Constable Andy Cunningham gives Ulster Star readers insight into his job with Lisburn police
by MARY MAGEE
Constable Andy Cunningham of Lisburn Neighbourhood team with Jackie Mitchell Chairman of the Pond Park Residents Association and Mark Walton Area Housing Officer Oaklee Housing.
DEALING with anti-social behaviour, reassuring victims of crime, talking to residents and accompanying prisoners to court are just a few of the many roles that of local policeman Constable Andy Cunningham
The 35-year-old joined the PSNI seven years ago and based at Lisburn for the past 18 months. Andy is the first member of his family to join the police and is a member of the PSNI Athletics Association.
He is currently with the Neighbourhood Police Beat Officer for the Antrim Road/Pond Park Road, Harmony Hill and Lambeg areas.
Monday October 10
Andy has given us an insight as to what life as a policeman with the Neighbourhood Policing team in Lisburn is like
My shift today is (0800-1800). First thing I'll be doing is going to a suicide task group meeting. Some areas of the Lisburn policing area have been very badly hit with spates of suicides, particularly with young people. We are working hard with other local organisations like the council and Horizon to see what we can do to help those who are most at risk.
1pm - I'm carrying out an anti-burglary foot patrol this afternoon with my colleague. We'll target 'hotspots' and check on vacant properties. People have recently been contacting us with concerns about teenagers gathering at unoccupied houses in the Antrim Road area annoying residents.
4pm - During the anti-burglary patrol I called with a woman who was burgled yesterday. When we spoke yesterday she was understandably upset and a little bit scared so I wanted to give her some reassurance and let her know that police were about her area.
6pm - On my way to a meeting with the council to discuss what can be done about the empty houses on the Antrim Road to stop teenagers hanging around them.
Tuesday, October 11
8am - Heading straight to a meeting of the ASBO Forum where a number of issues and individuals were discussed. A number of repeat offenders will have their tenancy revoked by NIHE and four others will receive warning letters from police.
9.30am - Foot patrol with a colleague. Focused today on Pond Park Road, Antrim Road and Magheralave Road). Spoke with a few local people. I really enjoy getting out and about (even if it is in the rain!) and getting a bit of banter with people of Lisburn. It's one of the best things about my job.
12pm - Visited a building site close to the Rathvarna estate with residents and the building contractor. Local people are concerned about children gaining access to the site and potentially injuring themselves. We want to see if there is anything we can do to stop this before someone gets hurt.
3pm - Met with the Harmony Hill Residents Association, local councillors, politicians and organisations - such as the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Harmony Hill Church. This was a meeting which we discussed local issues affecting the community and police. During this meeting we all discussed areas in which we could solve the problems in the area.
4pm - Received a call on my Blackberry from a resident of the Antrim Road telling me about young people who were currently trying to enter one of the vacant houses. I made my way to the Antrim Road and spoke to a few young people who were hanging about (not committing any offence at that time). I made them aware of the consequences of attempting to enter any of the houses and urged them not to make a nuisance of themselves by bothering local people. The teenagers listened and said they had taken on board what I said. Time will tell.
4.30pm - After speaking to the teenagers I was making my way along the Antrim Road when I noticed two other youths hanging about one of the houses. I approached them and discovered they were inhaling aerosols. This is unbelievably dangerous and has killed people in the past. I brought them home and spoke with their parents and warned them of the dangers. Their parents seemed very grateful for the intervention and advice. It is always very good when parents are receptive and listen to what you have to say. Unfortunately not all are. We will also make a referral for both of them to our Youth Diversion Officer.
Wednesday October 12
8am - Early foot patrol of the city centre. The rain is not so bad today so that is good. Talked to a number of the shop owners. Some are concerned that large groups of teenagers might be shoplifting before and after school. I will take that information back to my inspector.
10am-12.30pm - I held a surgery in the Pond Park estate offering
advice to local residents and
allowing them to raise any issues or concerns they have directly with police. It was very well attended. We had carried out a leaflet drop the previous week letting people know about the surgery.
4pm - Responded to a call regarding antisocial behaviour in Tonagh. No one about when we arrived however we spoke to a couple of residents and gave them my Blackberry number so they can contact me directly if they have any further issues.
5.05pm - Just finishing up my paperwork before I go onto two rest days (days off). There are a few things I will need someone to take care of in my absence. My colleagues in the NPT are brilliant at helping out when you need them. I'll be keeping the Blackberry switched on though in case they need anything from me.
Saturday October 15
Starting my weekend late shifts 1400-0000. First item on this evening's agenda is visiting the family of a 15-year old-girl who has left home without her parent's permission. This wouldn't be a missing persons case at present but is a 'concern for safety'.
6pm - Spoke to the young girl's parents. They told me that there was
a bit of a 'falling out' earlier and 'Amy' (not her real name) left the
house and hasn't come back. They called police because she's not
answering her mobile and they are worried. We got a list of the girl's
the areas she usually likes to hang out from her mum so we'll work our way through those and hopefully she'll turn up.
7pm - Located Amy' at a friend's house. Brought her home and had a wee chat with her to let her know how much worry she had caused her parents. She says she is sorry and was just in a bad mood after an argument at home.
7.30pm - Next order of business is a high visibility patrol in the city centre. It is important people know that police are about on a Saturday evening. With people socialising and drinking sometimes silly fights can start due to drink and can escalate into something serious. If people see us out and about they might think twice about throwing a foolish punch. If trouble does start we can often step in and sort it before it gets out of hand.
10pm - Carried out bail checks on two of our repeat offenders (making sure they are keeping to the conditions of their bail, curfews etc.). All present and correct.
11pm - We will be carrying out vehicle check points across Lisburn for the remainder of our shift. We are keeping our focus on anti-burglary stops so we are especially looking for suspicious vehicles. We are also always mindful of our own personal security when carrying out duties like this after dark.
(0000) - Off home for some much needed sleep!
Sunday October 16
(1400) - Commenced duty.
3pm - On pedal cycle duty for a Boy's Brigade parade. Basically this means cycling alongside the parade ensuring traffic is kept away and keeping the parade participants safe.
5pm - Attended a call from a resident in Glenmore. There's a tent pitched up in the area and people are concerned that it's 'suspicious'. Going to check it out. I'll also inform the council as it is on their land.
6.30pm - Escorting a prisoner to the custody suite in Antrim.
9pm - Responded to a report of an assault outside a bar in the city. Fortunately the IP (injured party) had not sustained any serious injuries. The offender was still at the scene so he was arrested and brought to Lisburn police station. After we have processed the arrested man we'll head back out on patrol.
Midnight - Home time. I have some paperwork I would like to get done so I will probably stay on for another half hour or so to get that tidied up before a brand new week starts tomorrow.