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Metropolitan Police History

Officer 102

Location of interview:via Skype in his home in Canada

Officer's Gender:Male

Date joined Met Police:13 December 1976

Date left Met Police:31 March 2007

Rank of leaving:Sergeant

Divisons served:

Specialist service:No specialities

Transcript of interview

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Track 1:1.01’ Introduction to interview

Track 2:2.10’Life before the MET: 1958 born and raised for the first 3 years in Hackney. Family moved to Walthamstow. Eventually worked at Walthamstow, because he could live at home. Why join the MET: because he wanted to live in London and dreamed of an adventurous job in the MET. Jobs before joining only included school jobs in shops. Cadet Corp 1975. Life as a Cadet. Loved the Cadets, although he did struggle with the exams. 

Track 3:6’46’ first posting to Walthamstow. Reflects that he had requested Illford. Asked where he did not want o go and replied Walthamstow, so he was sent to Walthamstow. Recalls first days. First night duty. Assigned a constable (puppy walker) who was a van driver. First arrest within the hour. Recalls the constable called a drunk into the van and told him he was his first arrest. Worked at Walthamstow for 8 years. Working his way up. Fell foul of an inspector at a cricket match. Recalls he heckled the inspector, teasing him because he was in such short shorts and skinny legs. So he transferred him to Waltham Abbey as an area driver. Remembers the Inspector had told the Chief Inspector that he had volunteered. Recalls he hated the posting because it was rural and quiet. Dealing with badger baiting. Stayed for 14 months. Recalls he swapped with an officer to Chickford. Territorial support group application and accepted. TSG based Caledonian Road. Remembers traveling across London was not a problem. Remembers the interview and knowing one of the interviewers who suggested he lied about his last arrest. Remembers the interview and not knowing if he was being tested, but he told a white lie. Transferred to TSG.

Track 4:24’40’ Compares role working in Walthamstow and moving to TSG. Recalls the Inspector was very strict and extremely involved in all the new officers activities. Reflects that Walthamstow was great as a probationer because it was busy. Remembers that he was unusual as most probationers were posted to the central divisions, so senior officers had little experience dealing with probationers. Remembers Walthamstow’s street market. Giant pedestrianized precinct. Remembers that the worst job was being posted to the market during the winter, because it was deserted and cold. Inspector kept a close eye on all the probationers out on patrol. Close communication with his officers and the close knit working team. Remembers response of his colleagues when he had his first crown court warning and realizing he had not done a legal aid report or suport report. Calling on his colleagues to get the paperwork done. Remembers it was assumed that he would know what paperwork he would need to do. Reflects that all the older officers would work hard to help if you are in trouble. High level of camaraderie and socializing together. Urgent assistance was an immediate response.

Moving to the TSG was a much closer tight knit group. Formed into a very good team. Two weeks of training, driver training, shield training and team building courses. The work and role was incredibly different. 4 month posting with 3 months in uniform, 4th month was employed as a surveillance team. Reflects on his enjoyment in the new role, taking a more active role targeting criminals. Loved the TSG.

Remembers particular villains: 1 occasion of a man who had escaped from prison. Man hunt. Tip off that the girlfriend knew where he was hiding. Surveillance of the girlfriend. Remembers the girlfriend did everything to avoid surveillance, however she never looked to see them. 2nd incident was London’s number 1 wanted villain at the time. Man was living in Spain and flying to London to do bank robberies. Explains he was at that time an armed shot. SO11 were following him and he was driving a breakdown truck around London to sell stolen cars for scrap. Bow area and positioned as 1 of 2 shots. Surveillance of the scrap yard and organized to apprehend the man. Plain clothed and armed. Remembers reaching the driver in the vehicle and apprehending the man. Recalls the door was very high up. His colleague throws the door open and knocks him on the ground. Recalls his colleague trying to find his bullets that he had dropped in the process of raiding the man. Remembers he only drew his weapon twice and recalls that it actually put his officers in more harms way.

