23 December 2022

Support is a phone call away if you need Santa's helpers this Christmas

| Claire Fenwicke
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Six police officers in Santa hats around a Christmas tree.

Constables Matthew Elder, Michael Clarke, Nathan Kennedy (standing), First Constable Patricia Skrypczynski, and constables Emily Nuttall and Lachlan Tisdell (front) make up Belconnen Team Five, rostered on for Christmas afternoon. Photo: Claire Fenwicke.

No-one expects to call police on Christmas Day.

But if it happens, Canberrans have been assured officers won’t be taking a break over the holiday period.

Belconnen Team Five has been rostered on at its station for Christmas afternoon.

“This is probably my third Christmas I’ve worked, but most of them are just like any other day,” First Constable Patricia Skrzypczynski said.

“I know that’s a bit cliched but it’s the truth. You don’t know what you’re going to get on any given day. I’ve had anything from burglaries on Christmas Eve to the usual family violence incidents.

“Or you might have nothing on the other end. So it will be interesting to see what kind of day we have.”

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ACT Policing has already responded to more than 3000 family violence incidents throughout the year.

It’s an unfortunate reality that Christmas is a time when old issues can flare and tempers erupt.

“Obviously everyone likes to have a bit of a drink, they see family members they haven’t seen in a while,” First Const. Skrzypczynski said. “They argue about things and it spills onto the street sometimes, and that’s when we get called.”

Sometimes calling before things get out of hand can be the best course of action. It allows police to defuse a situation rather than arriving when the situation escalates to a point where charges can be laid.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry, better to have us involved early before it gets to something that can’t be taken back,” Constable Emily Nuttall said.

“If it escalates more, just give us another call.”

And if you’re thinking about calling, don’t be worried about imposing on any Christmas plans.

“It’s our job at the end of the day. It’s what we expect, we don’t expect we’ll be sitting around all day having a Christmas lunch and dinner,” First Const. Skrzypczynski said.

“We expect we’re going to be called, and if there is something that requires police assistance, we’d love to help.”

Officers with family in Canberra have either arranged to see loved ones outside of their shift or will celebrate Christmas on a different day.

But police will be getting into the Christmas spirit – in the office and on the street.

“We do stuff as a team, so we’re planning on bringing in a plate of food. We’ll try and have a sit-down dinner at some point. Otherwise that’s kind of it, we just enjoy each other’s company,” First Const. Skrzypczynski said.

“Usually we put some tinsel on the police cars and people will roll around during shift with Christmas hats on just to make it a bit more festive.

“But you’ve still got to do your job at the end of the day.”

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The Canberra community has been reminded we can play our part to make sure everyone’s Christmas is as safe as possible.

Messages include don’t drink and drive, drink responsibly, and look after each other, including those who might be celebrating alone.

And don’t let Christmas Day end up with someone needing to be taken away in the back of a police van.

“You’re there to enjoy the time with each other, that’s the reason for Christmas,” Const. Nuttall said.

“Enjoy the time rather than starting little fights that turn into something major, especially if you’re drinking alcohol.”

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A particular thankyou to those police who are trauma informed, mentally health aware and trained in de-escalation skills, as this knowledge and skill is key to good community policing. Well done to those of you who have developed yourselves in these areas critical to positive policing and influencing people so everyone stays safe and enjoying the season!

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