Diss Express reporter joins police team on a night shift
Suicidal people, car crashes and assaults – these are just some of the challenges facing police officers in Diss on a regular basis.
Joining them on a night shift proved an eye-opening experience.
Starting at Diss Police Station, we embark upon a gruelling 11-hour night shift on the weekend before Christmas.
At the start of the shift, we attend a briefing. In the room are six officers, which I am told is the usual amount for the evening shift.
The briefing ends quickly and we go into the reporting room to check emails, crimes and investigations, which are recorded on a system called Athena.
I am introduced to the two officers I will be joining on patrol: 26-year-old Pc Sarah Griffiths, who previously worked for Cheshire Police, and Pc Trevor McLoughlin, who joined in 2013 and used to work for MET Police.
We are in Harleston, patrolling. We look into pubs and check out car parks, with the pair explaining that this is to reassure the public that they are around if needed.
Neither wear a gun. Instead, they are equipped with a taser, a bat, pepper spray and handcuffs.
“The most important kit you have is your mouth, not a gun,” explains Trevor.
We drive past the scene where three teenagers died in a car crash in Pulham St Mary, with Trevor recalling that it was one of the most difficult jobs he has had to attend.
At 8.33pm, we are back in Diss and a young man finds it funny to run away when he sees the police car. Apparently, this happens a lot.
“We can’t arrest them,” says Trevor. “Unfortunately, it is not a criminal offence to be a village idiot.”
At 8.50pm, we are on the lookout for a wanted male in the area.
Trevor and Sarah carry out some intelligence building, which involves writing down number plates of vehicles that seem new to the area or out of place.
We drive back to the office to check intelligence reports and update bosses on our progress.
One of the suspicious looking vehicles has led to the discovery that a known sex offender is associating with a registered sex offender.
We embark on our second patrol to check out events and pubs in the area as part of a series of licensing checks.
We drive faster after receiving a call. The blue lights are on and it feels very surreal sitting in the back of a police car.
The officers are engaging in a conversation over their headphones, which I can’t overhear.
I look outside the window and can tell that we are making our way towards Harleston.
We stop behind another officer’s car next to the road and Sarah and Trevor get out of the car, telling me to wait inside.
I can now tell that a lorry driver has been pulled over.
I assume he will have to do a drug and alcohol test, which Sarah later confirms.
Apparently, the police have been tipped off by another driver, complaining about the lorry driver’s behaviour on the road.
The caller suspected that he was drunk, but it turns out he was just a bad driver.
We receive a report about a suicidal man in Long Stratton.
I am allowed to leave the car and join the team as they knock on the door and ring the bell.
No one opens and Sarah peeks through the letterbox, saying she can see a man lying motionless on the sofa.
Trevor calls the person’s name and urges him to open the door.
As it turns out, the man had just returned from a night out and does not understand why his ex-girlfriend made the call.
He says he has no intention of killing himself and merely wants a good night’s sleep.
Trevor ensures that the man is indeed fine, before we bid him goodnight.
We return to the office where other officers tell us about an incident they attended featuring another suicidal man. On this occasion, it turned out to be nothing.
I can see the frustration on the officers’ faces as they explain that calls like this hinder them from attending incidents where someone could seriously need their help.
It is the end of my 11-hour shift with the Diss team. During the night, we’ve covered 106 miles.
Trevor and Sarah tell me that it was unusually quiet, but, to me, it felt quite eventful and certainly opened my eyes to the challenges faced by officers striving to keep our communities safe.