Sheffield police officer reveals the most common reason for call-outs on Christmas Day
For a Sheffield police officer working over Christmas is not just another shift. It needs compromise family sacrifice and an extra effort to focus on what needs to be done.
For the past three months Sgt Paul Robinson has been in charge of the small police team who stay on site at at Meadowhall.
The shops will shut early on Christmas Eve to re-open on Boxing Day which is one of the busiest shifts of the year for his team.
For the 37-year-old dad of two it will be the first Christmas Day he has spent at home with his family in his 14 years with the force.
Sgt Robinson knows all about what it is like to be on duty on the streets of Sheffield at Christmas.
On Christmas Eve the late shift will be be to provide a visible police presence outside the citys’ pubs and clubs dealing with the inevitable alcohol fuelled violence and vomiting.
Are the police tempted to join in with the fun and all the revelry?
“It depends on the environment,” he said.
“We are all human and sometimes the police do join in and have fun although we have to draw a line – we have to remember we are out to do a job and make sure everyone is safe.”
Christmas Day – when most places are closed and families settle down to watch the telly - has it’s own particular challenges and 999 calls.
Sgt Robinson said: “There are family fall outs – emotions get high maybe because of too much alcohol.
“It’s meant to be the happiest time of the year, but for some people they are having a hard time. It’s not necessarily a good time for everyone.”
It may appear quieter on the surface but Paul is very reticent to use the ‘Q’ word..
“You never know at Christmas what you will walk into.
“I was a firearms officer and we have been deployed on Christmas Day to deal with a murder.
“Four years ago there was a gang shooting.
“When it comes to family issues emotions are often high and at Christmas time people forget those emotions can be difficult to deal with.
“There are domestic issues and not necessarily husband on wife violence.
“It is just as likely to be brother on brother – old issues that come to the fore . Families have perhaps not spoken for months, people have a few drinks and a lot to eat. You have had all the build up to Christmas and then suddenly it’s all gone.
“Ultimately they have called us and there is always the expectation it should be left alone after we call because it is Christmas
“We are duty bound to make sure people are safe before we leave .
“If that means some one has to be arrested some times unfortunately that has to happen.
Boxing Day is an extremely busy time for th epolice . Everywhere is back open. It will be extremely busy at Meadowhall with the sales on.
Shoppers can expect to see Paul’s armed police team patrolling at Meadowhall . “We’re not here to cause alarm, we are there to keep people safe,” he said.
“People should feel free to say Hi – we are happy to talk to them.”
“It is a time of very high demand for the police and we still have all the other incidents to deal with – the domestic incidents and shoplifters, the assaults and accidents.
“We have to deal with a lot of mental health issues, people can go missing.”
He says the hardest part of Christmas is having to compensate from being away from his own family.
“It is hard when you have to leave your own kids at home. I have two boys and we have had to adapt.
“In the past we have had to celebrate Christmas a few days early on the run up so they are not missing out on anything.
“It’s not just the guys and girls on the ground it’s their families who have to make it work.”
With smaller teams the thin blue line is stretched these days and more people are expected to work over the Christmas period.
There is little opportunity to have an office ‘do’ when shifts, between eight and 12 hours, change over.
Paul adds: “In the past we have brought turkey butties and tried to have a bit of a Christmas dinner if there are no jobs, but sometimes the best laid plans come to nought.
“More often than not we are busy
“And at this time of year at the end of the shift you just want to get back to your family.”
He has simple Christmas message for everyone.
“Just be nice to each other and remember it’s the season of goodwill.”