Derbyshire's Traffic Cops on their new 'celebrity' status and how show has highlighted the dangers police face
One of the Derbyshire stars of popular police documentary Traffic Cops admits he is ‘embarrassed’ to watch the show himself – but welcomes its popularity as a window on modern policing.
PC Jason Potts has spoken about the impact of the Channel 5 show on the county’s roads policing unit and how officers have had to get used to being on camera and seeing themselves on the small screen.
He also says the show, which returned for its latest series last month, has been able to highlight some of the dangers of the job.
"Shortly after the programme was aired some members of the public began to go out of their way to speak to us,” PC Potts said.
"Some would just say ‘hello, I saw you on the tele last night. Great programme!’. Some even went as far as asking for a 'selfie'.
"However, it isn’t unusual for the occasional letter to arrive just to thank us for making them feel safe.”
PC Potts, who is based in Ripley, admits this new found celebrity status took some getting used to at first.
“Initially the attention did feel strange and I felt a little embarrassed,” he added.
"But it soon became clear that ‘Traffic Cops’ had a positive impact on its viewers and portrayed Derbyshire police in a way that we should all be proud to be part of.”
PC Potts says the programme helps to highlight to the public the ‘diverse nature’ of police work – which he has seen for himself over a 28-year career.
"The episodes show that we are human and we often display our frustrations when even with our best efforts justice does not seem to have been done,” he said.
"I believe the show captures how determined we are to investigate every incident with the intention of achieving a positive outcome for all involved.”
Officers who appear in the show also had to get used to film crews recording their every move on each shift – and PC Potts admits this was challenging at first.
“When we were approached with the idea of having a camera crew with us I was a little concerned,”
"Not because I felt I would do anything wrong but simply because the world can be hyper critical of things they see and I was worried that the footage shown may not capture the full circumstances.
“However, the production company were very professional and the camera crews were great to work with.”
Several incidents recorded on the show reveal how dangerous modern policing can be – and PC Potts recalls one which could have become very serious when he and colleagues were ‘surrounded’ by an angry crowd.
“A vehicle was stopped which contained two drunken males,” he said.
"Whilst attempting to deal with them, both became hostile and offered violence towards us.
"Due to the level of threat I deployed Taser to neutralise that threat.
"This had the desired effect but it soon became apparent that the viewing crowd was also hostile towards us and we were surrounded by them.
"I believe that if it had not been for the arriving backup, my colleague and I would have been seriously assaulted.”