A day on patrol: shoplifters, suicide and solicitors

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The Independent Online

A day in the life of PC Des Keenoy, 49, an experienced officer in the Metropolitan Police, stationed at Wandsworth in south London

1.30pm: Arrive 30 minutes early to read e-mails, personnel notices, orders and intelligence information on computer network. Have to arrive early because the system is so slow and complex.

2pm: Intelligence briefing ­ given details of suspects, suspect vehicles and people wanted for crimes.

2.20pm: Respond to an "I" or immediate emergency call. There are usually several already stacked up. Respond to report of a vulnerable patient from a psychiatric hospital who has gone missing.

2.40pm: Arrive at hospital, where have to fill in very complex missing person's form. Has to be done on paper because the computer systems are not compatible.

3.15pm: Finish filling in forms, but have to divert to another emergency call in which person is attempting suicide, standing on bridge.

3.25pm: Arrive at scene and find that a river boat and other police units are dealing with individual. Ensure person is safe and return to hospital.

3.40pm: Return to station to fax details of missing person to missing persons bureau.

4pm: Process forms for vulnerable person and speak to duty officer.

4.20pm: Contact police force where the missing person lives and get someone to contact relatives. Process forms while eating hot meal in canteen for 45 minutes.

6.55pm: Go out on car patrol. Very few go on foot patrol because there are not enough officers. Get two calls to deal with, one from victim of burglar and another reporting violent shoplifter in supermarket.

7.05pm: Arrive at store. Question suspect and store detectives. Contact control room to inform will not be able to deal with burglary victim.

7.35pm: Take suspect back to police station, but have to go to neighbouring custody suite because nearest stations are full.

7.55pm: Arrive and wait in queue to process prisoner.

8.10pm: Start processing prisoner, book them in and search them. Log details of evidence.

8.45pm: Call solicitor to question suspect. Process the case file, which has to be hand-written. Name and address have to be written 30 times because the computer system is not integrated.

10.15pm: Solicitor arrives. Interview suspect.

11pm: Finish shift. Have worked an hour overtime. Able to claim 30 minutes' overtime at one-and-a-third pay. To claim must send three e-mails and obtain two authorisations.