Friends of the

Metropolitan Police History

Officer 116

Location of interview:North Kent

Officer's Gender:Male

Date joined Met Police:14 June 1976

Date left Met Police:24 April 1994

Rank of leaving:Constable

Divisons served:

Specialist service:No specialities

Transcript of interview

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Track 2: 22’46’:  Life before joining the MET.  One of 4 children.  Mother was a housewife.  Father was a fitter in a paper mill.  Left school age 15.  Worked in housing department for the local council.  Applied and accepted to Kent constabulary in January 1969.  Training school at Uckfield in Surrey.  District training school.  Posted to Margate, Kent.  Detective constable to Canterbury.  Joined the MET in 1976.  Explains reasons for joining the MET; Disillusioned, dislike working in CID, MET were actively recruiting.

Brief overview with MET police.  No training school.  Paddington green recruitment centre and posted to Southwark police station.  Limited knowledge of London.  Sent to Carter Street Station.  Learning to navigate London.  Stayed at Carter Street until he retired in 1994.

Describes courses and training he undertook during his career.  Service as a divisional PC on relief.  Crime desk.  Control room.  Relief policing organization and changes.  Working your beat.  Walking.  Booking in.  Duties and responsibilities.  Equipment; truncheon.  Duty officer supervision.  Night duty.  Describes his beat ground; densely populated with 1960s estates.  Haygate estate and Aislebury estate with 4000 families per block.  Predominantly large high rise flats with high levels of poverty and crime.  Burglaries, theft.  Murders.  Recalls 4 murders at the same time.  M-division.  The Richardsons and the Great train robbery.  Limited ethnic minorities.  Domestic incidents of crime.  Domestic disputes tended to lead to limited police involvements.

Shock and adjustment to working on M-division after Kent police work.  Dealing with high crime.  Demanded the maturation of police officers. Reaction of colleagues to his background in the Kent police.  Learning on the job, such as the different language used within the MET police force.  High danger level meant great team work.  WPCs.  Integrated and working alongside male officers.  WPCs were used to deal with sexual offences. Describes his colleagues in M-division working the beat; young officers.

Crimes.  Beat crimes and major crimes that were taken over by CID.  Relationship with CID.  Large CID department.  Advise from colleagues.  Enjoyment of his police work.  Considers the work and caliber of the CID officers.  Interaction with other specialist departments; Flying Squad.

Track 3: 7’42’:  Local characters.  Explains that due to his long duty in the same division he established a close connection with the community and a great knowledge of the people.  Describes a couple that would have tea with him in a block of flats by the East Street Market.   Market traders and the tradition of the market trade.  Well known criminals; Richardsons.  Recalls that the local criminals were polite to PCs.  Limited prostitution.    Gambling clubs and getting to know the people involved in the scene.  Greeks.  Tea and refreshments with local characters.  Dealing with members of the public that he had previously arrested and had been convicted.  Explains that there was no intimidation or bad relationship due to police work.

Track 4: 6’49’:  Contact with schools as the Home beat officer.  Recalls visiting schools.  Youth clubs.  PC Harry Cole involvement in youth clubs.  Explains that he was not involved.  Churches and social clubs.  St Charles Church.  Culture of non-assistance to the police.  Relationship of M-division with the wider post.  Limited interaction with other divisions.  Limited awareness about Carter Street police station.  Night duty and overtime.

Track 5: 6’37’:  Events of the New Cross Fire in Deptford.  13 black youths died in the fire and the subsequent protest march.  Policing the march, which began at the scene of the fire and went towards Hyde Park.  Describes the growth in the size of the march during the course of its progress.  Fleet street looting.  Role of the police to control order.  Hit on the head by a rubbish bin lid.  Nurse on the scene attended to him and he went to Middlesex hospital.  Recalls other officers that were injured.  Chief Superintendent who came to visit him.  Disorder during the march.  Presence of the West Indian community in the march.

Track 6: 15’56’:  Continues to discuss the protest from Deptford to Hyde Park.  Considers the disorder and people involved who were intent on criminal behavior. Brixton Riots.  Describes the scene and policing the disorder.  Violence against the police.  Equipment; dustbin lids and truncheons.  Considers the preference not to use police truncheons.  Organization of command and control.  Discusses the lack of communication, direction and slow arrival of police support.  SPG support.  Kent constabulary support.  Lack of public order training.  Length of duty during the riots.  Team work and supporting other officer regardless of age, service and rank. 1976 sent to Notting Hill Carnival.  Describes the escalation of the disorder.  The over turning of a transit van transporting police.  Reinforcements.  Long shift work.  Responding to the public violence.  Limited public order training.

Tottenham Riots and PC Blakelock.  Working as a Chief Superintendent’s driver.  Not involved in the public order incident.  Reaction to PC Blakelock’s murder. 

Track 7: 13’11’:  Miner’s strike.  Worked extended hours and 17 weeks.  Describes the protocol for posting officers to the strike.    Sent to Nottingham.  Escorted in a coach from Hendon.  Accommodation at military bases with basic facilities.  Working hours.  Policing the early shift in the mines.  Considers the scary events, but limited action overall.  Catering of the police officers.  Playing a game of cricket on a motorway.  Explains the salary allocation for 16 hours a day.  Social life during the time he worked at the miner’s strike.  Considers that the strike was not as bad as was reported.

Considers the MET’s reaction to public order events.  Explains that huge numbers of officers were used for marches.

Track 8: 20’05’: Reflections on his career and changes in the police officer’s role.  Considers his early ambition as a child to become a policeman.  Changes in the police uniform and equipment.  Change in the pace of the job.  Protection of the suspect and the police officer.  Considers that although the pension between a PC and a Sergeant was significant, he wished to remain a PC.  He enjoyed the role of the PC.  Life in retirement and living outside the MET.  Family of retired police officers.

Carter Street police station moved to a new station called Walworth police station.  Considers the wider MET view of Carter Street station.  Senior police officers experience at Carter Street and the dislike amongst MET officers for Carter Street.

Introduction of computers into the MET.

Final thoughts about his career in the MET.  Foot police force.  Decision not to specialize.  Broader knowledge of community policing.  Limited financial benefits for police officers today compared to his early career.  Margaret Thatcher and the allocation of police pay rise.

Complexity of police work and dealing with people.  Problem working in a busy division and dealing with multiple criminal incidents in a shift, yet maintaining good relations with the public.  Considers the important qualities required for a police officer.  Explains how police officers dealt with the challenges and emotional demands of the job.

1985 wife died.  Explains how he coped with her death and returning to police work.  Describes the humor of his colleagues and support from police officers.  Considers his working relationship with his peers.  Working with Inspectors.  Role of the Chief Inspector.


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