Friends of the

Metropolitan Police History

Officer 18

Location of interview:Kent

Officer's Gender:Male

Date joined Met Police: 4 January 1977

Date left Met Police:24 July 2009

Rank of leaving:Constable

Divisons served:P (Lewisham)

Specialist service:Thames Division / Marine Support Unit.

Transcript of interview

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Track 2: 24’19”: Life before joining the Metropolitan Police Service.  Chislehurst, Kent in wealthy family.  Failed 11 plus and went to Edgebury Secondary Modern School.  Passed O’Levels and went to Coopers School.  Left School and went to work on building sites for 18 months.  Met first wife  while  had  applied  to  join  the  Navy.   Wife  got  application  form  for  Metropolitan  Police Service.  Temporary perception  of  enrolment.   Delayed  joining from  1976  to  1977.   Training: Paddington Green sworn in and sent to Hendon for 12 weeks of training and then to Durham for 2 weeks, before return to Hendon.  Posted to Lewisham.  Too full up to supply section house.  Living in Chislehurst and posted to Lewisham.  Reflections on Durham: accommodation built by local Poulson involved in 1970s scandals.  Incidents and memories of training: 3 five week periods (junior, middle and senior).  Recalls Inspector Murray.  Working in Lewisham.  Lack of enthusiasm for work and desire to stick it out until the end of his probation.  Problem of bullying.  Lack of experienced  officers.   Enjoyment  after  2  years.   Remained  in  Lewisham  division:  Brockley, Lewisham and Deptford.  Working on murder inquiry.  Lifestyle in CID led to his decision to return to Relief work.   Enjoyment working on Relief.  Area car driver after 6 years.  Accidents.  View of Lewisham as hard area to Police.  Senior officers: John Smith, John Hoddinott and John Grieve. Grieve’s role in raiding black robbers, called the Lewisham 24, prior to the Lewisham riots in August 1977.  Involvement in arresting Lewisham 24 and Leroy Merrit, nicknamed 'cat weasel' now serving time for murder.  Lack of training and equipment to support them.  Electric atmosphere in Lewisham.  Was meant to be working in Millwall, but most sent to Lewisham High Street in front of the shields.  First time shields were used. Actions of the rioters.  Also discusses the march along New Cross Road to Lewisham between the BNF march and their clash with Anti-Nazi League, which led to Shield training of officers. Shield training experiences:  Metropolitan Police Service replacement of cork hat with fibre glass.  Testing process of throwing bricks at people’s heads.   Memorable times on the beat: one of the first officers on scene of the New Cross Fire when black kids died.  Controversial event and inquest.  Recalls attending the fire: mayhem and panic.  13 people died.   Dealing with the incident: getting people to ambulances.  Arrival of senior officers only after the event occurred.  Black Blues noisy party problem for community.  Explains the beginning of the New Cross fire: Burglary leading to fire, father of a white police officer spots the fire and after being told to leave he left to tell the police.  Other incidents: Miners Strike three times, Wivenhoe, Brighton bomb attack against Margaret Thatcher, Molesworth, Greenham Common. Treatment of the minors: Enfield Barracks in York.  Return to London and having to stop at Hendon after luggage was lost: incident in local pub when asked to leave because it was a recruits party. Having to stand in a corner and not speak to anyone.  Drifield: posting into derelict housing.  Poor living conditions.  Postings to Kent coalfields, Wivenhoe in Essex and then Tory party in Brighton. Women Relief officers: impressions of their skills and aggression.  Jury protection: major arms deal during Iran/Iraq war.  Family called Arif.   Duggan Arif now in jail as an armed robber.  Explains jury protection duty.  Recalls first juror he protected: socializing.  Drugs job in Deptford and having to park outside a Tower block in Milton Court estate in Deptford.   Trial of DC Fordham killed by Kenneth Noye    Recalls that he was found not guilty, but since then he has been convicted of murder.  Remembers perks of the job near Lords Cricket Ground.  Protection duty on council estate: Deptford post war high rise council estates, dangers of attack when on duty on estate, preventing violence.  Incident in Peckham of a PC having an engine thrown at him.

Track 3: 6’45”:  Life on the beat: dangers and close calls.  Incident working back from the Coach and Horses and being held up at gun point. Arresting the man. Explains ‘Pappa’ meaning area car postings meaning P division. Driving P7, received call in the middle of the night to a block of flats in Deptford Church Street. Samurai sword coming straight through the door and arresting the man. States that Police training saved their lives. Having a knife put to his throat before he escaped. Talks of prisoner's brother who killed his girl friend. Explains the punishment given to these people. Shootings and murders: Kidbrooke Park Road shooting, recalls seeing the murder victim who was the uncle of an old school friend, related to the Kray family. Families on the river related to the gang land. Dangers for Police officers doing community policing. Ethnic minority (BME) officers: Dave Michaels in Lewisham on the Crime Squad and eventually became inspector and later was the first officer involved in suing the Metropolitan Police Service.

