The PPO team have been operating in Derby since a trial in 2017 and have increased in number to 20, with an assigned officer for every ward in the city. The team were previously focussed on enforcement – tackling low level anti-social behaviour and environmental crimes such as fly-tipping.
This has however changed during the last few months. Jordan said: “Since Covid we took on a different role and moved away from enforcement and more into helping people. We’ve been a key part of the Community Hub, liaising with the public and partner agencies to help our most vulnerable residents.
“Each week we were given a high priority check list of people to visit. These were amongst the most vulnerable people who we hadn’t been able to reach any other way. As we have advanced medical training, we were sent in case they were in need of medical help and couldn’t let anyone know.”
The team were also busy assisting across the city, helping to maintain lockdown. “We had to help police social gatherings that were happening in parks, golf courses, in the city centre and house parties,” said Jordan.
“We were working different shifts to be able to provide as much cover time wise as we could muster. At one point myself and others worked 12 days without a day off to be able to provide that cover to the city.”
Jordan says a real high point has been seeing how his team has flourished through really difficult circumstances, working as one unit and supporting each other.
Like several of the team, Jordan has a young family. He added: “We have a drive and determination to help others so we’ve made certain home sacrifices to be able to keep working.
“The lows have echoed the highs, we’ve had to spend time away from family while we were working, and in some cases stay away from family when at home, to be safe. I had two children and a pregnant wife at home during all this and was having to ‘decontaminate’ when getting in before I could even spend time with them.”
One incident in particular brought home the challenges and emotional pressure of the job.
“There was one night where we were dealing with a number of house parties,” said Jordan. “At one, they were very aggressive and so we spent a long time there and ended up missing another party that sadly become a house fire.”
Jordan says that despite these incidents his experience was that the vast majority of the public have been and still are adhering to the guidance and paying attention.
“It’s just a small minority that refused to help the rest of us. We found ourselves dealing with the same faces and addresses day in, day out.”
As things start to return to some sort of normality, the team is finding itself more involved in its ‘day to day’ work. Jordan said: “As shops are starting to open and things creep back to normal, anti-social behaviour has started to reappear slowly and footfall is increasing.
“We’ve also found ourselves having to police the queuing systems as tempers become flared with people waiting, and just being a general presence in the city to help keep calm in an ever evolving situation.”
Finally, Jordan says: “As a team, we just hope we managed to help even a few people and make their lives better during this difficult time, and we thank you especially for the kind words and drinks while we were out and about!”