Fire arms training. Area car driver application at Walthamstow and being advised that he would fail because he was too young. Approaching his station commander about the issue and the reality that he would be failed because he was under 22. So the Commander decides that he will send him to fire arms training. Basic training at Paddington and became an authorized shot. Recalls division had to supply shots to protect the helicopter that had now been bought rather than leased for the Commissioner. Protecting the helicopter with his gun. Access to porter cabin at the back. Ad hoc patrol. Remembers this led to his involvement with the dog handlers and dogs. He would sometimes take a dog out on patrol with him, while the handler did other things. Money making sideline of the dog handlers. Later they were given access to the underground bunkers, which had been built in case of nuclear war. Explains in the TSG all the shots were cross-trained to be working with rubber bullets too. Reflects that his level of shooting was never good enough. 

Track 5:6’43’ Special memory about the TSG. Recalls before the TSG he had passed the Sergeants exam. Chasing elusive competitors numbers. Recalls he took a while to pass the exams. On the TSG and holding the pass mark, and heavily into boating and sailing. Application for Thames division. Applied. Accepted to transfer from TSG to Thames and promoted to Sergeant, but great drugs raid at Wood Green just before he was being transferred. They were lacking a sergeant to put together enough teams for the raid. So they set him up as the team TSG sergeant for the raid. Recalls the number of the property was the largest you could find. Remembers put the door in to undertake the raid and finding that the people inside were all very elderly. The interior was dirty and messy. The sons were all arrested, while the father had a heart attack and was sent off in an ambulance. Remembers because there was so much rubbish in the house it took them all day to search the house. Determined to find the drugs in the mess, but could not find anything. Returned to the station and discovered the typist of the station had written the number wrong so they had raided the wrong house. Remembers he had to get a bottle of scotch to deal with the police complaint. 

Track 6:14’58 From TSG to Thames Sergeant. Recalls prior to moving to Thames on promotion he was asked to go to a boat to arrest some people that Thames police had apprehended. (Recording is bad). Recalls he asked the acting Sergeant on the boat when he was retiring, because he was replacing him. He recalls he still had 18 months before retirement and was not impressed. First day at Thames division. Struggling through the door and first officer he meets is the Sergeant he had offended. The Sergeant did a handstand and teased him. First day of admin. Day two you join your first shift. Peculiar relief. Settling in behind the front office and meets the officers. PC Graham ruled the team and told the Sergeant to post him on to a boat. Patrolling on the boats. Weeks boat handling course to learn how to handle the boats. Remembers the instructor was going through a divorce and reflects it was not an enjoyable week. Starting on the job his colleague set him tests.

First dead body. Recalls Thames would take about 50 dead bodies a year. Dedicated dead body officer because it was such a problem. Marchioness disaster. His team was on duty when it happened, but he had taken the weekend off. Returned on 2pm on Wednesday. Recalls the impact on the on duty officers who had had to deal with the event. Post-traumatic stress disorder and the appalling way that the MET dealt with the problem. Leaflet left in the tray for everyone to look at, which meant that peer pressure prevented officers seeking help. Open letter sent to everyone as a thank you letter, which failed to make a special effort to reach out to the officers who had been on duty that night. Cocktail party put on for the officers on duty. Remembers that all officers went. The Duty officer did not realize who had been on duty. Long-term effects left some officers suffering long after the event. Reflects on the life and death decisions that the officers had had to deal with that night. Wednesday late turn and spring high tide meant that all the bodies that had been trapped were washed up. Meant he dealt with many dead bodies for hours to try and collect the 12/13 bodies with the same team. Felt they were not given the support. Press presence made life harder for the officers collecting the bodies. Harbour Master’s important role aiding the officers to keep the press away. Reflects that the photos would never have been released so it was not necessary.

Track 7: 0’56’’ Introduction to second interview of officer 102

Track 8: 7’16’ Incidents on district. Still on probation. Public order event the Grunwick demonstrations. Green bus and taken to Willesdon Green section house. Taken to the event. Recalls the Sergeant partnering off new officers with experienced officers. Describes the process of policing the demonstration. Considers lack of training to prepare officers. Fear and chaos. Incidents during the demonstration; wall collapses on the Commander, heavy banner falls onto the crowd. 26 days at Grunwicks. Describes his annual report and the AQR. Grunwicks offered first introduction to the potential behavior of the public; describes helping a small girl who then kicked him.

Track 9: 4’10’ Policing Walthamstow football matches. Recalls one incident of the crowd rioting in the stands at the football match. Recalls the crowd forced a wall to collapse on police officers and trampled on the police officers that were trapped by the collapsed wall. Terry Cross ordered them to draw sticks to control and part the crowd.

