Two highly emotive words – instantly recognisable to police officers everywhere.
It’s a distress call.
It’s the distress call: the one radio transmission guaranteed to cut through the relentless background noise – to prompt any Copper within travelling distance (and some much further away) to drop whatever they’re doing and get to a colleague in trouble as fast as they can.
It’s a very powerful thing.
Earlier today, I posted a simple Tweet:
That’s when the responses from police officers & staff – both serving and retired – started to come in. They offer an extraordinary insight into the working lives of the women & men who stand on the Thin Blue Line.
Here’s what they wrote:
@Supt_IanDS: almost 20 yrs ago, but recall it like it was yesterday!
@BriW74: 13 years ago at Charing Cross railway station. A rather large man had me on the floor and was using my head as a football.
@GrumblingCop: Man swinging sock with snooker ball in it at my head. Rather old-school weapon.
@WYP_1999HARMAN: The noise the radio makes still gives me shivers.
@BostinLad: Wrestling with a drunk male armed with a knife outside a nightclub, being egged on by a crowd of his drunk mates.
@JAJcCPA: Two youngsters upstairs. Angry father at front door coming at us with chainsaw. Sunny afternoon in posh part of Brixton!
@Dan_M6PBX: I still remember hearing it as a controller for the first time, feeling helpless waiting for an update… Trying to get people there yesterday.
@KelvinJRobbins: To the front office at Holborn Police Station, to a man battering his way through the glass partition with a destroyed chair.
@JulietBravo41: Chap with knife, Old Kent Road – in my probation on foot patrol.
@locky_loxton: Holding onto female rape victim who just jumped off roof of Tower block in W2. Had her by belt dangling 100ft up.
@StapleRun: 1 – male with knife, safely held ‘til heroes arrived! 2 – monster man, on my own again, struggled whilst 4 people watched.
@from_Paddington: Angel Town Estate, Brixton. Attacked by two families & kicked to the floor. Flying rugby tackle by L3 operator saved me.
@InspProvart: being throttled, pinned on the floor, detaining wanted man. No help nearby. Sirens approaching – wow that will stay with me.
@Mach2Jesse: Fresh off street duties, on my own on foot patrol, fighting with a crack dealer in Inverness Street, NW1. Hostile crowd.
@sgt_clare1734: 4 suspects, 1 with a baseball bat and 4 officers, after a long foot chase, back up 20 minutes away, felt like an eternity.
@CSCraigNaylor: A long time ago. Single crewed at mental health breakdown resulting in titanium pin to keep little finger together.
@welshsquizz: High St, fighting with a guy who damaged the police car, rolling around in middle of live traffic having been CS’d by my mate.
@mikejamessnell: 1st serial on scene to Lambeth ‘scumoween’ disorder. Petrol bombs/fire extinguishers launched at L3 officers from LFB HQ.
@PolicePEditor: Being shoved over railings on 2nd floor balcony, wonderful seeing car after car pull up while hanging on to washing line.
@coppersday: Footchase. Suspect with knife. Wrestled to floor, held in headlock. Passersby tried to help him! Longest 17 mins of my life.
@WYP_SBarberini: Me & PC, 1 very violent wanted male & 100+ youths. Resulted in us on the floor surrounded, getting a kicking. PC needed surgery.
@DIRobStaples: Bitten twice, head butted, bleeding, lost, being thrown around like a rag doll with no comms. The public summonsed our help.
@deltapapa11: Outnumbered in Soho, a Friday night on single patrol, tried to break up a fight, took an absolute shoeing, split side of my head/ ear open.
@RiddlezMeThis: Having a roll around in the middle of the night with a top 5 gang nominal on my own. He sprained my ankle in the process and I still had to cuff him and detain another.
@AgedBobby: Footchase, handgun levelled three times and once arrested, gaffer says ‘Don’t boot the arse out of the overtime’. #welfare
@Rick_Mosley: In a fight, shouted for assistance. My ear piece fell out. They didn’t know where I was. A PCSO found me and got back up.
@tonyoram: As 19-year-old probationer on patrol in Tulse Hill in 1988. Lured into a garage area and ambushed. Had the beating of a lifetime.
@InspBrettell: 13yrs ago attacked on bank holiday weekend. Still suffering and having surgery as a result now.
@iofiv: Middleweight boxer. Just ko’d his girlfriend. Got one cuff on then trying to stop him lining me up. Help round corner. First attended: male trying to smash a female SCs head through a plate glass window. Stopped him.
@TheGilchrist: Single crewed, man comes at me with a 2 foot saw. Radio-no coverage. MoP calls 999 for me. Never been so glad to see blue!
