Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Working to Keep Special Day Safe

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Working to Keep Special Day Safe

Article excerpt

Byline: By Jamie Diffley

While most of us are tucking into a home-cooked Christmas dinner tomorrow, spare a thought for those working on Christmas Day.

PC Andy Cassidy has worked over the festive season six times in his 11 years with Northumbria Police.

The dad-of-two once missed out on his own family day but still managed to spread joy to others on his beat. He played Santa to a boy, five, he came across, who was alone, crying and clutching a pounds 1 coin.

The tearful youngster said he had been told Father Christmas was too busy to call at his home and he had only received the coin.

PC Cassidy said: "This really got to me and I managed to get home to pick up one of my children's selection boxes to take back to this lad. That cheered him up."

PC Cassidy, a patrol officer in Bill Quay and Felling, spends the morning with his own children, five and eight, before going to work.

And he said working on Christmas Day is not as bad as it seems. "We all pull together," he explained. "On Christmas Day we have a parade as usual but it also includes talk about what the kids got ( it's more relaxed.

"People are a lot more cheerful on Christmas Day.

"There are, of course, the things you just don't expect which is the reason I love this job.

"One Christmas a colleague and I were called to a domestic incident at 9am after a man took exception to the fact there was a chicken and not a turkey for Christmas lunch and began smashing the house up."

Officers like PC Cassidy respond to the 999 calls but there also needs to be people to take them. That's where Julia Smith comes in.

Julia will be manning the phones at the Northumbria Police communications centre in South Tyneside, dealing with emergency calls.

For her 7am shift, Julia has to get up at 5.30am and works through until 3pm.

Calls are prioritised so the most important and urgent calls jump to the top of her computerised queue and are allocated to the nearest available officer.

Julia said: "Sometimes we send officers in cars or call out the helicopter to assist in searches. We can also call out the ambulance or fire service if necessary. …

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