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Coppers

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Filmed across Britain, from inner cities to country beats, Coppers reveals what the police are up against every day of their working lives

About the Show

Filmed across Britain, from inner cities to country beats, Coppers reveals what the police are up against every day of their working lives

Series 1 Summary

As police budgets, and numbers, come under threat, this hard-hitting series reveals what police officers across England really think about being on the frontline of 21st-century Britain.

With access to police forces across the country - from Kent to West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester to Cambridgeshire - and from inner cities to rural beats, Coppers shows what police officers are up against every day of their working lives.

The series captures the reality of the job: from the riot police who face serious public disorder on our streets, to the seasoned custody sergeants who've seen it all, from the staff facing time-wasters calling 999 to emergency response teams racing to the scene only to find themselves acting as social workers or marriage guidance counsellors, and from traffic cops picking up the pieces after accidents to the thin blue line who face abuse and violence from binge-drinkers every weekend.

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    Episode 1 - Custody

    The Medway custody suite in Gillingham, Kent is one of the busiest in the country. The first programme in the series joins its staff, who process 40 suspected criminals every day.

    From burglary to shop-lifting and assault to drugs possession, Custody Officer Sergeant Sean O'Conner and his team have seen generations progress through their criminal careers and witness a never-ending cycle of deprivation, drugs, crime, violence, and - for some of the women they meet - prostitution.

    With frustration, resignation and sometimes anger - as well as flashes of frequently dark humour - ordinary police officers offer a raw insight into the harsh realities of policing modern Britain.

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    Episode 2 - Traffic

    The series takes to the fast lane with Cambridgeshire's traffic cops: the petrolheads who are happiest racing to the rescue, or nicking drink drivers, and like nothing better than 'giving out love' (issuing speed tickets) with their 'love scope' (speed gun).

    'I love nicking people,' says PC Leigh Fenton. 'I'd lock everybody up all day if I could.' The film reveals the close bonds that develop between the officers, and the banter they use as a shield against the part of the job they all dread: informing the next of kin when someone dies as a result of a traffic accident.

    PCs Terry Sharpe and Stuart Appleton have spent three years sharing driving duties in their Volvo V70: 'People have said we're like an old married couple. We bicker and we argue. We have a laugh,' says PC Sharp.

    But, despite the training and camaraderie, informing the next of kin after accidents never gets any easier: 'Saying the words that 'I've just been to an accident and it's my duty to tell you that your wife has died.' And there's no beating around the bush. You've got to tell them in no uncertain terms, that 'your wife has died.' And the reaction you get after that... that's the thing you think about,' says PC Appleton.

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    Episode 3 - Emergency Response

    Emergency calls to the police have risen by 50 per cent over the last 15 years, although recorded crime has dropped by a third over the same period.

    The series follows the police responding to emergency calls and reveals the incredible things people choose to call 999 about: from mobile phones running out of credit to arguments about whose turn it is to have a go on the Nintendo Wii.

    Kent constabulary receive a quarter of a million 999 calls every year, with 80% classed as non-emergencies and many seen as 'nuisance calls'.

    'We're seeing a generation divide,' says Chief Inspector Nicola Faulconbridge of Kent's Force Communications Centre. 'Whereas the older generation won¿t call us for almost anything, even in an emergency, the younger generation are much more willing and ready to call us about almost any issue.'

    Police officers are spending much of their time acting as counselors, settling petty squabbles and relationship problems. 'Sometimes you just want to bang people's heads together and go 'Come on, look at you - you're 40 and you're acting like you're 12!'' says PC Neil Cronin.

    Another issue prompting an increasing number of calls to 999 calls is Facebook. When virtual threats get out of hand, the police have no choice but to treat it as a real emergency, sending cars racing to the scene.

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    Episode 4 - Saturday Night

    The series joins police officers on the Saturday night beat, where drunks, abuse and violence - as well as marriage proposals and requests to urinate in your helmet - are all part of the job.

    Typical of towns and cities up and down the country, every weekend the streets of Wakefield and Leeds in West Yorkshire are filled with people getting as drunk as they can as fast as they can. Trying to keep them in order, and stop them hurting themselves or others, are a handful of officers, alongside city council night marshals.

    'We get nothing but grief and abuse and we can't say anything back, can we?' says PC Phillippa Child in Wakefield.

    'If we locked up everybody who swore or spat or urinated or got involved in a pushing and shoving match, within about an hour of being out on town, just about everybody on that city centre would be waiting in the cells to be booked in,' says PC Chris Merrick.

    When they¿re not arresting people, the female PCs are fending off protestations of love: ''Can I have your number? You're lovely. You're really nice. Why are you a copper? You're too beautiful to be a copper.' And I'm thinking get lost!' says PC Child.

  • A TAU Officer

    Episode 5 - Public Order

    The final programme in the series takes viewers to the heart of a riot.

    With exclusive access to Greater Manchester Police's Tactical Aid Unit, cameras accompany officers as they police violent clashes between thousands of opposing demonstrators.

    English Defence League supporters are marching on Bolton town centre, with counter-demonstrators from Unite Against Fascism waiting for them. Tactical Aid Unit officers, who are trained to tackle heavy duty jobs, from knocking down doors to controlling football crowds, are expected to hold the line between the two opposing groups. It's their job to keep the peace, whatever it takes.

    But as protester numbers swell and the crowds become harder to control, violence and scores of arrests ensue. As events unfold, five camera crews are at the very heart of the action with the TAU officers, giving a candid picture of both sides of the divide, protesters and police.

Coppers synopsis

Filmed across Britain, from inner cities to country beats, Coppers reveals what the police are up against every day of their working lives

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