@GrrlCop: Bystander on the radio pleading for help for 2 fallen brothers. Almost at 10 yr mark but I feel it just as strongly today.
@MentalHealthCop: I arrested a shopkeeper for stealing bread baskets! He was using them to display fruit and refused to give them back to the bakery guy. When I told him he’d be arrested he threw his fruit all over the main road and buses were swerving round the mangos and guavas. Then he fought and we ended up rolling about in the gutter. Calvary were most welcome!
@catfromgreece: I remember getting to one and not being able to find the officers. Nothing on the radio. Dreadful 5 minutes til we did.
@SuptMatShaer: Bloke armed with a knife suffering a MH crisis stabbing at cars and houses, in a village miles from anywhere.
@Rick_Mosely: No matter what you are doing, the second that shout goes out everyone stops and runs towards it. #policefamily
@ChInsp_JimTyner: 1992, rural Lincolnshire, burglar disturbed who didn’t want to be arrested…help was 20 minutes away…
@MichaelFowler10: Turned up to a domestic with the Guv. 1 nicked & it all kicked off. Also my first proper taste of CS. Thanks Guv.
@TheBigHon: Leicester Square, Friday Night Shift, Single Patrol, fight outside Burger King.
@earlyyearscop: Colleague getting strangled. I was two days in. Pressed my button, remembered location & then floored the guy (a reasonable force flooring).
@ChSuptMcInulty: Chased wanted man through woods. Caught him, momentum took us both into river. OK, it was a deep stream. Both soaked through.
@YuglasDung: A Friday AM in Earls Ct – cornered in a hallway in a hostel with nowhere to go. Built like a BSH, 4 baton strikes. No effect.
@CathieJLawson: The canteen at CX emptying and a crowd of PCs running down Villiers St to Embankment tube ….
@WecopsCaroline: I remember my colleague being punched in the face – button pressed, jumped on him, first fight of my life. 19 yrs old!
@DannoReynolds: The entire control room holds collective breath every time an assistance alarm goes off. I want to run out to help… #FIM
@west_response: Male covered in blood swinging a carving knife into a crowd.
@PFM1972: One of those “can you just” calls… Quiet Sat early shift.. Assaulted after trying to arrest male. My 1992 radio was useless.
@ChairWarkPolFed: attacked at domestic incident by man with knife. 1st day of my new posting. My saviour was a police dog that entered the house to help me.
@burnett_kim: Male attacked me and crew mate. I was knocked unconscious and had lanyard put round my neck till I came round to hit emergency button.
@SgtColinShead: And I’ve still got the knife mark to remind me. Never saw it coming.
@PolicemansLot: The sound of those sirens approaching was the single best sound I’ve ever heard.
@WYPDeeCollins: I still have a scar on the back of my left hand from being bitten during an arrest 29 years ago!
@MikeMacaroon: Off duty and off work after an operation. A bloke was getting robbed on Kentish Town Rd/Royal College St.
@ScotPoliceSupts: ‘Concern For’ job. Male armed with machete. Old radios and not sure msg received by control. So glad to see my colleagues!
@garys18285: getting my eyes pushed back into my head by a guy twice my size alone. The sound of sirens is amazing!
@m2mp_out: 4 years ago, a body builder coked up in Camden, raining punches down on me. Thankfully I covered my head! £100 fine…
@DCS_SimonParkes: Huge pub fight in Southend spilled out and drove us back into the sea. Know you’re in trouble when dog units shout for help.
@urbancop: Two months into the job, frozen on the spot, the shotgun pointing at me. The relief as I heard the sirens getting louder and closer.
@NIckDowningMPS: Rye Lane, New Year’s Eve, Insp bottled & unconscious, trying to protect him from baying mob whilst trying to keep hold of suspect.
@PCSmith93: Two weeks in the job male comes to a domestic armed with a knife. No taser, no CS. It was one long wait for back-up!
@patrolcop: After a Fail to Stop, drunk & drugged driver fighting me & colleague in pitch black. CS didn’t work, ran off. Located by air ops.
@Scraggsy: Probationer colleague and I just broken up a fight, both had one each in handcuffs. 3rd came towards me wielding knife…
@RichKen2006: 12 youths attacked 2 in a park right in front of me, then turned on me. Baton drawn, 2 strikes…
@xam459: No memory of mine. Alone on shift in a market town, attacked by a group of 10. Unconscious when help arrived 25 mins later.1978.
@PhilDolbyWMP: On my own against a kebab shop full of drunken people, getting punched and kicked whilst defending serious assault victim.
@suptalunmorgan: Returning football supporters to a train station when rivals arrived – never been so grateful to hear mounted officers!
