoyable experience and leave the police station with an idea of the breadth of calls the police investigate and how resources are utilised.”
Members of the public can apply to be part of the scheme by visiting the Dorset Police website and downloading the application form or searching for ‘Dorset Police Lay Observation Scheme’ on the internet.