Tuesday, 25 February 2014

A day in the life of PCSO Maireadh Knight

Hello and welcome to my blog. Half-term is over, the dust has settled and it's just me, thee, and a cup of mint tea. Now, before I move onto the next "Day in the life of.." I'd like to share some good news. Following the BBC broadcast and publication of "What makes us human?" by Alison Lapper MBE and I, I've risen to the lofty heights of full membership of the Writers' Guild of Great Britain. So, no longer am I just an unpaid and unemployed writer. I'm an unemployed professional writer who is willing to work for free.
  Right, time for the next "Day in the life of.." This week it's a local resident and PCSO, Maireadh Knight.

PCSO Maireadh knight, 45, has been a Police Community Support Officer for over five years. She lives on the Beach with her husband, their two children and their West Highland Terrier, Oakley.

“Depending if I’m on an early, which is an 8 o’clock start, I get up with my family at about quarter to seven. Then it’s just the usual, get ready, get breakfast and take my youngest daughter to the train station. I drop her off and then I start work.
     I come into the Police Station and the first job I do is to get my kit out as we’re not allowed anywhere outside the station without a stab vest, a hat and a hi-vis. We need to log onto the system to say we’re on duty and check the incident logs. It's a police system that shares with us all the incidents that have gone on. So we need to look at anything that’s happened. It doesn't necessarily mean it’s going to be a job for me, but I need to know what incidents the police officers have attended on my patch because I may get asked by a member of the public, “What happened?” I also need to know if I’ve got vulnerable people that may have had an unpleasant experience, purse snatches or burglaries or garages breakages, or anything where they’re going to be upset. Then we have what’s called the TQ SAT, which is a list of jobs specifically for the local Community Support Officers. I will then have a look at my emails, and I might have some jobs that my Sergeant’s given me that aren’t apparent on any other system.
     You can’t have a typical day. Job won’t dictate it. You can have a typically planned day. So on a typically planned day, you go in, you look on the system, and you find out if there are any jobs on your patch. Human beings are so diverse you never know what you’re going to get asked to help with. I will then ring ahead hopefully to book an appointment with the informant and then get kitted up and walk off towards my patch to carry out foot patrol and do my job.
     I walk for 2 or 3 hours in the morning then I have lunch. I can turn up at the Beach School, which I often do, and go in and have lunch with the kids. Sometimes I just visit the dinner tables and encourage them to eat their potatoes and vegetables and stuff. I’m known as PCSO Marmalade, because my name, Maireadh, is not very easy to remember, and PCSO Knight is a bit of a mouth full, so the kids just called me Marmalade.
      I may go back to the Nick to eat. I may have to do some admin while I’m there. I’ll often have emails to pick up and if I’ve picked up some intelligence in the morning I’ll have to do an intelligence report to notify the relevant agencies of this information. I might do that for an hour and a half, and then I’ll be out again. I mostly walk for the whole day.
     The community is a fantastic source of intelligence and in many, many cases, they are very happy to talk to us. You always bear in mind, and I always remind people, that the vast majority of people, be they younger or older, are good, are great, people. It’s only a tiny minority that are committing crime and there’s very often a reason why they’re not behaving properly. It’s something to do with their background, their home life; that’s a common thread, a problem in the home.
     You used to have the Bobbies on the beat, but this ceased many years ago. It did leave a big hole in the community because there was no true connection with the Police. Police are just a resource that come to fix problems; you turn up, you deal, you take away, but you’re not fixing. 
It’s not about elastoplasts anymore. We’re trying to find the root causes of the problems,"Why did it happen?" Well, it happened because there was alcohol present, so we need to offer support regarding alcohol, or drugs or whatever the problem is. Or maybe people just don’t know how to parent. It doesn’t come with a rulebook, and some people find it easier than others, so maybe they’ve lost control of their children and they don’t know how to get it back for whatever reason.  
     We deal with a lot of neighbourhood disputes. If there’s a victim of domestic violence, we can make welfare visits. We can help. People sometimes say to me, “You’ve changed my life.” And you think, “Ok, that’s a bit dramatic,” but actually it’s only dramatic from my viewpoint because we’re doing this all the time. It’s very dramatic from theirs; talk to a victim of domestic violence who stops feeling like a victim because of our interaction with them.
     There’s too much negativity about our job because we don’t have the same level of powers as the Police Officers. Some people might say that what we do is a bit fluffy, but you’re not dealing with fluffy issues. So if someone’s not quite sure what a Community Officer does and I get the little comments of, “Plastic Police, and wannabe Police Officer,” I’m quite happy to stop and educate. When I have had a chat with them they say, “Oh. I didn’t realise you did all that.” Well I do and I don’t wannabe a police officer, I wannabe a Community Support Officer. I like this job. It’s about community involvement. I get to get involved and that’s what I want to do.
     On a typical day I’ve done say, an 8-5 or a 9-6, so I take myself off to bed, normally at about 10, read for half an hour or longer and then I’m out like a light. When I’m doing lates, I normally start at 2 and finish at midnight, well; I just come home and go to bed. If I’ve had a very lively night I'm just a little bit too switched on so I have to sit down and watch telly for an hour or so just to wind down a bit and then I go to bed.”

This blog first apppeared in November 2010.  At that time, Maireadh had taken up painting abstract and floral prints. Unlike me, she's received numerous paid commissions and her work was recently seen at the Real Patisserie, East Street, Shoreham.

Finally, good luck to all who entered the Strange Creatures competitions and Radio Two's 500 Words. I hope you do brilliantly.

Thanks for dropping by and see you next week. Ta-ra. 

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