Officers of the Christmas Shift
Main article content
As many of us start the wind-down to Christmas, we’d like to introduce a small number of officers that will be working over the festive period.
Over the next week, we’re shining the spotlight on PCs, Inspectors, Superintendents, police staff and special guests from our Dog Section, who will all be at work on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or Boxing Day while others spend time with family and friends.
“Everyone has this image of Christmas, but the reality is it’s a really tough time of year for many people.
“One of the most memorable jobs for me personally was attending a domestic where a family had a load of frozen food on their worktops. They were obviously putting more effort than normal in to cooking the dinner, but an argument had broken out and the step-dad had stamped on some of the presents in anger. When we arrived, the kids were sat on the floor, upset, but not affected by a police presence at all, this was ‘the norm’ for them.
“Tensions can sometimes build as alcohol flows and families have to spend time together rather than wanting to. I will be working a 12-hour-shift on Christmas Day, from 7am-7pm in the call centre. A lot of the calls we’ll get on Christmas day will see people falling out with each other for whatever reason.
“From midday its likely we’ll see calls reporting domestics and this will carry on into the evening. No matter how many calls we take, the atmosphere in the call centre will remain positive. We spend more time together than we do with our own families, so we really pull together at times like this.
“We will have our own celebration and enjoy ourselves, we’re having a fuddle and will have fun when we can – it’s ok to have fun at work. I don’t mind working Christmas and heading up a team of dedicated, hardworking people all here to keep Derbyshire safe.
“Some of the team are even working split shifts to make sure that their colleagues are able to spend some time at home with their families on the main days of the holiday period.
“I have worked for the force for 24 years and have worked on Christmas day for about half of these. A normal Christmas for me is full of family time and a big Christmas dinner followed by a leg stretch, but as I’m working this year I’ll be celebrating it with family on Christmas Eve instead.”
“I am now into my 15th year serving the public of Derbyshire and have worked many Christmas days. This is my second Christmas spent away in the Middle East and I will naturally miss both my actual family and policing family.
“When working back in Derbyshire I will usually get to spend some part of Christmas day at home and either have an early or late Christmas dinner to coincide with whatever shift I'm working. I will miss the inevitable shift fuddle which will take place and if not coordinated or controlled properly will just see everyone bring a pack of sausage rolls!
“This year I will have a Skype call with my family then the day out here will be a normal working one just like if I was working in the UK. Certain services need to be 24/7 and I am proud to represent Derbyshire Constabulary in the coalition environment I work in.
"I’m looking forward to returning home in the spring and returning to my life in blue. Merry Christmas and be safe.”
Crime Scene Investigator Zoe Parnell
“This Christmas I will be working in my role as a Crime Scene Investigator. The work we get in at this time of year has a massive impact on families we go and see – it can be from burglary to murder, but no matter what happens, everything is worse when it happens at this time of year.
“My role is to collect evidence from a crime scene, and I’ve found over time that the role is seen as a really trusting one. We turn up when families are at their most vulnerable, go into their homes, ask them how they are, and they open up to us.
“We attend a lot of house burglaries over the festive season. Families have worked hard to buy their children’s gifts, not at all expecting them to be stolen or torn open, causing upset and the feeling of disappointment for their children. Dealing with the mental trauma of victims and relatives being upset is difficult however CSI’s have a natural ability to be compassionate and help with listening which is all they need sometimes.
“It’s a very natural ability for me – the additional role of a counsellor almost, and because we are actually police staff, people seem to tell us a bit more than they would perhaps tell an officer as we aren’t there to enforce anything, we’re just there to help them get sorted.
“On Christmas Eve, I would traditionally go to the zoo with my family. We try to go to one every year, travelling the country to find a new one, but this year I’m working 2pm-10pm on Christmas Eve so I will miss out on that, as well as the madness that we all have to do, sprinkling reindeer dust out on the drive, getting Santa’s drink, mince pie and not forgetting Rudolph’s carrot and laying presents out when the children are asleep! My husband will be there to do it with them though, and hopefully if work allows I will be able to nip home on my break and see them before they go to bed.”
