I can remember a few years ago when Christmas Day was spent sitting in the nick, playing cards and watching TV and responding to 999 calls. We didn’t used to get many and if any did come in we took it in turns to go. We called it ‘fire brigade’ policing. This was because, generally, not much happened on Christmas day and if it did, people didn’t report it, not until at least Boxing Day or after that.
How things have changed.
Our Christmas Day was really busy. There was no sitting in the nick, no TV, no fire brigade policing. it was just like any other day. I’m not sure whether it was because more things happened or that people’s attitude to a day of peace and goodwill to all men has changed.
Of course, the people that run the police haven’t changed their attitude, so we have about 60% of control room staff on duty, 50% of the front line and about 1% of the non-front liners on duty, because Christmas means double-bubble and double-bubble means lots of cuts need to be made.
The trouble is that nobody tells the public. We had people demanding to see officers for petty car crime, (this is crime that we don’t normally attend on the other 364 days of the year), not only that but they called up at regular intervals throughout the shift wanting to know when they were going to be seen. We had almost a normal days worth of petty domestics, except instead of throwing furniture, orĂ‚Â householdĂ‚Â items at each other when the ex turned up, they were throwing Christmas presents at each other. They were still assaulting each other andĂ‚Â becauseĂ‚Â we only had around 5 officers for the whole division (no neighbourhood or PCSOs), they had to wait all day too.
Time was when it was really unusual to ever see a Christmas Day arrest, I think we had Ă‚Â six or seven throughout the shift. And that wasn’t to mention the sudden death or the suicidal mother who took a relatively short couple of hours to locate in her car at the back of one of the shopping centres.
We didn’t have anyone toĂ‚Â relieveĂ‚Â us for our breaks which meant going single-crewed on a reasonably busy shift for a couple of hours, this goes hand- in-hand with the added stress trying to provide some kind of reasonable level of service.
Still, I expect the job saved a few quid.