@K_v_nM: 1st few days on solo foot patrol in @SkemPolice drunk male ripped drain pipe off building & wanted to wrap round my head.
@WYP_IanWilliams: Me +12 holding line at BNP Bookshop march v 300 throwing house bricks for 10 mins. Could sense India99 & knew it was coming.
@dykesy1: Seeing my crew mate being strangled on a driveway even after we sprayed male. Baton to shoulder of offender to release.
@KobainUK: I remember it well. Single crewed a a group of no less than 20 fighting. I took a deep breath and waded in.
@jonsparta: Man sets himself on fire, drags me into a room laced with petrol. I used my baton to break free & get him to the floor. Saved by my mate who found a fire extinguisher. What a night.
@Ed8710: A pub full running out to open the car doors and release a prisoner… and then surround us with an injured officer on floor.
@manxboy: Woman tried to burn me to death.
@D_H1ll: Being attacked outside London pub. Recall people being pulled off me and a sea of blues. Dental problems still exist 23 years on.
@JoeJones1974: Chased a burglary suspect over several streets & garden fences, ended up catching him but he really didn’t want to come in.
@NathanConstable: Went to deal with a completely separate incident when an angry man came at me with a bike chain.
@gymfitnessuk: Feb 2001. Like it was yesterday.
@WYP_AidyWaugh: Me and colleague picked up by patient in MH hospital lift. One on each arm. Thrown around like rag dolls. Terrifying.
@Fergy5Rf: The sound a radio makes when a colleague hits their panic button is truly horrible.
@gkd000: Surrounded by 8 family members at a domestic. Single crewed. They turned on me instead of each other. 1st but not last!
@lizmead867: Man threatening to stab me with a carving knife in Luton, 1990. My protection was a female truncheon, a handbag & negotiation.
@SgtHarrisonWMP: Arresting a male on my own & being set on by his mates. I was kicked to the floor. MOP had his jaw broken helping me.
@smart86y: 20 mins into 1st shift as a sc. Separated from my colleague. Knife held to my throat. Never been so scared.
@MardySarge: Radio came off while getting pummelled by disqual/recall male. I just managed to hit the button – CCTV picked us up though.
@Rob_Flan: Don’t mind admitting – I still remember my first death/murder as a new recruit… Called for assistance, then called my mum.
@OakhamPolice: I think my first was in Melton where a chap who was much bigger than me on drink and drugs just shrugged me off and turned on me.
@MedsManPharm: I remember my husband telling me about his first call… Him & a colleague trying to restrain 2 guys going at them with knives.
@thefrontline1: First shift. Slough. Midnight. Guy so high he smashed his way out of the Vivaro Perspex. Had my crew mate by the throat.
@OfficerJxn: Single crewed, intervening to break up a fight involving 12 men. Emptied full can of CS at all of them.12 mins for back up.
@LPValentine: 2004, single crewed, the knife glanced off plates and embedded in vest cover. Member of public just watched.
@Pete_mcandie: First night in job. guy ran at me w/scissors, trying to stab. Didn’t hold button long enough. Thankfully old sweat with me knew what to do!
@T_ACCBedsPolice: For me, Section 18 search that went wrong, Packington Estate Islington 1993.
@CDINspRichard: Had my hand broken and nose burst by a violent drunk at a domestic incident as a young PC. Still locked him up though.
@WYP_TimKingsman: For me losing in a large fight outside pub in Keighley 26 years ago. Never been as glad to see colleagues come and rescue me!
@colinsutton: Saw large man beating girlfriend. Intervened & they turned on me. Foot chase elsewhere blocked radio, rescued by ND CID.
@SgtJDS: Arresting a chap outside a nightclub during which he broke my nose. Despite blood, snot + tears I still hung onto him, but stung like hell!
@AyrshireSpeaker: First night as a sergeant in Castlemilk, Glasgow. Opened a bedroom door at a domestic and chap has a pick axe above his head…
@simonalborn: 10 mins into 7am shift. In kitchen of suspect fighting him. He pulls huge knife out of drawer. Can still hear the whoosh past my ear. That was 23 years ago – so no vest / baton / spray. Very pleased to see back door of house came off hinges as shift arrived.
@EssexChiefInsp: For me, disarming GBH suspect who pulled handgun upon arrest. Barrel by my face. 2002. Pre Airwave. A short, but violent struggle ensued…
@DIRobHuddleston: June 2008. Traffic stop. Sawn off shotgun pointed at my head and fired. With me like it was yesterday.
These are the kind of people I serve alongside. Bloody hell, I’m proud of them.
Next time you see a police officer, thank them for what they do…