Boys in Mind Meets...
An Interview with Sam Hodson:
By: Kit Cooper-Harrison
I’m Sam Hodson, I’m a police officer. I have been a PC [Police Constable] for around five and a half years, mainly in Bath. I am a response officer so I respond to 999 calls and also investigate some crimes. I got to the end of university and being a police officer was the only career that stuck in my mind. Avon and Somerset Police were recruiting call handlers at the time, so I applied as a way of getting operational experience and to give me a good foundation for understanding the role of a police officer. Call handlers answer 999 and 101 calls so it’s a very demanding role but a really good one. After 2 years as a call handler I successfully applied to become a police officer.
I love the fact that I am not working in an office. I get to work in one of the most beautiful cities in the country and get to get out and about and meet all sorts of people from all walks of life. Bath has some very deprived areas as well as some very wealthy ones, and this makes for a very interesting dynamic from a policing point of view. I love the social aspect of the role, talking to people and communicating. A big part of the motivation for doing the role is helping people and catching a few bad guys as well! There is a bit of adrenaline sometimes which is great. Every day as a police officer is different.
As response officers, we are often the first ones on the scene at all sorts of incidents. We deal with such a broad array of things, whether that’s low-level crimes through to serious crimes such as domestic violence, sexual violence, and serious assaults. We have a night-time economy in Bath too, so we are also responsible for dealing with the challenges that presents. A massive part of our role, particularly at the moment, involves people suffering with mental health issues. We often go to assist ambulances because people may be harming themselves, so we go down with the ambulance staff to make sure they are safe. Often these people are at their lowest point, so it can be quite emotionally draining, but I get a lot of satisfaction in helping people through that point in their lives.
Our organisation is becoming much more aware of the mental health of police officers and the rest of its staff. We have various support structures in place, but I think the biggest support structure is our team. We cannot always talk openly with partners about this stuff because a lot of it is confidential, and police officers are historically quite bad at opening up, and I’ve often heard the analogy of “putting it in a box” when we deal with traumatic incidents such as road traffic collisions. Both organisationally and personally though, we have to recognize that these kinds of traumatic events are going to have an impact on our wellbeing. It’s also going to have an impact on our performance and ability to make decisions under pressure if we don’t address our own mental health. It’s about being open about the way we feel, so that we can pre-empt any real spikes or lows.
Recently, a lot of our day to day work has been diverted away from us because we are trying to limit the amount of face-to-face contact we have with people. As such, more is being dealt with over the phone. If there is an emergency, we will always attend. We’re trying to protect ourselves and the public so we can continue to perform our roles without having to be isolated. It has allowed us a bit more time to be more proactive in terms of stopping cars and people, which is good. It has been eerily quiet in the city centre. Working on Friday and Saturday nights, when you expect the town to be jumping with stag and hen parties but there isn’t anyone around, is very strange. People generally know that they are not doing the right thing by being out and about and have been staying at home.