Over 28 years, mainly in front line policing, I very much enjoyed my job, where no day was like any other. You, (usually) had no idea what you would be expected to respond to from one day to another and I was fortunate to have worked with many talented, caring and professional officers and staff. (I also worked with/ for, a lot of officers and staff who quite frankly should never have been in the job). But, I suppose that is the same in all jobs!
Along with all the good times and positive outcomes, I also attended a fair share of incidents and scenes that were obviously very distressing to witness and be part of. (It comes with the territory )!! Most of these were dealt with and filed away at the appropriate time, allowing me to battle on to fight another day.
My Nemesis proved to be suicides by hanging, where I was the person who found the bodies. Most officers, at times in their careers will attend suicides found by others and then reported to police. You can prepare yourself somewhat, if you know what you are going to see. Finding the body yourself when you are looking for a missing person or attending a suspicious incident is not so common. Fortunately, in 28 years there was only 3 times when this happened to me. The first was fairly early on in my career when searching for a young man reported missing by his girlfriend the middle of the night. He had indicated to her that he was going to his place of work. We contacted his boss who took us to the industrial estate and unlocked the workshop. We had to walk through the workshop in the dark to get to the light switch. The motors of the industrial florescent lights clanged into action and as the lights flickered on over two or three seconds I saw the young male directly in front of me hanging from an electric winch.
Following this incident I was unable to, completely file it away, as whenever florescent lights came on, the noise of the motor and the flicker of the lights brought back that memory in an instant.
However, this was something that I just found myself being able to manage. It wasn’t that much of a problem that it affected my day to day living. I just got on with it, as probably did/ do many people in all walks of life.
However, in 2014 and 2015, I went to two further fairly traumatic incidents of suicide by hanging, where I found the bodies. I won’t go into the details of these, suffice to say they affected me sufficiently that I had some counselling provided by both the police and my GP. I carried on working throughout this.
I do not want or need sympathy for the above as I was able to manage the situation, firstly on my own and then with the help of excellent professional help.
My only point in telling you of the above is that over time, the stress of what some officers within West Mercia Police were doing to my family and I, started to take its toll. The pressure and scrutiny we were put under, along with the complete apparent lack of respect for our private and family life started to make my mental health issue, incredibly difficult to manage.
On 13th February 2017 I sent the following email to my sergeant.
My supervisors, occupational health and welfare officers were all aware of my ongoing health issues. Would someone now get to grips with what was going on and sort it out once and for all?