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“I just want to put bad people away” says Manchester cop

A Police Constable from Greater Manchester Police has spoken out about life on the force, admitting that “not everyone is happy with what we do”.

Matthew Balkwell, 31, has been a full-time police officer since 2016. Alluding to criticism of police over the last couple of years, Matthew said he had become a copper because he wanted to help victims of crime and was worried that people didn’t always feel that the police were there to help them.

Speaking about his time with Manchester’s burglary and robbery unit, Matthew said that one of his proudest moments was arresting a serial thief who had specifically been targeting pensioners. He said:

“There had been a series of robberies targeting elderly victims, and it was devastating to see the impact of these crimes. We tracked down, charged and convicted the culprit and it felt so good to be the one to let the victims know that the person who had done this to them was behind bars.”

Matthew was speaking about his police work as part of the eye care specialist Optical Express’s ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign, which aims to thank NHS and Emergency Service workers for the extraordinary work they do by giving them free laser eye surgery.

Matthew explained how, before he had laser eye surgery, wearing his contact lenses or glasses was getting in the way of his job and progressing his career further. He said he was once running after a thief whilst on shift and one of his contact lenses came out during the chase.

Matthew said: “When you’re called out to an incident, you never know what you’re turning up to. If a serious incident occurred, your shift can sometimes be up to 16 or 18 hours long. Wearing contact lenses for that amount of time, my eyes would get very dry and it just makes it hard to be at your best.”

Optical Express’s ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign is giving away £1 million worth of free laser eye surgery to NHS and Emergency Service workers to thank them for their continuous efforts to protect the public.

Matthew said: “The ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign has really helped me massively, just being able to wake up and walk straight outside of the house. I have previously thought about getting laser eye surgery in the past, but I was unable to go ahead with it. Without the Optical Express campaign, I wouldn’t be able to afford laser eye surgery.”

“I didn’t join the force to be thanked, I enjoy helping people, I love doing it and wouldn’t change it. However, it’s nice that there are companies out there wanting to support us.”

David Moulsdale, Chairman and CEO of Optical Express, said: “Optical Express’s ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign allows us to improve the lives of so many hardworking people. We first launched the campaign because we are passionate about giving something back to those who protect the public and to acknowledge the sacrifices they made during the pandemic.”

It is the second time that Optical Express has chosen to thank NHS and Emergency Service workers in this way. In 2017, they launched their first ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign which saw them give away £1 million worth of free laser eye surgery. Over the course of the two campaigns more than £2 million worth of surgery will improve the lives of NHS and Emergency Service workers.

Since Optical Express was founded 32 years ago, the team are proud to have supported hundreds of humanitarian and philanthropic projects, donating over £33 million and counting to worthwhile causes in the UK and abroad.