It’s not just our regular officers and staff who are out there keeping you safe this Christmas.
We have a whole team of volunteers who give up their own time to help make a difference in their communities.
As most of us are settling in for the evening after a long day at work, our Specials are pulling on their uniform and heading out to help police our streets.
As we continue to Lift The Police Tape on the work of our teams, we caught up with Special Sergeant Tom Gwillam to find out more about life as a volunteer on the beat.
Friday 8am – Wake myself up. Grab some breakfast and head down to the day job. Packing my police uniform in the bag ready for the evening ahead. I won’t bore you with my paid job!
3:30pm – Change into my police uniform while I’m still at work. I’m normally sending a few WhatsApp’s to my fellow Specials about the night of volunteering ahead.
5pm – Finish the day job and head to Bransholme police station. I pick up my equipment and drive to Osborne Street police station. Normally I have the chance to catch up on a few emails that I have missed during the week before my fellow officers arrive. Being a Special Sergeant, I normally then organise the pairings and pop together a briefing for the other Specials.
6pm – Kit up! I put my body armour on, check my handcuffs are secure and that I have all the bits and pieces I need to head out. At this point my fellow officers are normally trickling in saying “Hi” and catching up on a week of not seeing each other. We normally get the same faces working night time economy (our town and city centres) each Friday and Saturday night.
7pm – Briefing time! We normally run though any intelligence that may have been received in regards to the night time economy. For example, where were the problems last week? Was anyone arrested? Are there any wanted people we need to look out for? I normally allocate call signs (so we can easily be identified and contacted by the control room staff) and give areas for officers to focus on – maybe the Marina, Old Town, New Town. After this we all tell each other to stay safe and head out.
8pm – Normally I walk down Carr Lane and say hi to the door staff at various bars. Normally I would pop into King Edward Street and Star, just checking if they have any issues. On this occasion a very drunk female was pointed out to me. We managed to stand the women up. She was in a really vulnerable position and barely able to stay on her own feet. I called up for some more volunteer officers to come and pick her up and they took her home. Initially she had been arrested for being drunk and incapable, but after we made sure she was safe we had a stern word with her, de-arrested her and left her in the care of her mum.
9pm – Finally make it into the old town, We would normally have a quick chat with the bars and perform some licencing checks. Under the Licensing Act we have a power of entry into any licenced premises. We normally go in to make sure door staff and bar owners are conforming to safe standards, looking for people whom are too drunk, or evidence of drugs in the toilets for example. On this occasion all was in order.
10pm – Time for some food – as we know that it normally gets busier later in the evening. It’s Friday so I normally pop into a takeaway for a pizza and head back to Osborne Street. While I eat I usually complete the paperwork from our licencing visits earlier in the night.
11pm – It atarts to get busy, Our food break is cut short as we are deployed to a fight in progress outside Admiral of the Humber just round the corner. Myself and my colleague head out to intercept the perpetrators. Another van is also coming to back us up. Civic CCTV are feeding descriptions and locations into our ears. Upon arrival, there is a mass of people, filming, holding people back etc. It is always difficult for a police officer in these scenarios to understand the full context with so many people wanting to tell the story!
We each took a person from the fight to one side. It turns out one person had picked up the others drink leading to a scuffle! Neither party was injured and neither wanted to make a complaint. To stop them fighting again later in the night, both were marched to the taxis and told not to come back into town. The man who threw the first punch was given a Section 35 Notice. (This does not go on your criminal record but bans you from a certain area for a certain amount of time. In this case, the city centre)
12am – The pubs in New Town start to close and the focus starts to shift to the Old Town. We make our way down on foot and confiscate lots and lots of alcohol on the way. In the city centre, you cannot have open containers of alcohol and we don’t want to be in a situation where a pint glass becomes a weapon later in the evening! We bump into a group of university students walking the same way and we get the typical questions we’re asked at least once every Friday and Saturday night:
Is it true that a pregnant lady can pee in your hat? – No, plus there are ventilation holes in the helmet so it’s slightly pointless.
Can you handcuff me? – No that’s paperwork
Can I have a photo? – Yes!
Do you know this police officer? Whom works on the other side of the force? She’s my sister! – Usually not… there are thousands of members of staff in Humberside so it’s rare we will answer this question with a yes, especially being Specials
Walking past the bus stop onto Whitfriargate we see a car shoot though a red light. Luckily my eagle eyed colleague caught the registration. Using our force phones we report the vehicle for the offence, They will be getting a letter with a fine!
1am – You can always feel when it’s about to kick off, the atmosphere changes. Patrols are being pulled off the town to attend ongoing incidents across the city so we are down on numbers. But that doesn’t faze us!. A man is seen aggressively shouting in the face of a doorman whom has just ejected him.
Please note: bars and clubs are private premises – their house, their rules – and you accept those rules when you walk in, so they do not need a reason to kick you out.
This man demanded that we get him back in…. Sorry bud, not happening.
Based on his attitude and the likelihood of him fighting or causing more issues this chap became the second person issued with a section 35 notice and accompanied to the taxis.
2am – A women has reported that she’s been offered drugs by a man with a white coat and tattoos on his face.
We head to the bar. Now this man stands out, so we grab him and take him outside.
Immediately he is very clearly worried and reaching for his pocket. As I explain that we will be searching him, a small bag of white powder drops to the floor.
I seize this and carry on with the search. I find more bags of white powder and over £1,000 in cash in his pockets.
One in custody for possession with intent to supply. As I take him to the van he tries to make a run for it.
Luckily we have him well controlled and it’s an easy job to carry this chap to the van to be booked into Hotel Clough Road.
3am – Now it’s on to the paperwork! Statements need writing, investigations need raising and a handover package putting together.
The items we seized also need booking into property for safe disposal. At this point I get a call from the Operation Galaxy Sergeant.
Turns out they had been planning to raid my prisoner’s home address, so he quickly rounded up some officers and carried out the warrant.
They found more drugs at the house and arrested my prisoner’s partner – all in all a very successful job.
4am – Home time! We hand the paperwork over to the prisoner processing team and head back to Osborne Street. But on the way a drunk man stumbles into the street.
We stop the car and oh dear – it’s the same guy we gave the section 35 notice to at the start of the night.
Instead of walking away with a verbal warning he was brought into custody for breaching his Section 35 order. In the morning he was given a £90 fine and a criminal record.
5am – After completing our second round of paperwork. We finally make it back to the nick so we can go home. At this point the town is silent and we reflect on the night we have had.
I love being a Special and keeping the streets of the city centre safe. Everyone from the Street Angels, to the CCTV control room operators, the door staff and taxi drivers all chip in.
I am happy to be part of such a brilliant night time economy community.
But for now, it’s time to drive home and have a good sleep!