Response and Patrol (R&P) 10 Hour Shift

Response and Patrol Car

Below is the article that was approved for release to the Portsmouth News for publication, and was published, but no longer available on-line. 

Operational detail of this shift is confidential.

Code 1 emergency robbery in progress…… we ran to the car and with blue lights flashing we speed off to catch the villain in the act….

Sorry to disappoint the readers, but my experience with the Hampshire Police 999 Response Team was nothing like what we have seen on the Sweeney, or motorway cops programmes that take months of filming to get one hour of TV programme. 

My night shift started with me arriving at Waterlooville Police Station at 4pm on Saturday 5 December, for a Health and Safety “sheep-dip” and introduction by Inspector Dave Humphries. To give the readers some background, the Police are organized into four functional threads:

1) Neighbourhood and Prevention – local neighbourhood teams focusing on proactive prevention of crime.
2) Response Teams – mobile police who respond to 999 calls operating in a reactive mode.
3) Investigations – CID services
4) Task and Co-ordination – small team

 Following police budget cuts, the police service had to reorganize and instead of the Portsmouth, Havant, Fareham and Gosport areas having their own four-functional teams, the Force decided to reorganize to make the provision of services more scalable and so each of the functional threads is now managed on a county basis rather than a local area.

Meeting Inspector HumphreysI was given the opportunity to go out with the Waterlooville Response Team, who are assigned tasks by the Netley Control Centre who through GPS can track the location of all Response Cars in the County. The effect of this reorganization was that the Waterlooville Response Team who previously had responsibility for just Havant, Hayling Island and Waterlooville could and are sent to tasks anywhere in Hampshire to Southampton and even further away.

The Team have nine cars and three vans; staff shortages meant that not all cars can be out at once.

Having received my introduction I attended the pre-shift briefing where we were informed of the known hotspots and things to specifically look out for. I was assigned to Stu and Ben’s team. For confidentiality reasons I cannot disclose the whereabouts in Hampshire we went to so please excuse the vagueness of some detail.

Task 1 - Locate a car

A car needed locating in connection with drug related activity; we had been given the make (uncommon) and colour and a clue of its location We were unable to locate the vehicle, but it was found by another team later in the evening. In any case, the response car patrolled known trouble areas which made their presence known and that in itself was of value.

Task 2 – Robbery in progress (code 1)

A 999 call given the highest priority is assigned a Code 1, and as our car was flagged as available, and we were the nearest to the location, we were assigned the task. We ran to the car, with the blue lights flashing arriving on the scene some 2-3 minutes later. The “robber” was outside the premises and what was a potentially dangerous situation turned out to be quite the opposite as the “robber” was someone who had been out drinking (a lot), thought he had arrived home and entered an unlocked front door to the surprise of the resident. The Officers who I was with were firm and fair with the individual who was given advice and after a formal "Stop & Search" and some banter he was left to go on his way home. The house owner didn’t wish to pursue the matter further.

Task 3 – Arrest Attempt

From an investigation earlier in the evening two individuals were needed to questioning, and during these attempts I noted the skill of the officers in gaining additional intelligence while at the same time showing compassion to the circumstances of one person who was questioned. The opinion was that the missing individuals would be found, particularly with the extra intelligence gained that night.

Task 4 – Harassment and threats

Harassment and death threats had been reported as made by Person A to Person B, but on visiting Person B, an incoming telephone call established that both Person A and Person B were potentially both victims and offenders. The complication in this case was that Person B presented a condition needing medication. Person B was very distressed, but Police Officers at both Person A and Person B’s houses reached an agreed consensus with all parties not to take any action other than to stop communicating with each other. This was the second incidence of a display of compassion by the Response Team; they reassured Person B that they would not leave until person B felt safe and was satisfied with the outcome.


After the last mentally exhausting call, and with no code 1 emergencies needing our immediate attention we returned to a nearby police station for a break.

Task 5 – Recover car

This was a simple task requiring one of the team to drive back a car to the nearby police station for a thorough search.

Task 6 – Racial Abuse

The owner of a take-away had reported racial abuse only this time we went out in a police van as there were potentially more than one offender. Quick thinking by the officers led to us stopping by a group of young people eating food that may have come from the takeaway. I could barely hear what was said, but one of the group gave the officers a good description of the potential offenders and expressed shock at the racial nature of the comments that had been made. After a thorough search of the neighbourhood the individuals were located but in the event no arrest took place. The owner of the takeaway wanted the individuals banned with no prosecution and this was the outcome.

Task 7 – Catch a villain

It was getting close to 2am, so the team decided to drive around some known drug dealing areas while keeping an eye out for anything unusual. Just as we were returning to Waterlooville, a known individual was spotted who escaped through a maze of alleyways, footpaths and woods. Despite a thorough search in the area, he was not found.

So what have I learned?

  • First, Police Response Team work is not like The Sweeney that is full of action, violence and danger. The officers I was with informed me that they had very rarely used their batons.
  • Second, the Response Team focus on customer satisfaction preferring to resolve a matter on one visit and achieving a satisfactory outcome for the victim.
  • Third, the officers demonstrated effective powers of verbal persuasion being both compassionate and assertive when necessary.
  • Fourth, they have no arrest targets but rightly have targets for customer satisfaction.
  • Fifth, for each incident I formed an opinion of what action was appropriate, and I was somewhat relieved my thoughts were in agreement with the officers' judgement.
  • Finally, I concluded that the Police Service budget has been cut to the bone and no further cuts are sustainable. Both the Neighbourhood Policing and Response Teams provide an equally valuable service to the community.

I would like to finish by thanking Inspector (now Chief Inspector) Dave Humphries for arranging my tour and also to Stu and Ben for a very interesting and informative road trip.

P1000486 RPCell

Stay safe and be good readers, you don't want to end up here.