FOR the 13,000 followers of Bournemouth Police on Facebook, along with business owners and residents in the town centre, PCSO Harold is a familiar face.

I got the opportunity to go out on patrol with the officer in the town centre to find out what he faces every day, and to find out more about the man himself.

We left Bournemouth Police Station at around 2.30pm on a rainy afternoon, joined by PC Paul McKenna and BCP Council CSAS officer Peter O’Donnell.

Within five minutes of leaving the station, PCSO Harold was called into action, moving on a resident who had parked in the police vehicles only parking spaces.

We then headed into the town centre to begin the shift in the town.

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Speaking before we headed out, I asked PCSO Harold Martinez to tell me more about himself and his role.

He told of how he had always wanted to be a PC, and first joined the Metropolitan Police in 2006, before moving down to Dorset three years later.

Now 52, PCSO Harold described his normal day.

“I come to work, we do a briefing, we check who is in custody, we check the intelligence portal, we just have a look who is wanted, we share information, but my main objective of my job is to be out there, present, accessible to the public, answer questions, reassure the community,” he said.

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“It's about being accessible to the people, getting to know your community, the people, the businesses, they give you intelligence, which you then put in a box and then create a bigger picture.”

He added: “I love my job; I like making a difference.”

This I saw first hand as we wandered down Old Christchurch Road, with multiple people greeting Harold by name, and him returning the greeting.

Heading towards Beales, Harold and PC McKenna from the Bournemouth south neighbourhood policing team, spotted a man who had been wanted.

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The pair spoke to him and Harold told me how he had been arrested in Brighton, and was no longer wanted in Bournemouth.

Throughout the patrol, Harold is in constant communication with colleagues and partner agencies, armed with three radios to keep in touch.

PC McKenna said: “We work with community support officers, with CSAS officers, town rangers, BCP council members, Shopwatch radio.

“We're all in it together.

“Supporting the business community, supporting the community of Bournemouth, we’re very visible with residents.”

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As we arrived in the Square, Harold was hearing about a drug deal outside Tesco, which dispersed, and a pair of shoplifters at Tesco in the Triangle, headed our way.

We waited to see if they came down to the Square.

Meanwhile, Harold spotted two people he told me were two of the most prolific shoplifters in the town, and he stopped them to speak to them to make sure they were not up to no good.

Heading back up Old Christchurch Road, the officers spotted another wanted person, who had missed a court date.

They stopped her and spoke to her, and she was cooperative, but they needed to get her to Bournemouth custody, with colleagues arriving shortly afterwards with a car to take her away.

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PC McKenna told me before the patrol of the importance of PCSO Harold and police community support officers across the force.

“PCSOs are the eyes and ears of the community,” he said.

“They are an essential conduit for information, for breaking down barriers for example, sometimes people don't want to speak to the police direct or they will go through Harold, as a PCSO. “Everyone knows him, you know, we police by consent.

“He has a very positive relationship with members of the community and as such, they give him information which he passes onto us and the act on that information.

“So, it's essential. We need more Harolds.”

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The pair told me how they could encounter anything on any shift, and that no two days are the same.

On any day’s shift, Harold might deal with anti-social behaviour, drug taking and dealing or aggressive begging, as well as carrying out visits to safeguard people against fraud.

“Sometimes I come across shoplifting incidents, things like people falling over and hurting themselves,” Harold said.

“The summer's coming, missing children, hot dogs in the car, you know, everything, I'm there.”

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As the only PCSO in the town centre, Harold covers a lot of ground, doing around 25,000 steps a day, and makes use of his bike to get him from the town centre to Westbourne and back.

Speaking about the Facebook page, PC McKenna said: “We're transparent in everything that we do that's accessible on social media, our Twitter, Facebook page.

“It's a way of breaking down barriers to members of the public as well. So, they can see what they do, they'll see us on the street, they'll interact us and engage with us.

“We do more engagements than ever before, on a positive note, across all different areas.”

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Harold was thanked by one man while on patrol for his work, and I asked him about how he feels seeing the positive comments about his work on social media.

He said: “I'm passionate about my job, basically, it's rewarding when you see things like that, but I do it from the bottom of my heart because I want to make a difference in the place in which I live and I work.”

This was apparent throughout the patrol. Harold told me how every shift is different, but each day goes very quickly.

It was clear that he loves his work and has a real, positive connection with all the businesses and characters across the town centre.

Harold provides a visible police presence in Bournemouth and is quick to mobilise to any incidents along with his colleagues in the neighbourhood policing team.

So, next time you see Harold on patrol or on his bike, be sure to say hello.