I joined team who 'put fear to the back of their minds' to answer 999 calls

A general image of a Merseyside Police officer
-Credit: (Image: Merseyside Police)

12.15pm - four police officers pull up outside a bail hostel in Aigburth to arrest a man for breaching the conditions of his licence.

After spotting the suspect, who pulls his Under Armour cap lower to cover his face before turning and walking in the opposite direction, the officers swoop in and make the arrest. While transporting the man to the back of a caged van, an officer explains he was suspected of being involved in the supply of contraband while in prison.

He's moved into the van and taken onto a custody suite, from where he will later be moved back to prison. After just minutes on the street however, another call comes through and officers are dispatched to another incident, this time in the city centre. Flanked by the ECHO, who have joined Merseyside Police on a ride along to coincide with a week of action for response policing, the officers weave through the Strand traffic with the sirens blaring.

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1.25pm - The officers arrive at a block of student flats. Although the officers only just received the call, the incident in question happened two nights before. An officer emerges after five minutes holding a bag of items which will be taken into evidence. He says the report was filed after "eight young lads kicked their way through the security doors, hung around inside smoking vapes and making a mess".

2.03pm - Officers are blue-lighted back to Aigburth following a report that a man has threatened to drown himself. Officers have received information that the man has had a history of harming himself and police have been tasked with going in first to ensure it is safe for ambulance crews.

After arriving at the scene, a number of other police vehicles have already arrived at the scene - a supported living facility. Officers are already tending to the man and his support worker has spoken with him. An ambulance arrives at the scene shortly after once the all clear has been given.

2.47pm - Another emergency call has come in, this time that a suicidal male has occupied part of the Liverpool Central Library. An officer at the scene tells the ECHO the man has told people in the library he went to the Royal Liverpool Hospital earlier in the day but had been turned away and now felt like he had nowhere else to turn.

In a three hour period across south Liverpool and the city centre, the ECHO was offered an insight into the strain on the country's emergency services, but the vital work those on the front lines do on a daily basis. The first voice or face communities across Merseyside see when they are in crisis, the response officers face unpredictable situations on a daily basis that are often complex, confrontational and sometimes traumatic.

Between April 2023 and March this year Merseyside Police received nearly 733,000 calls. Over 300,000 of those were emergency calls, which usually require an immediate response given the possibility of an immediate threat to life. From those calls, officers have made 12,150 arrests and dealt with 8,565 mental health incidents.

The incidents they can respond to will range from someone being seriously injured or a person suffering with a mental health crisis, to dealing with someone in distress or a report of a high-risk missing person.

Police constable Sam Shaw was one of the first responders on the scene earlier this year, when gunman Leslie Garrett terrorised north Liverpool over a period of nine hours discharging an AK-47 twice - firstly in a newsagents and a second time outside the Showcase cinema. Speaking to the ECHO about life as a responder, he said: "It can be very difficult...I deal with different stuff every day.

"The incident at the Showcase will always stick in my memory. I was one of the first on the scene and we held the scene while there was a live firearm. It's one of those things we have to deal with so I went into it apprehensively but we were guided by the firearms officers there.

"You are scared but you put those emotions to the back of your mind and you think about the safety of the public. Hundreds of people were there and my sole priority was looking after them. You take it one day at a time. We make sure we do everything and then decompress and move on."

Today marks the beginning of the fourth annual national response policing week of action, where forces across the country draw attention to the work they do every day. The head of response and resolution at the force, Chief Superintendent Mark Wiggins, said: "I know from personal experience just how demanding the job is and as society has evolved, the role has become more complex.

"Officers in response teams never know what situations they will be faced with when they come into work each day. They routinely deal with some of the most challenging situations in society. The role is fast-paced and unpredictable and response officers are often the first to arrive to a scene and provide help and reassurance to those most vulnerable in times of crisis. They play a vital part in keeping our communities safe, safeguarding victims of crime and arresting and bringing offenders to justice."

Merseyside’s Police and Crime Commissioner Emily Spurrell said: "It’s vital we recognise and celebrate the bravery and hard work of our response officers through this week of action. Their determination to support our community in what can be the most difficult and challenging situations – situations which often put their own safety at risk to protect the welfare of others.

"I know the role can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining and that’s why the perseverance and determination of our officers shouldn’t go unnoticed – they really are at the heart of frontline policing and are absolutely vital in ensuring our communities are kept safe.

"I would like to thank all response officers for the amazing work they do day in day out. Their resilience and dedication to the job is inspiring and it’s so important that this is highlighted to give people a better understanding of what it’s like working on the frontline."

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