PC Chris Morris and Police Dogs Arnie and Sybil
“This is my first Christmas working on Dog Section. I can honestly say it’s the best job I’ve ever had. I currently work a general-purpose dog called Arnie and a Forensic dog called Sybil. Both live with me, and I’ve also got another German shepherd and two Cocker Spaniels. All of them mean the world to me.
"I’ve worked here since 2008 and worked the majority of those Christmases. I used to be in the army and previously a PCSO at Nottinghamshire Police so I’m used to being away from home at Christmas time.
"On Christmas Day we will get called to a variety of jobs. We’ll be providing support to officers across the county, attending serious incidents, domestics, firearms jobs, missing people… the list is endless and we can find ourselves anywhere in the county.
"Everyone I will work with that day will have good Christmas spirit, they always do. I don’t mind working at Christmas, I’ve done that many Christmas shifts over the years.
"One tradition I do have though, I do book myself a January holiday. I like to have something to look forward to, so in January I am off to Slovakia skiing. That’ll be my Christmas celebrations, plus it’s my birthday so I will enjoy double celebrations in the new year.”
PC Adam Hardy
“This year, I’m working the Christmas Eve shift and I’ll be on until 5pm. In the lead up to the festive period we’ll mainly be down at McArthur Glen doing shoplifting patrols and engaging with the community which is a key part of being a PC for the Safer Neighbourhood Team.
"Last year I did the night shift, which meant that I got Christmas Day off. Of course, if you’re doing nights it means you get the day to spend with your family, but it does still impact on your day; you can’t drink and you spend a part of your day getting enough sleep for the night.
"I usually like to get up early on Christmas morning, which I’ll be able to do this year.
"I’ll get up and have my traditional Christmas morning breakfast; a bar of Dairy Milk. A big one. I don’t normally eat chocolate during the year but on Christmas Day it’s tradition. I’m talking about a really big bar too, not the small ones. I’ll be going all out with that.
"I’m really looking forward to being with my family. I’ll go to my parents, see my grandparents, have dinner with them and then continue to eat my body weight in chocolate.”
PC Tenielle Hardwick
“Prior to having my little girl and boy, I’ve worked five Christmas shifts on response. As I’m now on Clay Cross Safer Neighbourhood Team, my shift pattern means that I will be working on the 24th, so I will miss putting them to bed and having that night-before-Christmas magic with them.
"Luckily my husband (who also works for the force) will be able to carry on our traditions while I’m at work.
"On my first ever Christmas shift on response, I recall going to a domestic incident where the Dad had come home drunk and ripped the tree and decorations down. I always think of those kids, and even though now they will be in their 20s I wonder if they remember that day.
"I also had to tell a family that their loved one had died one Christmas morning, and their reply was “What do I do with his Christmas present? I haven’t got the receipt.” It was surreal but so sad.
"This year our shift will be full of our normal policing duties. I’ll be there when I’m wanted and hopefully it will be a festive, peaceful day! Everyone is happy and we usually get a bit of time to cook a big English Breakfast and eat it before we start.
"On Christmas Day I will be cooking a big dinner and playing games with my kids to make up for missing Christmas Eve. My parents are coming over too for a few days, and we will be going on a big family walk. I’m really looking forward to it.”
Chief Inspector Ranjit Dol
“One of my fondest memories of working on Christmas Day was when I was in Northamptonshire Police, cleaning the police cars when we had a bit of down-time. My sleeves were rolled up, I was wet, I was soapy, when a very smartly dressed man and woman walked through the gates with two small children. It took me a minute, but I realised it was Chief Constable Chris Fox and his family – they’d come to see us at the station to deliver a box of biscuits to share!
