CHRISTMAS is a time to socialise, go out drinking and meet up with friends and family. The Thames Valley Police, however, will be spending their time tackling crime and keeping people safe at one of the busiest times of the year.

In just one 9-5 day a policeman could act as a child carer, marriage councillor or even a support worker and this is something they have to balance due to the high demand and pressures they face.

When I arrived at Loddon Valley Police Station on November 12, I got to experience being in the back of a police car while sergeant police constable Chris Weston was responding to real life situations.

Whilst driving to the location to arrest someone, I knew that if the situation got serious, I would have to exit the vehicle and find a way back to the office.

It was eye-opening to see how one minute, the police will be out attempting to arrest someone and the next, trying to locate a missing person. It was intense, seemed rather hectic and made me realise my day isn’t as stressful as a police officers’.

Analysis by the House of Commons Library shows 2,156 officers resigning in 2016. Since 2010, a total of 11,670 police officers quit their jobs due to the increase in workload and pay cuts.

PC Chris Weston told me: “When I joined, I saw myself doing this for 30 years and had no intention to go elsewhere but in the last few years with everything going on like budget restraints, cuts on shifts.”

Sergeant Police Constable Dave Keenan was also happy to share his experience of being a police officer, He said: “A lot of the time it’s a fascinating job, it is positive because it changes lives and makes a difference to people in crisis.

“The reality is that we are here to do a job and keep people safe.”

It is clear to see that so many police officers are needing additional help and support. Police funding has fallen by 19 per cent since 2010 and officers number have decreased by more than 20,000 making this one of their toughest times.

PC Chris added: “I have noticed the stretch, we are definitely busier, but it gets to a point when you are coming home late and it starts to impact at home.

“Luckily, my wife’s Dad was in the police force and so she is well used to the strains and how it can affect me.”

When it comes to dealing with the ins and outs of the job, PC Chris told me that being a support network for the public is the biggest increase during the festive period.

He said: “We certainly deal with mental health this time of year and work with South Central Ambulance Service to help assist when there isn’t 24-hour support for people in crisis.”

To help ease the strain on the police, the public are urged to be more vigilant and alert with burglaries, after its recent ‘Winter Burglaries campaign’ advising people on preventative measures.

This is just one way the public can help make the lives of police officers easier and support their on-going battle with the changes being made to their service.