Photo by Jane Stockdale
I’m Dessie. I joined the Police Service of Northern Ireland three years ago and I’m based in Belfast. You may have heard of it. There are sometimes some mild disagreements between Protestants and Catholics here.
It’s a great job, but fucking hard. I haven’t seen anyone being killed or saved anyone’s life or anything like that—but I’ve seen some weird shit. People treat police like they’re either bastards, heroes or fucking sex gods. Most of the time you feel ignored by people who see you. They see the uniform and they don’t want to make eye contact.
One of the things I try not to get hung up about is people taking the piss. I look younger than I am—I’m 25—and I get it all the time because of that. I’ve attended incidents outside pubs and people get my name off the badge and shout things like “Have you finished your homework, son?” or “I didn’t know the nurseries did fancy dress parties.”
I try not to crack them or shoot them. You just ignore them or tell them they’re a “born comedian.” You learn which is best. Discretion is a big part of the job. You try to make sure you don’t become the enemy if there’s a fight. You’re the peacemaker. I don’t expect to ever use a firearm outside of training, but if I had to I’d be ready.
I’ve been surprised by the violence that goes on all the time. I saw one woman who’d been hit with a jug by her partner at home. He hit her twice before it broke. He cut his hand too. He rang the ambulance for her. She kept on frying the breakfast. It was about five in the morning. He said he’d just got up and hit her because he was like that. And I saw a man who had beaten up his girlfriend and then started to beat himself up in the street. He jammed a pen point into his hands and balls and thighs and all and slapped himself in the face. It was like fucking Fight Club. We arrested him and he started banging his head on the ground.
The worst was with this drunk woman who stuffed a cigarette up her arse. She was told she was going to be arrested if she kept making threats to someone and as I said this she staggered behind this car and lifted her skirt and started to stick a fag up her arse. She thought it was a joint, but I could see it was just tobacco round her arse. Awful sight.
I’ve seen a lot of tits. Girls like to flash when they’re pissed. Sometimes they say things like, “Take me home, Constable”, and not just the younger girls—the old dolls and all. But you don’t do it. I could have had some freaky sex if I wasn’t so scared of getting in the shit.
PC DESSIE (AS TOLD TO JASON JOHNSON)