Describes policing one West Ham football match where spectators were not allowed in. Wembley and England games. Public order marches.

Track 10: 7’21’ Sent on Aid mid to late 1970s. Public order events in Brixton and Lewisham. Using dustbin lids to defend themselves. Recalls apprehending a number of youth who were throwing building material at other officers. Another incident on the Green transport bus. Large thud on the back of the bus and realizing after that it was a large axe. Brixton riots in a protected green bus with the driver Fred. Recalls the front windshield was smashed by youths and Fred chased after the perpetrators.

Broadwater Farm riots. Keith Blakelock. Scary. Describes one night in a lift with 1 other colleague and no radio. The lift jammed and a large group of youth were charging towards them. Recalls the nice people on the farm estate and the people who were against the riots.

Track 11: 0’36’ Sergeant on Thames. KNR – policing exams.

Track 12: 17’40’ Sergeant on Thames. Recalls that everyday was facing different conditions and issues. Big learning curve. One incident seeing a boat precariously tied up and seemingly unattended. One boy on the deck. Investigating and finding a man inside with first degree burns. Then discovering the mother in labor. Describes dealing with the situation. Another incident, dealing with a Korean ship and a mutiny. Recalls the terrible state of the ship. Poor living conditions. Compares one man to a Benny Hill comedy character who was immaculately dressed and claimed to be a radio controller. Describes the events leading to the mutiny; immigration issues. Stowaways on board. Englishman arrives with a briefcase chained to his arm from the immigration service. Problem of working with the immigration officer who expected him to detain the Korean shipmates.

His unit was a mixture between a crime and an intelligence unit on Thames division. Explains the role and responsibilities of the unit. Explains they were an important Marine unit to offer advice to other units on marine crime. Set up meetings for other units on practical marine policing. Worked as a Police representative on National committees at the home office concerning marine crimes. Broadened PNC listings for marine policing.

Track 13: 12’56’ 1996 Thames. Chief Inspector Tom Prime worked to create a special operations unit for the marine police. Role in the new unit as the liaison sergeant between intelligence and operations. However, so much work their team was expanded and they undertook all roles. Kings Cross drug problem. Recalls the surveillance operation. Canal boat used to raid the boat and arrest the dealer.

Week boating course. Describes the boats they had for policing. Importance of drug crime. Private pleasure boats and operation in which they placed an officer on a boy at night with night vision. Surveillance and arrest. Another incident of a man dealing drugs no the marina in Woolwich. Steal barrier gate blocked entrance to his boat. Explains that they swam in and raided the boat.

Worked with SO11 and the Crox Teams. Developed policing technics with them; night time raids in adverse conditions. Shared skills to develop techniques. Training and practice of their operation techniques. SO11 state of the art night vision glasses. Explains they succeeded in importing the new night vision glasses.

Security under the bridges; fear of bombs. Pulser searchers.

Track 14: 1’58’ 4th Interview introduction

Track 15: 6’50’ Incident at Walthamstow: open air public car park where there was regular car theft. Describes one resident providing anonymous surveillance for the arrest of the car thieves. The civilians address was at risk of being exposed, so the Commander made him a Special, which ensured he would remain anonymous. His information led to three or four arrests a day. Recalls one incident of the car thieves attempting to steal two cars and transferring machine guns from one car to another. Arresting the men and the guns. Case of pedophiles who had murdered a young boy. Discovered that one of the men arrested in the car incident was the boys uncle and that the men planned to kill the pedophiles.

Track 16: 39’44’ Commendation on the Marine unit. Intelligence team. Team of police officers needed to form a Special Operations Team. Training and developed techniques to perform special operations. Successes apprehending ships. Improve skill levels. Trained to be pulser searcher and industrial climbing aspect. Issue of VIPs crossing bridges in London. His team were trained to search bridges for bombs. Describes the training they received and different places they practiced their climbing skills. Sent to Hounslow to abseil, ascend, transfer horizontally across buildings and self-rescue. Pulsers used them regularly because of their climbing skills; trooping of the colors they had to search nearby structures for bombs and the opening of the Houses of Parliament.

