It is a Friday night and police have brought someone in hot with anger from fighting. They are drunk and injured.

The situation is getting out of hand. The person needs to be restrained. Then, a gentle voice asks 'Are you alright? Can I get you something to drink, have you got any injuries? I am sorry you have found yourself here.'

The location is Abingdon Police Station's Custody Suite and Beccy Smith is there to defuse the situation and look after their medical needs.

Ms Smith is from Watchfield and is a police custody nurse for Thames Valley Police.

Although she jokes her job is to give people paracetamol and get told, rudely, to go away, she insists it is much more complex than that.

There to provide initial first aid and acute healthcare to people who are coming through the door of into custody in Abingdon, she is often met with vulnerable people who have drug and alcohol issues or people who have been in accidents. It is her job to keep people safe and make sure they are fit to be detained and remain fit for a police interview.

Read also: Didcot's Play2Give founder to be awarded MBE

Abingdon is the busiest custody suite in the Thames Valley, particularly on a Friday or Saturday night, explained Ms Smith. She said: “I keep in mind it could be anybody to come through the door. Every day is a challenge, and every day is different.”

Ms Smith has encountered many young people in police custody, and although it is a bad position for them to be in, it can also be a turning point. The juveniles Ms Smith looks after in custody often are there for being involved in 'county lines' drug dealing and other drug or alcohol abuse issues, and she sees it as a chance to keep them safe and offer support.

She said: “Often you are the first medical professional they have seen in a long time, so it is really important that we provide health promotion, sign posting and safety netting for people because we are catching these people on their worst day. I treat these people how I would like to be treated myself because I do always try and remember that it could be any of us.”

She added: “I am passionate about these people who are often on the edge of society. They live with a lot social and health inequality and it is really important that the care I provide is something they benefit from. Sometimes being brought into custody can be a positive thing because they need some help.”

For Ms Smith drugs are the most ‘terrifying’ thing she comes across.

She said: “It is the different types of drugs people take I think I find that terrifying as a healthcare professional. The new types of drugs that are developed now do have some difficult effects on people and they can make people very drowsy, and when somebody is drowsy and alone in a cell, you really have to be on the ball. We often get word of a bad batch of heroin or Xanax that people are buying off the dark web. And we see it.”

Ms Smith works with the ethos that everybody is entitled to have someone listen to them and talk to them like a human being.

She said: “I am terribly 'nursey'. I have genuinely washed a lady’s feet in custody. This lady was a regular lady, and she said her feet hurt her so much, she was in a real state, she had mental health problems and her home is a real state.

"I washed her feet. For that minute I had a little chat with her and it broke stuff down.”

Ms Smith even admitted to missing regular offenders and said: “On my journey home I think of people and I really hope that they are okay.

"Sometimes if I have not seen somebody in a while, and when all of a sudden, they turn up, they are not happy to be there, but I am happy to see them.”

In 2020, Ms Smith won an award for her hard work. Overall, 750 people were nominated for the Cavell Star Award for Nursing and Ms Smith took the prize.

For the police custody nurse the award presentation was a complete surprise on a meal out with her colleagues. She was awarded star and pin to wear on her lanyard.

She said: “Covid-19 has been an unprecedented challenge both in healthcare and in the criminal justice system.

Read also: Covid jab to be administered at the Civic Hall in Didcot

“It is a privilege to do my job, to be able to care for all people who are often having their worst day, showing empathy and compassion regardless of the choices they may have made.”