Ever since being subjected to an armed police raid on my home, my thoughts kept going back to a single question: where is the duty of care for young people in these situations? Has there not been any prior investigation of minors in the home? Why isn’t there an appropriate adult on the scene to ensure that the mental health of that innocent young person isn’t permanently damaged?
At approximately 2 am in the morning I was awoken by shouting, banging, and a torch light being shone through my upstairs bedroom window. I initially thought I was dreaming, but on realising this was real and hearing shouts of “armed police,” I ran down the stairs and opened the door to a gun being aimed at my forehead. I was ordered to step outside slowly with my hands in front of me, only wearing pyjamas with no shoes or socks on a freezing winter night.
There was lots of shouting and aggression, “Is anyone else in the house?” Thankfully neither my son who they had come for, nor my youngest child were present. “We’re sending the dog in so you need to tell us, or they will be attacked by the dog”. I repeated that no one else was there and was led down the path, and about two houses away, still with a gun pointed at my head, I was told to put my hands on the wall. I started shaking with a combination of fear and cold. I looked around and the road had been blocked off by police cars at each end; innocent pedestrians and motorists were being screamed at to go the other way.
It’s funny the random things you think of in a situation like this: I wondered why someone was out walking their dog at this time of the morning, she looked petrified being screamed at in such an aggressive way. Then I began to think of things I was grateful for, at least neither of my children were at home, and at least it was a Friday, so I didn’t have to get up for work in the morning. I think I was able to remain so calm because I only had to deal with my own emotions. I know it would have played out very differently if I had to consider the trauma of my children, especially my 10-year-old. There is no way I would have walked away from my house and allowed my youngest child to be woken up to a gun in their face and all the shouting. What would have happened in that scenario? I felt I had a lot to be grateful for in that moment. I eventually asked the officer if I could cross my arms as I was really shaking by this point and felt very exposed. He looked me up and down and said, “yes you don’t look like you’ve got anything on you.” Another officer eventually brought me some shoes that were on the stairs.
After they had been around the house with the dog, they let me back in. Two plain clothes Xcalibre Officers came in, a male and female. I asked whether I could use the toilet, she laughed and said, “yes, but don’t be pulling any guns out.” I didn’t even honour that comment with a response. I was told I needed to leave my home as it was now a crime scene, and no one was available to do a search until between 7 am and 9 am the next morning. Fortunately, my friend answered the phone when I rang – by this time it must have been close to 3 am. The officer waited outside my bedroom door while I got dressed and then I had to leave. I felt humiliated and thought about how unnecessarily loud they were; my whole street must have been awake. My next-door neighbour told me the following day that there were twenty-two armed officers. She had counted them through the window, even though they had also screamed at her and her daughter to move back. Clearly, they thought my son was going to come out shooting everyone in sight, even though he has never been convicted of a firearms offence in the past.
Since this traumatic event, I refer back to my original questions, what guidelines do armed police have for minors in the home? Why is no one there to put the needs of children at the forefront of all of this? As an adult now, I feel a lot of anxiety: I always leave my key in the door now in case I ever need to open it quickly again. What impact would this have had on my child? What impact has it already had on the many young people who must have been subjected to this inhumane treatment? When will these questions be answered?