This is my first Christmas as a Critical Incident Manager. The role means I will have to look at any reports that we get involving firearms and assess them, ensure we have sufficient resource across the county and that there are measures in place to ensure public confidence in the force.
I’ve worked here for 18 years now and worked the majority of Christmases - be it in a uniformed role, as a detective, and negotiator. I wasn’t actually supposed to be working this year but there was a gap in the rota, so myself and two other colleagues volunteered to work, and we’re splitting the time so we can all spend some time with our families too.
When I get to spend the day at home on Christmas, I love the food. On Christmas morning, I’m in charge of making the family fry-up, then we’ll open presents before sitting down to a big dinner with all the trimmings at about 2pm. We’ll then watch something rubbish on the TV and eat some more, before falling asleep or going for a walk in the park. It’ll be a bit different for me this year though as at the start of December I decided to go vegetarian, so I’ll be having a quiche as my dinner instead.”
Superintendent Adrian Gascoyne
“This Christmas will be my last one in the force as I’ll be retiring next year. I’ll be working as Gold Command, which means I’ll be overseeing the whole force from 7am on Christmas Eve to 7am on Christmas Day. I’ll also be doing the same on New Year’s Day.
“For many out there Christmas isn’t the shiny, warm, twinkling world you see on the Christmas adverts; it’s often no better than any other day. There’s a heightened sense of aggravation as families spend more time than usual together, and add alcohol to the mix and it can make certain situations worse.
“From my own experiences, it’s quite a contrast to the atmosphere that officers and staff feel on shift. There’s a real camaraderie between everyone that works over Christmas, it feels like an inclusive club, with fuddles and people marking the day where they can.
“Across the force and In the Force Control Room, Boxing Day is always busier than Christmas Day. The combination of alcohol, family tensions and the lack of the distraction of work can often lead to domestics and fights, so the call handling teams will be dealing with that throughout the day.
“I’ve worked many, many Christmas periods across the entire county. I’m into my 31st year working for the Constabulary, and only recently moved into the Contact Management and Resolution Centre back in October.
“This year my call period finishes at 7am on Christmas morning, but I’ll have been at work from 7am on Christmas Eve, and will remain on call overnight.
“How busy we are overnight will have an effect on what we can do as a family during the rest of the day but I know many officers will be far more impacted than I will. All of that said, at this time of the year I’m always reminded why I joined the Police Service in the first place, and strange though it is I am always really proud to be able to contribute to our policing service at such a critical time.”
PC Claire Harradine
“Since having children, my Christmases have changed considerably. I used to work it most years, but now I get woken up to the news that Santa has been and we have to creep down stairs, open the living room door to what can only be described as a toy shop! We’ll open our presents, have some Buck’s Fizz and croissants, and get our Christmas Day outfits on before I start the dinner.
"Luckily, I’m on the late shift this year working 3pm-11pm, so I will still get that magic with my family (minus the Buck’s Fizz) - we can have an early dinner before my husband takes over the entertainment!
"Working at Christmas can show a side to people that can put a dampener on your own sights of the season. Seeing the families that argue, the families that have hot dogs as their Christmas dinner, and the families that genuinely don’t have anything really does make you grateful for what you have.
"I remember one year I went to a house where there were two young boys, and they had no food in their house. I ended up going to the local garage and filling a bag with biscuits and cakes and they were so grateful for it. I found it hard to go home that year, and sit down to enjoy a big dinner with my family knowing they only had the cake I’d just bought them.
"Saying that though, everyone that works at Christmas is chirpy. You’ll never see a cop that’s unhappy to be at work even though they’re not with their own families. We will celebrate together, there’s a real sense of camaraderie, we’ll all bring food in – even though we don’t normally get chance to eat it the intention is there that you will sit and eat together.
"This year I’m working in Amber Valley on response. We will respond to any 999 calls, road traffic collisions, reports of domestics and any assaults. I’ll be doing the same again on Boxing Day – I volunteered to work both shifts as the morning really is the most important part of Christmas Day for me.”