For thirty years my life in the police meant that my mouth has been trussed up tighter than a Member of Parliaments gimp mask. I wasn’t allowed to voice any contentious views and giving an opinion meant a two-hundred-mile drive to the top of a mountain. Even then it would be done in a whisper after first checking there was no one else within a thousand miles who could overhear. The trouble was, I had taken the Queens shilling, sworn my allegiance to her majesty and kept my mouth shut for three decades. Well more or less.
Now, recently retired from a life in the police and no longer worried about offending a 99 year old, tobacco chewing, one legged, neutral gendered, person of non determinate colour from outer Uzbekistan, I have the chance to put the record straight. I want to tell you that every word I write is true but no doubt some tree hugging, sandal wearing, do-gooder will come along demanding my testicles be removed with a blunt and rusty knife. In light of this I may change some names and add that nothing I will say ever really happened.
I joined the British Police “Force” in 1979 when the world was a different place and Political correctness had not yet been conceived. Later in my career it became the Police “Service” which was also about the time Postman Pat’s firm (The Post Office), changed its name to Parcel “Force”. Thinking about it now I can understand why. Any parcel is liable to get far rougher treatment than we were allowed to dish out to Billy burglar who had just spat a green sticky globule of hepatitis all over your face. At one time Billy may have had the error of his ways pointed out with a non verbal short sharp shock. In later years the officer would have to apologise to him for being in his personal space as he was clearing his throat.
During my career, the Police service tried to change in line with what was happening in the world outside. The trouble was, the line the Police followed was made by a drunkard pushing a wonky shopping trolley on ice.
Suddenly the world had become a politically correct, a pink and fluffy place which was dominated by the evil twins, health and safety along with their wicked stepsister, the blame culture. This promoted an ethos where senior officers looked to cover their backs first and would not, or often could not, make any decisions. Senior officers days became one big meeting that looked at important issues such as what colour toilet paper should be so as not to offend anyone.
At the beginning of my career I was lucky enough to work with some “old school” officers who gave me several pieces of advice that have helped me throughout my career.
“Forget the consequences, if you believe what you are doing is right, then do it”
“Be brutally honest with everyone you deal with”
“Your mouth is the best weapon you have, use it well”
I stuck to these principals constantly and they served me well.
In the chapters and passages that follow you will see through my experiences how the Police as an organisation has changed with time and either evolved or devolved. Is it for the better? I will leave that for you to decide.
You will also find that officers are schizophrenic through necessity. They have one persona for work but then have to shed that skin on the way home, ignore what happened that day and get back to a family life.
The Police have a very peculiar and sometimes very dark sense of humour that is shared between all the emergency services. It is their first and often last line of defence when it comes to dealing with the gory, brutal and downright horrific twilight world in which they exist. It is a very thin artificial barrier that protects them but, as you will find out that barrier is often broken.
You may be pleased to know that since retiring I no longer need my schizophrenic other half and we are both making a full recovery. When asked if I miss the job I will often say “I don’t miss the circus but I miss the clowns”. A life as a police officer is joining a family unlike any other, unless you count the Adams family.
In the passages that follow I hope to show the funny side of working in the Police and believe me there have been so many times where humour has saved my soul from the dark side. I also hope to show the serious, the depressing, through to stories that even now still leave me in tears of laughter or sadness.
It was a very varied career which included being blown up in a IRA bomb, being knifed, dealing with spies, being undercover, investigating rape and child abuse, when someone got shot instead of me, depression, right through to being arrested and gripping the dock at the old Bailey as a defendant.
Would I spend a life as a police officer again… in a heartbeat.