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My early Police days ..............

Mervyn Mitton




This being a quiet Sunday afternoon - overcast and cold (19o C this morning) - it seems a good time to start
this new Blog entry.
My earlier ones have had good readership - the one on Wartime years is now over 8000 views. I appreciate that
many of these are from Google - virtually everything we write is picked-up and published under different headings.

I have had this idea for a while - and perhaps our Members will find it of some interest ? I joined the Metropolitan
Police in 1967 and served for 7 years in London's East End. This makes it 46 years ago and a lot has happened in that time.
The Police of today do not have a great deal in common with those earlier years.

One quick word of explanation - these days Police tend to call themselves Police Officers. Technically, this is correct.
Police are Officers of the Court. All Police have the same basic powers of arrest - be they very senior officers or,
constables. The intermediate rank is Sergeant - followed by Inspector and up-wards. From Inspector they are Officers of
Police, since they have supervisory rank.


In 1829 the Home Secretary, together with the PrimeMinister - the Duke of Wellington - and the Lord Chancellor,
brought into being - through an Act of Parliament - the Metropolitan Police. The Dublin Police had been the first
Force and had been succesful - there had also been a few other early small Forces. However, Policing as we know
it, really does start with the Metropolitan when they first 'Marched Out' in 1829. They were the first civilian Force
and grew to be very much part of the Community they lived-in. Previous overseas forces had been an arm of the
Governments i.e. para-military units.

When I first joined there were some 28,000 uniformed and plain clothes Police - plus - approx. another 15,000
civilian staff. I am not sure of the totals in 2013 - however, even with the cutbacks it must be higher.

The rank of Constable is a very old one - and is still used in a non-police capacity. For example - the Governor of
the Tower of London - always a very senior retired officer - is the Constable of the Tower. It is thought the word
is of Roman origin and was possibly the Comes Stabuli or, Count of the Stables for the Emperors. I do not intend
getting too technical - these are just quick explanations to give you a background.

The British are a very conservative people and our earlier Policing has come down directly from the Anglo-Saxons.
There are still words and traditions being used that are over 1200 years old. The US Sheriff and the Sheriff's Posse
are in fact English and the Sheriff was the King's representitive in the County. Parish and Town Constables were
the main form of public control and in 1829 the one million inhabitants of London were under only some 4000 Night
Watch and Parish Constables. The first time the word Police was used officially was with the Dublin Police Act of the

Scotland has just become one unified Force and I expect the politicians would like to do the same for England and Wales.
Hopefully, they will be stopped. Separate Forces that understand the inhabitants of their areas are - in my opinion -
greatly preferable to one conglomerate.


My family had emigrated to Australia after World War 2 - as did many British people . I had cousins in Australia and
through them my Father was able to get me admittance to Geelong - Australia's senior Public School. I have always
been very proud to have been there and to be able to call myself an Aussie. Very unpretentious people - but so
When I left School I didn't want to go to University - the pressures weren't the same in those days and I couldn't see
the point of a degree when I wasn't going into a profession. Instead I was accepted by the top Advertising Company
in the World - J.Walter Thompson. In my entire life I have never been asked for a ref. or to produce any previous
work. A telephone call was all it took from your boss. How different the World is today - my god-daughter spent
the whole of last Saturday taking 4 accountacy exams.

Cutting a long story short - after all, I am leading up to why I joined the Met. Police - I worked 4 years in South Africa
in the 1950's - returned to live in Brisbane and was 'headhunted' to work in Thailand for 3 1/2 years - in advtg.. I
returned to the UK on 6 month's home leave and was again asked to run an advtg. agency in Sierra Leone, West Africa.
I was there for two years - still a safe place in those days - but I still have recurring Malaria from those days.
I returned to live in Bournemouth and was considering an offer of another overseas posting - however, I was 30 at
that time and you could not join the Police in London unless you had British citizenship, had been 6 months in the
Country and were not over 31.

This forced me to a serious decision. I had wanted to serve in the Australian Army and had been selected for Duntroon
(their off's trng. school) . My Father had refused to sign , so that went 'out the window' - however , the British
Police - particularly London had always been an interest. Hesitate - and I would be over acceptance age.



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I'm glad to see that you are recording your interesting career here on GMIC.

Over the years I've come to know a good deal of your background through our freindship outside of the forum and have often thought this would make a great story to be shared with the membership.

I look forward to reading more.



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