It would be true to say that in recent times South Yorkshire Police has been heavily criticised, and this has weighed heavily on the shoulders of the men and women who work in the force.
In the midst of such criticisms it can be easy to lose sight of the good things which are part of daily business for South Yorkshire Police, so I thought it would make a change to mention a few of them, because good news does not always get reported.
I recently received a letter from a man who tried to take his own life due to the effects of mental illness. He wrote about a time when he had been armed with a knife and had inflicted deep wounds on himself which were bleeding profusely.
A member of the public rang our control room expressing concern about him and officers made their way to him. Upon arrival they engaged him in conversation. They could see he was really struggling and they kept up the conversation until he put the knife down and an ambulance arrived.
In his letter he expressed his sincere gratitude that at no point did the officers judge or criticise him.
He said: “The officers prevented me from taking my life that day, and showed me there are caring people in the world, I have been successfully treated for depression and I will forever be in the debt of those officers.”
A little while ago I received a letter from a 15-year-old girl. She had fallen out with her mother who had thrown her out of the house one morning and refused to have her back.
In desperation the young girl came to the police station and officers arranged for an emergency appointment with a social worker later the same day. In the meantime the officers cooked her some breakfast, bought her some lunch and then accompanied her to the appointment because she was nervous and upset.
Months later the girl wrote to say she was now with foster parents, doing well at school and had turned her life around. She thanked the officers for supporting her on what was possibly the worst day of her life. Heartwarming stuff.
Recently some of my armed officers were patrolling in Sheffield when they came across an elderly lady who had fallen and badly cut her head.
They summoned an ambulance but were told it was liable to be up to an hour before it arrived. They decided the best course of action was to put her in the armed response vehicle and drive her to A&E themselves. They stayed with her until she was seen by nurses. Despite a nasty injury she made a full recovery.
And finally, one of our call handlers was contacted by a distressed couple. They had gone shopping leaving their dog locked in the car, but unfortunately hadn’t noticed the closing time of the car park. By the time they returned the car park was locked and they couldn’t gain any access. They were panicking a bit by the time they got on the phone but our operator was able to reassure them we could get someone with a key to give them access. Both the couple and the family dog were very relieved when we got there.
These events are part of daily business, it’s ‘what we do’. There are loads of examples like these I have quoted but you may not be aware of them.
People don’t join the police for recognition, they do it because they care about the people they serve.
* David Crompton, South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable