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Celebrating officers who respond in emergencies

This week is national Response Policing Week and we’re proud to celebrate the hard work, dedication and bravery of police officers who respond to emergency (999) and non-emergency (101) calls from members of the public, day and night. 

The work of a response officer is unpredictable. They attend work each day never knowing what their shifts will involve or the demands they will face in the line of duty.

Each day will deliver a multitude of different challenges. Response officers are usually first to respond to danger, the first to confront criminals, and may be the first officers’ victims encounter, often in the darkest time of their lives.

Response officers regularly put themselves at risk for the safety of other people – both on and off duty.

In the last 12 months, our response officers have attended 124,067 calls. 

Of these, 81,724 demanded immediate response. 

As a result, they made 25,126 arrests.

What do response officers do?

Each shift, response officers will be briefed on what’s happening in their area and be given latest intelligence, so they know what they are looking for when they go out on patrol. 

As call takers receive 999 and 101 calls from the public, despatchers will alert response officers to jobs they need to attend.

Some will need an immediate response, due to the potential threat of harm or danger to life or because a crime is in progress. Burglaries or robberies in progress, domestic violence situations, concerns for welfare, a street fight or someone causing a disturbance are just a few examples of the broad range of incidents that response officers may be sent to.  Arriving at a scene, officers may find themselves working in partnership with other agencies, such as fire and ambulance.

Once on the scene of an incident, response officers will conduct initial investigations and gather evidence. One of their most important roles is to be the first contact for victims listening to their experience (which is likely to be at the heart of any resulting case) and providing empathy, understanding and patience to get to the heart of what’s taken place.

Response officers may arrest suspects and put in place measures to protect vulnerable people.  Following an arrest, they will accompany the suspect to custody and complete a handover for their detention.

When not on patrol or responding to calls from the public, officers will further investigations around incidents they have previously responded to, building case files, and preparing for upcoming court cases at which they will give testimony. 

Response officers may undergo a range of additional training– from advanced driver training to becoming part of a police support unit (PSU) and dealing with crowd control and public order – to enhance their skills and enable them to attend an even broader spectrum of situations.

What’s it like to be a response officer?

Chris is a response officer in Taunton.  He says: “The job is very dynamic. I’d previously worked behind a desk but liked the idea of boots on the ground, getting out and engaging with people in the communities around us.  We’re often the first on the scene – whether it’s something serious or minor – and have the ability to make quick decisions.  We also have that first interaction with victims, which will help us lead them to the right people to give them the right support.”

PC Abbiegale, who is based at Patchway Police Centre in Bristol, agrees; “It’s the best job in the world as far as I’m concerned. I was four years old when I decided I wanted to do this for a living and I’m now 27. We do this job because we’re passionate about wanting to help people. We’re here to support and protect the public – and that’s what we love doing.”

PC Erin, also based at Patchway, has only been in response policing for three weeks, but during her period of tutorship has already been involved in a wide range of jobs including thefts, domestic violence incidents and pursuits. “It’s been very exciting and really good talking to a wide range of people from lots of different backgrounds.” she says.

Dedication and professionalism

Assistant Chief Constable Jon Cummins, our Chief Officer for Response Policing, said: “Response Policing Week is an opportunity for us all to recognise and salute the incredible dedication and professionalism response officers bring to their role every day. 

“Their frontline work is crucial to maintaining public safety and trust in Avon and Somerset Police and they run towards situations most people would want to run away from.

“I hope that during this week in particular we can all take a moment to appreciate the incredible sacrifices they make to protect our wellbeing.”