Track 4: 37’44”: Prejudice and discrimination: little contact with the problem.  Metropolitan Police Service institutionally racist to a degree, but puts it down to education and experience. Says problems to women and not ethnic minorities: gender roles and dissemination of duties. Limited opportunities to women into the 1990s. Community relations: Left wing Lewisham created a problematic relationship with the police service. Talks about refusal to allow police into child homes or youth clubs. Young West Indian Youth crime against whites. Utilising youth clubs to hide crimes. Time off duty: rugby. Predominance of work: long hours and over time. Pub and work. Impact on home life: divorce and a number of relationships until current 25 year relationship. Moving to Thames and lack of overtime. No arrests or public order. Appeal to Thames after serious car accidents leading to medical problems. Area car and cad work. Lack of exercise when working the beat because of the use of cars. Seeking a posting on the Thames. Pushed when they introduced sector policing in Lewisham: destroying the Reliefs and the arrival of neighbourhood teams. Training to Thames: intense, boat masters license, written qualifications on navigation, fire fighting, sea survival, first aid, advance power boat driving. 6 week training to drive in the Metropolitan Police Service. Discusses investment placed in teaching Thames service.  Patrolling in Wapping: 153 officers. Dissemination of resources across the area. Jump boat: Waterloo Police station and waterside officer. Closure of divisions and boats today: GLA formation led to downsizing. Discusses character of all the different stations on the Thames. Incidents: backwater and limited action. Implications of 9/11 on policing and need for police boats in London. Suicides off bridges and recovering bodies: reduction in number of bodies. Major function was linked to DPG (19) for the protection of the high value buildings in central London: Parliament, MOD, MI5, MI6 etc. Discusses lack of protection of the major buildings on the Thames. Varied nature of job: pleasure boats, underage drinking. Considers news today. Tower Pier and dispute involving the Captain of the Millennium Boat who died of a heart attack when he intervened in a dispute between two men in a dispute. Man sentenced for manslaughter. Changes in Uniform: jackets, helmets, Thames uniform. Relations between the Metropolitan Police Service and Thames expressed in uniform. Introduction of the yellow jacket and life jackets. Introduction of Blues uniform.  History of Metropolitan Police Service strikes: establishment of the Police Federation rather than Trade Union. Health and safety issues. Helicopter meetings.  Discipline  problems  against  himself. Special equipment: Basic truncheon, development to hand cuffs, spray. Changes in boats: arrival of Targas and ribs increasing the speed and comfort of the boats. Radio equipment: Lewisham first station to have the radio. National computer in Lewisham. Cars: Austin, discusses appearances and models of the cars used. SD1 Rovers. Crime patterns. Incident on the Thames: High profile nature of incidents. Brazilian sailing ship arriving with 2 dogs causing rabies concerns. Chief vet of the City of London intervened to demand dogs be kept below deck. One of the dogs was in the Guinness book of records for the most traveled dog. Escalation of affair to a full diplomatic incident. Types of crime dealt with by the Thames police: up to the high water mark. Changes in the Thames police service. New name, Marine Policing Unit, different structure and change in numbers of officers.

Track 5: 13’22":  Area Car driving: serious accidents.  1983 lost control of car.  3 years later Police chase led to smashed car and physical injuries. Dangerous environment of Thames police work. Became Police Federation representative. Introduction of tenure policy and moving older officers to other divisions. Eventual lack of skilled staff. Undertaking training of RIB driving. Eventually leading to an incident in 1988 of a crash with a RIB. Discusses putting in a report after physical injury, which led to retirement suggestion. Change of plans led to treatment rather than immediate retirement. Problems of working in Thames with disabilities. Reacted to disability discrimination act: threatened an employment tribunal. Doctor argued his case to go back to the Thames and drive the fast boats.  Spent last 4 years on A Relief in Wapping.  Success story fighting Metropolitan Police Service treatment of him after being injured.  Preparation for retirement after 32  years service: building a garage, financial security and future working life. Family associations with Police service. Middle class family background: University of other members. Family’s aversion to his decision to join the Metropolitan Police Service. 17 relatives found to have been Metropolitan Police Service officers after undertaking a family tree. Nephew now joined the Metropolitan Police Service. Life in retirement and relations with the community. Contact with Lewisham and Wapping officers: socializing with retired officers.  Sense of loss in retirement.

Track 6: 5’13”: Complaints by members of the public: average of 2 complaints a year.  Assault complaints. Assesses. Reason for moving to Wapping from Lewisham was following complaint from Dover Castle Pub in Deptford. Bottle assault at gay pub and victim's violent reaction to officers attempting to help him and eventual arrest. Court proceedings and interview leading to Chief Superintendent wishing to make an example of him as a political scapegoat. Other complaints: sudden death incident because refusal to lift the body back on to the bed to protect the son. No complaints for racism or bad language. All for assault for arresting people. Discusses incidences when he did assault people.

Track 7: 5’18”: Dealing with complaints.  Lewisham riots complaint and being served a 163. Incident of arresting a drunk and doctor witnessing the drunk falling over and breaking his arm. Complaint incident of fight in Brockley Road, taking man to hospital after pub fight. Inevitability of complaints for PCs. Vicious complaints process and how discipline was implemented. Discusses discipline of officer who drove the rib that injured him and the  procedure  of  this incident. Injustice of the Metropolitan Police Service. Discusses the complaints department: divisions and A10.

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