London Eye protest. Rescue capacity of some people who had climbed the London Eye. Recalls working with the MET to negotiate with the illegal climbers of the London Eye. Recalls that they spoke to some of the Protesters and discovered that some were from India and others from Spain. Protesting about their national issues. Requested that they take one of the protesters a telephone to communicate with the officers. Recalls slowly the protestors came done, with the last one being a professional climber who was talking on his mobile to the MET.

Describes scaling the Eye and the issue of climbing the unfinished structure. Remembers being informed that the original ladders were not safe and many had not been replaced. 999 Helicopter sent to the London Eye, which caused more problems. Recalls reaching the protesters at the top and discovering that one had all the professional gear. Late in the afternoon the final two protestors decide to descend. Team used their rescue techniques to help the protestors. Fire patrol spray the protestors on their arrival at the bottom for retribution. Team recommended for commendation. Discovers that various levels of commendations were awarded, which upset the team who all work together equally. Describes his role in questioning the awards. Explains that those who climbed the highest were given better rewards. British Airways invited the team on to the wheel for a pre-opening experience on the London Eye. Describes the enjoyable experience. Commendation ceremony followed and included news footage of their work rescuing the protestors.

Another incident when they had to climb the white cliffs of Dover to recover body parts. Explains the crime incident in which there was a domestic murder case, when the abusive mother was killed by her abused husband. The husband cut the mother into pieces and threw the body parts over the cliffs of Dover. Recalls that the daughters were in the room when their mother was murdered and cut up. Explains the progress of the case after the mother’s head was discovered in a wood by a golf course. Describes the use of helicopters to aid their search. The problems faced searching down the white cliffs of Dover. Describes a hidden ledge on the cliff face and finding animal remains only.

Track 17: 3’05’ Pulser: Police Search Adviser. Team made up of Inspectors and search teams of Sergeants and Constables. Describes the Pulser teams role and responsibility. He was a Pulser search train officer. Describes buildings he had to search; Westminster. Viewing London from rooftops.

Track 18: 10’19’ New Years Eve 1999. Millennium New Years Eve. Team responsible as Pulser search team of the Royal Barge the Queen was going to travel the Thames upon. Searching flood lights, bridges and the Dome. Working with SO19. Role during the celebration as the Queen’s emergency evacuation team. Working throughout the night.

IDP – Inter-district transfer papers. Explains the policy of removing officers to new divisions and receiving his transfer papers. Received the papers on new years eve. Recalls the choice they were offered to request the borough they did want to go to and the borough they did not want to be sent to. Requested not to be sent to Tower Hamlet. Sent to Tower Hamlet. Explains he challenged the human resources department’s decision. Reaction to the decision of the department after 24 years of service.

MET handling of the Marchioness disaster and officers post-traumatic stress. Recalls that only during the trial process years later that counseling was offered.

Track 19: 13’15’ Transfer to Tower Hamlet. Recalls Mick Johnson at the division and him discussing the role he could play in the new division. Put him on a great team with a great Inspector. Considers that working Thames meant that he had not been involved in many basic areas of policing; placed as Section Sergeant, meaning he was out on the ground helping officer. Incident of a possible bomb at a Homeless hostel shelter and recalls dealing with the difficult incident. The Inspector’s over reaction to the case and his role in resolving the issue. Commendation for his role. Explains that he just used his experience and knowledge as a pulser searcher. Explains that it was a hoax bomb. Describes the handling of a homeless man at the crime scene.

Track 20: 9’11’ Custody training course. Lack of custody experience. Eventually took the custody module of the initial sergeants course at Hendon. Explains his custody sergeant and working in custody. Bethnal Green and dealing with 16 cells, 4 detention rooms. Busy work. Limehouse sergeants dislike of working at Bethnal Green. Reflects on time working at custody.

Murder trial and called to the Old Bailey regarding his statement about the arrest and custody of the criminal. Recalls that the paper work had been confused with another officer with the same name Ian Colins. (6’00). Describes ongoing confusion because they shared the same name. Describes the custody incident and organizing a phone call for a Jamaican prisoner. Records the phone call.

Track 21: 0’52’ Fifth interview introduction of officer 102.

