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Posted on Tuesday 24 January 2023
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It’s the beginning of an eight-hour shift for neighbourhood officer, PCSO Mike Ashurst, he pops on the kettle ready for his morning briefing before checking force systems to get an overview of jobs that have come in overnight.

Mike has been with the team at Durham City for a little over 13 weeks now, before that he was based at Framwellgate Moor neighbourhood office.

PCSO Ashurst said: “I love working in the city, we attend a variety of incidents and that’s what makes coming to work exciting because you could be helping an old dear with her shopping one minute or carrying out searches for a missing person the next.”

At 9am, a call comes in over Mike’s radio from the Riverwalk security team who have concerns of rough sleepers in the Odeon car park.

Mike makes his way down to the location and carries out an area search, he finds a number of stolen items slumped in the corner of the car park so gathers them up and returns them to Poundland.

He also discovers several used needles so liaises with local street wardens to get them clinically removed.

Later that morning, he is asked to attend to a homeless man who has arrived at the front desk. Mike arranges him some temporary accommodation at Sanctuary 21 and provides him with a food bag.

PCSO Ashurst then stops for a quick bite to eat and heads back down into Durham.

A little while after patrolling, Mike is tasked to carry out house to house enquires in St Margaret’s court following reports of criminal damage to vehicles in the area.

His investigations eventually lead him to a suspect and enquiries are now ongoing in relation to that matter.

At 2.30pm, Mike has a pre-arranged appointment to deliver crime prevention advice at The Sands around vehicle break-ins. He spends the rest of the afternoon with residents before heading back to the station to de-brief.

PCSO Ashurt’s days look a little different to what they used to - Mike was a grocery store owner for more than 20 years before joining the force in 2022.

He said: “After COVID hit, little stores like mine really struggled to make any profit, it was a real shame to shut our doors but I knew it was the right time to make a change.

“I applied for the role after seeing a social media post and started on my CV right away – I’d never actually written a CV before so that was a steep learning curve for me.

“For my interview, I was a little nervous, but I knew I had to be myself and I think that’s what makes a good neighbourhood officer – it’s about being relatable and representing the communities we serve.”

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