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Our Emergency Services and the Price of Kindness

Simon Kempton was a podcast guest that I quote often in my work. This episode was full of golden nuggets and is one I recommend for everyone to listen to, it stretches across every area of our lives. We talked about a lot in society and with 18 years in the police force, he has seen the journey. This episode was recorded in 2019 but it feels as relevant three years later as it did then. I wanted to ask about the effect kindness has had on Police, how easy is unkindness to police, is it possible to change society and what does the impact of budget cuts have on the ability to do the job. It was eye opening and Simon has a way with words.

I wanted to ask about the budget and what was really going on, as I know we can read so much in the media but it feels like so much is hidden as to the long term and short-term everyday effects of decisions made by government on behalf of the people. Here's an excerpt from my conversation:

Nahla Summers: There's this huge thing around the austerity and the effect that this has had on the police force and all the emergency services, but the police force in particular. Something that sticks with me is I can remember seeing something quite a few years ago that went out on to Sky when the riots in London were happening, and basically everyone had been pulled into London to deal with it. It looked like we had this huge police force, and it wasn't actually the case. However, the police representative shared on the TV that it was not the case and they had in fact been pulled in from all over. It was picked up on other news channels as the police representative was not meant to share that but he was leaving soon and had allegedly become tired of the lack of resources. Please do elaborate on that if you feel able to but you know, what effect does that have on the way that the police force can behave in a kindly manner? And listen to what people have got to say, how does that affect that?

Simon Kempton: You're right, since 2011, we mobilised approximately 15,000 police officers, most of whom went to London. Since then we've lost approximately 22,000 police officers. So we simply wouldn't be able to do that again, but obviously, the riots are extreme. Thankfully, they very rarely happen. What does happen every day though is police officers have to make really difficult decisions on where we can spend our time because there's not enough time.

I can remember, when I was in my last role in uniform, getting a 999 call from an elderly lady, she sounded distressed, and we didn't know what was happening. We went down there quickly. When we got there, this lady had just been left without any care because the private care company had not come. The lady just felt lonely and afraid. Myself and my fellow officer were able to spend 30/40 minutes there, we made her a hot water bottle and sat with her until she felt a little bit more secure. That was probably five or six years ago, maybe if that was to happen today, we simply wouldn't be able to stay with her, we'd have to leave if there's a crime not happening. We just have to refer to social services, hope they have the resources to get someone out quickly. Then we'd have to leave straightaway. Because we know somebody else needs our help right this minute because there's so many fewer of us. That gives the impression that police officers don't care and it's actually soul destroying for us because you join the police or emergency services to help. Same as paramedics and others. It's really difficult having to say to people, we can't come and help you because we have to go and do something that's a higher priority, not necessarily for you, but if someone's in the middle of being stabbed, that takes priority, or someone who's got a dispute with their neighbour. It's just that we have to prioritise more than we've ever done before. On top of all the other tragedies we see, the horrific things that you have to deal with as a police officer, can make you quite hard and more difficult to find the kindness and the happiness. Because if all you're doing day in day out, week in week out is dealing in tragedy, death and your family disintegrates in front of you and children being abused and god knows what else It can give you a different slant, you can almost end up thinking there is more kindness in the world.

Click below to read the full interview, it is eye opening and thought provoking and allows you to stand in the shoes of those that step up to protect and support us all.


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