Track 22: 15’49’ Becoming a sergeant in the dog section. Application process. Base sergeant. 5 units across London. Transferred at Claygate House, North-East London, June 2002. Inspector in charge of unit, base sergeant and 4 teams headed by their own sergeant dog handler. Describes extended team, role and responsibility. Dog handlers. Fostered puppies. Describes complications of the dog handling program within the MET. Replacing old dogs, puppies and transition. Injury of dogs; one incident of a dog being poisoned whilst searching for a missing child. Describes a man from Turkey catching birds and setting out poison to kill foxes. Killed the dog. Meant that there was a continued need for puppies. Farming out of puppies to foster parents. Bitches for breeding. Describes his last puppy and taking his dogs to Canada. Describes issues for police dogs that do not become working dogs. Explains fostering his last dog, training failures and eventual adoption as a pet. Premature retirement of another officers dog and the process of breaking the dogs bond with its previous owner. Suicide of the officer. Suspension of his Inspector. Issue of the officer’s involvement of smuggling cigarettes. Retired as an Inspector even though his title was sergeant. Worked as a temporary Inspector to cover the Inspector on leave due to the inquiry. Issue of Inspector work for retirement and pension salary. Complication of working as a temporary Inspector and working overtime. Suspension of the officer and Inspector. Describes the crime that they had committed; smuggling cigarettes and investigation by the CID. Inflated newspaper reports. Requested that he looked after the dead officer’s dog. March 2007 retired.

Track 23: 4’22’ Application for a mass body recovery team. Began at Heathrow airport and officers sent to Lockerby incident. This led to the expansion of the training of a body recovery team. Describes entry requirement. Explains why he was interested in working on the team recovering dead bodies. Little impact on him personally. 2002 training for the team at Bramshill. 12/14 hour days because lectures given late in the evening. Describes the course and experience.

Called to respond to Indonesia Tsunami.

Track 24: 1’31’ Continues to describe the request that he be sent to Indonesia to respond to the Tsunami. However, he was not available.

Response team to London bombings. Describes waiting for deployment. Tony Cassady.

Track 25: 3’21’ Dead body identification officer was Tony Cassady. Sent to Aldgate Station to recover and tag dead body parts after the London terrorist bombing. Issue of working with other teams working with other aspects of the incident. Working relationship and finding body bits. Considers the amount of bodies he had to recover. Describes the wreckage scene and how dead bodies were spread over the area.

Track 26: 9’37’ Continues to describe bagging and tagging dead bodies at Aldgate Station after the London bombings. Describes issue of clothing being destroyed and other blast damage on bodies. Refrigerated lorry. Portable mortuary established on scene. Unmarked meat lorry used to load the dead bodies. Considers the recovery and removal process of the bodies. Describes Aldgate station compared to other underground stations that had no air-flow. Describes the protocol for recording body recovery. Identifying body parts. Discovering that they had an extra victim through their body recovery work and identifying the bomber. Explains his requirements for accessing the bodies and working in the wreckage. Working hours. Demands of the work.

Turning the crime over to the British transport Police and issue of equipment and items disappearing.

Track 27: 8’17’ Describes working in the underground environment, long hours and working conditions. Help from the general public. Food support and local Church set up a food hall for the officers working long hours. Recalls missing signs and relatives searching for lost ones. Issue of not being able to offer information to these relatives. Describes mobile phones ringing in the wreckage scene. Recalls issue of dealing with the Aldgate junction, where nearby tracks continued to operate. 11 days working at Aldgate. BTP continued work after they had finished. Describes BTP’s work disinfecting the area and his ideas to improve their work. He used human remains search dogs. Body recovery dogs used to check that they had thoroughly recovered all remains. Received a Commissioners commendation for his police work at Aldgate.

Track 28: 1’09’ Emigration to Canada after 1 month in retirement. Explains why they decided to move to Canada.

Track 29: 10’44’ Describes the qualifications and careers he and his wife sought in Canada. Considered becoming a teacher’s assistant like his wife. Describes the area of Canada they moved to and the property they bought. 2005 bought in Canada. Describes the process of organizing the move. Issue of renewing passports and gaining visas. Describes the learning experience. May 2007 moved to Canada. Thriving camping, caravan and self catering cottage business. Explains his children at the time of the move. His youngest son moved to a local Canadian school. Culture shock. Explains the progress of his sons and their career ambitions. Describes the Canadian police service; Mounties Federal police, provisional police, voluntary police. One son decided to join the Canadian MET and another Son pursued a law career. Son working at the Superior Court at Ottowa.


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