Realising a boyhood dream was a shocking wake-up call
It has been one hell of a year for Britain’s police service. Our boys and girls in blue have been in the spotlight like never before. They’ve had to respond to an unprecedented onslaught of terrorist activity, with one officer paying the ultimate price in the line of duty.
Their heroism and professionalism in responding to the five attacks since March has led to calls for a rethink of the cuts to both police budgets, and officer numbers, that has affected every force in England and Wales since 2010. It’s also, according to an end-of-year survey, resulted in an increase in public confidence in our police.
But at the same time, another study has found that almost half of Brits can’t remember seeing a bobby on the beat in the past 12 months. An indication, perhaps, that the police’s high-profile and effective response to national emergencies has in part masked the gentle erosion of community policing and the immense pressures on ordinary frontline officers.
For me, this year has convinced me to finally get round to writing this blog post. Something I’ve been thinking about doing ever since I handed in my warrant card just over 16 months ago. I wanted to reflect on my time as a police officer: the things I saw, the people I met and how it changed my outlook on policing, and wider society, forever.