Reporter Emma Downey spends a day in the life of a Lancashire Police Roads officer including M6 speed chase
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Reporter Emma Downey was invited to see what the role of a Lancashire Police Roads officer entails. Let's just say she now thinks it's not for the faint hearted!
Well I've never been in a police car before – especially not one careering down the motorway at 140 mph as a high speed chase to catch a criminal ensues.
However, this is exactly where I found myself yesterday having spent a day in the life Lancashire police officer.
While some members of the public assume police sit in their cars eating doughnuts all day, giving them a hard time and telling them to go out and catch murderers and ‘real’ criminals, when I got invited to spend the day with different officers to see what they do I jumped at the chance.
Needless to say, there is no time to eat a mere bite of a sugar glazed treat as stakeouts, drug busts and high speed motorway chases are all crammed into a hectic day’s work for them which I am told is the norm.
The roads policing department underwent a major re-model in June which resulted in the creation of two new teams – the Roads Crime Team which has been set up to tackle offences such as drug-couriering, money laundering and human trafficking and other serious offences where the road network may be used.
The second is the Roads Policing Unit (RPU), which is dedicated to patrolling Lancashire’s roads and dealing with ‘fatal five’ offences such as speeding and drink or drug-driving, as well as attending scenes of serious and fatal collisions.
Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden said: "The message is clear, if you're a criminal using the roads, or you recklessly put yourself or others at risk, whether on our motorways, town, or country roads, you'll be stopped and feel the full force of the law."
After an initial briefing I am placed in a police car for a drive around town with one of the officers. We pull up on the side stretch of a road and look for vehicles to stop and search and breathalyse incase they may be under the influence of drugs or drink.
After stopping a car with one taillight out, he informs me: “I usually look for cars with wear and tear to stop – something that feels off.
"In regards doing a breathalyser test, if the person is over 35 microgrammes of alcohol in their system I will arrest them and take them to the station.
"Everyone is different but I take no chances as by the time they arrive at he station it can rise.”
I ask him how he manages to switch off from a heavy shift of catching criminals and he tells me that at the end of his shift he places his uniform in his locker and goes home to his wife and cats.
I am then brought into one of the bases and shown into a room where a large sum of money retrieved from drug proceeds is spread out like a deck of cards in front of me. At the other end of the room lies two bags of weed which has also been recovered. An unflinching Laura Hesketh who is the evidence related property team leader for the South Division lays out shot guns, a large hammer and a crossbow in front of me which are just some of the many items that have been seized.
‘You never know what you are going to be dealing with as no two days are the same’
She said: "We also seized a quarter of a millions pounds on Monday. We cover Preston, Leyland, Chorley and Skelmersdale.
"All the exhibits are stored at Preston and we are currently dealing with over 45,000. There are three main areas such as high risk items including cash drugs and fire arms. You never know what you are going to be dealing with as no two days are the same.”
Is she not afraid of a firearm going off when she picks it up? “They have a green made safe label placed on them before we can handle them.”
After a slight break and I am back in a police car with a gent nicknamed ‘Ducky’. We follow a few other police vehicles into an estate where a van is stopped on suspicion of carrying drugs on the basis of a public informaion tip off. After 15 minutes the person is let go after nothing was found.
Next up we drive to a motorway respite area and are sat stationary waiting patiently for a vehicle to pass by to chase after a tip off which has just been received on the radio.
However, after 20 minutes or so they suspect in question has passed by undetected and so we drive a little before pulling up at a resting place so the officer and another can take a quick five minute coffee break.
Before they have even finished they are radioed that the suspect is on the move and, no sooner have I blinked, and we are off once again driving at 140mph speed down the motorway trying to catch them.
What I have found from my training day with the police is that their job is not for the faint-hearted, it is long and gruelling hours where a break is a mere thought most days - that and I don’t like travelling in cars at speed without gripping onto something for dear life.
It takes a special person to do it and I am now even more in awe of what they have to do to keep us safe.