IT IS easy to see why PC Zak Ahmed and PC Allan Gray love their jobs.
Not only is it most children’s dream come true to drive around in powerful cars and catch criminals, the variety in one shift with the police is incredible.
Although PC Ahmed and PC Gray are two of the most effective police officers I have met, the shift I spent with them was haunted by the most efficient deterrents of crime – rain.
I admit, I was hoping for some of the more intriguing behaviour that goes on in Brent and that justice was done, of course, but it turns out that most criminals are fair weather and do not enjoy going out when it’s wet.
This is not to say that the evening was without any sort of drama as we drove round the back streets looking for burglary suspects. The officers drove pretty fast on to the M1 to pursue someone who was not, in the end, a burglary suspect, and saved a small dog from an unfortunate end on a busy road.
Inspector Jacquie Carver at Wembley Police station was in charge of the shift, which consisted of four sergeants and some 20 police officers in total.
She talked me through how everything works and what happens when a call is made.
Anyone who rings 999 gets put through to the control centre in Hendon, where their call is logged and graded for the level of urgency.
Cars are then dispatched depending on who is in the area and available.
The shift I accompanied the officers on ran from 4pm to 2am for many.
Inspector Carver explained: “The hours vary from shift to shift and some of them would be working until 2am today. They do two early shifts, two late shifts, two nights then four days off.
“I do not enjoy getting up early in the morning so quite like the late shifts. We have people working later on Friday and Saturday nights when it is busier.”
She added: “Brent is alright to work in. You get the best of both as it is partly suburbs and part of it is like central London as well. There is a high rate of burglaries and high value cars are stolen.”
I was in one of the patrol cars with PC Ahmed, 23, who has been in the force for four years and PC Gray, 28, who has worked for the police for seven years and started in Hertfordshire.
PC Gray said: “It is not always like ‘The Bill’.
“I had always wanted to join the Met, my father has been an officer in the Met for 38 years. I followed suit and haven’t regretted it.
“At first you think it is about the excitement of each job but it is about the diversity of calls as well.”
The issues facing the officers on this shift came from a variety of places.
PC Gray said: “In Brent there is a problem with gangs, especially on Church Road and the usual estates, that can make it quite busy.
“We get a lot of calls on Kilburn High Road as well because you get a lot of young people with money going drinking and they are easy targets for theft. They will leave their expensive phones on the table or will be easy to rob.”
On the night in question we stopped a man in Hendon who was trying to sell bronze rings, but there was no proof he was claiming they were gold so the officers let him go.
Later on, a woman was the victim of attempted robbery as a young boy on a bike had tried to grab her phone out of her hand but she had fended him off. We drove around the streets of Harlesden to see if we could spot him but had no luck and as it was dark we did not have any luck.
The depth of the officer’s local knowledge is incredible, they have a mental sat nav map and know all the hot spots for drug use, anti social behaviour and gangs.
In Neasden, we pursued a group of men down an alleyway as they looked like they were up to no good.
PC Ahmed said: “Police officers get a feeling for what people are doing and whether someone has something on them. You pick up signals about how people react when they see a police car. It’s small things that people don’t know they are doing.”
This time, it turned out they were urinating in public, but they got a shock seeing a police car waiting for them.
In addition to the varied working day and rewarding job, the officers both appreciate having a colleague next to them through the long and often stressful shifts.
PC Ahmed said: “I see my mates sometimes but out of work I will see colleagues as well.
“In this job you have got each other’s back, you build up a bond and you do end up being good mates and getting to know each other.”