Saturday, 24 January 2009

How loud do you have to cry for help?

Picture the scene if you will,
it's a Friday morning in the spring at about 7 in the morning. I am in the parade room with the rest of the crew. The airwaves springs to life with the usual " a patrol please able to make to" a pause and then "oh my god, a patrol able to make to xxxxx cemetery, report of a female in the ground digging a grave up and there are chunks of wood coming out the ground".

Responding to this call with blue lights and everything, turn them off once inside in the grounds and after the caller has been phoned back directed to the right area of the cemetery. Sure enough there is a female in a hole in the ground with a shovel with bits of wood around her. How do we approach this one?

Casually stroll up to her and introduce ourselves. It transpires that the poor soul has recently had her 2 children taken from her due to mental health issues. We get that out of the way whilst she furiously continues digging. Eventually she pulls a plastic bag from the grave and shouts "I've got you back mum". Sideways glance at colleague and the reality of the situation dawns. Here we have a lonely female who's life has been turned upside down. She clutches the plastic bag and says that she is taking her mum back home where she belongs. There is nothing worse than taking remains from consecrated ground other than the issues of getting them back there. It is still one of the most serious offences that can be committed in the UK.

For 20 minutes we try and reason with this person about her actions but all to no effect. Once it has become apparent that speech alone won't work, action is required. Slowly approaching her we tell her that this can't happen. She instinctively ducks and backs against a nearby wall still clutching the bag of ashes. She turns away from us briefly and when she turns back she has a razor blade in her hand and starts slicing her arms and hands. She is urging her deceased mother to feel the warm blood and come back. My colleague gets close enough to her to try to stop this madness but is rewarded with a swipe and a slash to his left arm. I draw my baton and prepare to strike the arm holding the razor blade. I can't remember which it was. She huddles down continuing to hurt herself and it quickly becomes apparent the baton will be ineffective. In her confused state she has already injured my colleague and is still cutting herself. CS is drawn and a single burst sends her from her hunched position to the floor dropping the razor blade in the process. She is secured and the awaiting ambulance then approaches to administer help. The remains of her mum are secured in the chapel of rest awaiting re-internment. No really bad offences have taken place.

The female is subsequently sectioned under 136 and taken to hospital. The usual process follows, quite quickly this time as she is not drunk. The end result she is allowed to leave in the afternoon back to her empty house with the promise of a follow up visit from a CPN on the Monday. She is a different person on the journey home with bandages on her arms quietly apologising for all the trouble she has caused. She is dropped off at home and a quick evaluation of the house and her follows. The house is clean and tidy and the children's bedrooms are spotless but empty, as is her departed mother's. She has no family in the area and no friends she is close enough to with whom to talk. How bleak a weekend is she going to face?

I have sectioned many people but never in such upsetting situations as this. The crisis teams certainly have work cut out for them but I genuinely feel that in this situation they got it wrong.

The person in question later succeeded in taking her own life a month later and was found dead on her mother's grave. I know I did what I could to help her but the rest of the system stinks. How loud do you have to cry for help? The sad thing is I can't remember her name.

You couldn't make it up could you?


EX-PCSO said...

You won't remember her name,due to your workload probably, it's not important anyway. Sorry if that sounds harsh. The point is she was left to deteriorate to such a level that she finally succeeded in taking her own life, there is help out there but it appears that no-one will actually "help"

It's a shameful society that we live in these days, god help our kids...

Kind regards and congratulations on continuing with a career that is so thankless, but appreciated by some nevertheless.

Anonymous said...

"THEY should have done something to help her" - ever heard that? But who are THEY.

In a careing society, THEY are the people who know of her difficulties.

I don't know her so I could not have helped her. YOU did know her and saw here plight first hand. A good Samaritan would have gone round and seen that she was OK over the weekend.

Did you? Were you a good Samaritan or did you consider it not to be part of your job?

You COULD have helped her - how do you feel?


Constable said...

Anon 09:35,

Fair point, maybe it is the prick of conscience. I was off duty over the weekend and returned for nights on the Monday. I did not recall as she was supposed to then be under the care of a CPN.To be perfectly honest I would have been getting run ragged with other calls for service.
The point of the post is to highlight that this female was in a desperate situation on the Friday morning and at the hospital had access to help. This help was not forthcoming and she was allowed to return home.
As per the title of the post, how loud do you have to cry for help?

Anonymous said...

Came to your blog via the Inspector's.
Thought provoking post.
Keep up the good work - hang in there, your first million hits are just around the corner :-)
Take care

Annette said...

You don't have to feel bad about anything in this situation. You were there and you helped that young lady. Can you be sure she wasn't visited by anyone maybe on a weekly basis?
I'm sorry it happened that way but you have no cause to blame yourself.

Area Trace No Search said...

With you mate - but that's why we joined the job, isn't it?

Isn't it...?

Constable said...

of course that's why we joined the job but in this matter I can't really see how I made a difference. Oh well no change!

Still makes me wonder though how someone who clearly has serious problems can be discharged so easily after such an episode. Crisis teams obviously know what they are doing though, the final outcome proves that.

Cheers mate.