So it finally happened and I was the only one left. All of my team gone due to leave, sickness, duty changes and other reasons. Nobody to supervise but me – Great!
It was like years gone by walking on nights all alone. I attracted a few funny looks as I walked the streets in the early hours but not the looks I wanted. I wanted the shocked, "shit it’s the old bill" look. The one where I know I’m in the right place and he’s in the wrong place. There was nobody around, but those who did appear got a mental once over to see if they were worth a turn. Up and down the same streets and loitering in doorways just in case somebody came into view. This is 3am and I love it, I could quite easily be back at the station but I don’t get the opportunity to do this often.
Just occasionally the radio would burst into life, I wondered if it was heard by any light sleepers. These are the same roads where the naughty boy’s like to ply their trade. They don’t care if you’re asleep upstairs, they are looking for a weakness in your home security and they’ll be in. Tonight I’m on guard and after a couple of hours head back in for a break. Nothing for me tonight, but I was there, when everyone was sleeping – just in case.
5am and some lights are now on and more people appear, the early workers. I’m back at the station and the call comes out at 5.30am, suspect disturbed. I curse my luck, it wasn’t to the roads I was walking but it’s close enough. I walk down and am amazed at how busy the streets are now. A refuse collector is piling up the rubbish bags waiting for the lorry to pick up later.
Units are there already and attending to the caller. Somebody has tried his sash window, and all he’s seen is a pair of gloved hands. He states that this had happened an hour before too, but he hadn’t called us then. That’s a shame as his neighbour’s front door is open. They get woken up to uniformed officers downstairs. They are now lacking a couple of laptops and the husband’s Christmas present. Did he know he was getting a new leather jacket? If the caller had called the first time, I was nearby and only minutes away. Was my patrol worthwhile? Would he have burgled in my roads? Did I prevent crime? Who knows, that’s your luck sometimes. You've got to be in it to win it and another night my luck will be in.
The next night I have to do the midnight throw out in the Town Centre. If all goes well I can walk the streets again later. About a 100+ spill out onto the pavement and decide to stay talking. I get the CCTV put onto the crowd just in case. They are starting to stand in the road, so I stroll over to usher them back. About three yards to my right a lad punches someone full on the head. I’m in full uniform and only have to stretch out to grab him. He’s drunk and cuffed before he realises who I am, for a moment he thought about lashing out – but too late my son. I glance up and the CCTV hasn’t got me, I fend off the lad’s friends until the van arrives.
No more walking that night, and nobody to stand guard. But I have a hunch as to who it might be. I wonder if he's got a new leather jacket.