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My Early Police Days................ Part 2

Mervyn Mitton




Several people have asked me why I decided to do a Blog on this subject. There is no particular reason - I
have mainly started it to support this Forum section - we haven't had any longer ones for a while. I also
thought that members who have not served in the Police might find it of some interest ? Police are the most
visible of our support Services - in fact we take them as part of everyday life - however, few people know
the training and experience that goes into doing the job well.

Whilst I write from my own experiences - every young Policeman has gone through virtually the same learning
curve. Experience and knowledge come with training and with help from your colleagues. Please do remember
that my training days were a long time ago - things have greatly changed since then.




So, one summer's morning in July 1967 saw me at the Metropolitan Recruiting Centre in Borough High Street, on
the South Bank of the Thames. They gave me enough forms to fill a small bag and I went off to fill them-in. This
was quite a task - every period of my life had to be accounted for - and addresses and contact information given.
I was 30 at this time and had worked and been at School, in a number of Countries so, this was no easy task.

Eventually it was completed and sent off - and I stalled on the job in HongKong to see what would happen. Month
followed month and I had heard nothing - I phoned to see if they wanted me - "Yes, we do - but where were you
for 6 months in 1963 ?" I hadn't a clue - back to old desk diaries - and Yes, I was saved. I hadn't been in Prison
for 6 months as they must have thought , but had been on 6 months paid leave from Thailand. They checked on this
and I was accepted after a medical.

This wasn't the usual quick one - but was very thorough. I had an op. scar behind one ear - could this cause problems
if I was hit on the head - I had no plans to be hit on the head - so didn't think it would be a problem. I ended up having
tests of some type and all was well.

Late in September I packed a bag and reported to Peel House. This was one of the original training schools for the Met.
- if not the First. It was a very dingy old building - in a street of equally unpleasant old houses behind Victoria Railway
Station. I think that if I had known what was ahead with accomodation I would have run off to HK.

We were welcomed and warned that we would be bussed to Hendon Police College every morning - and return to sleep
at Peel House every night. The bus trip took over an hour each way. Peel House was as rough inside as it looked outside.
However, my 'class' were delightful - and in the face of adversity we 'bonded' and shared our problems. Forty seven
years later I am still close friends with several of them - and even a 'Godfather' to one of their children.

The nicest thing about Peel House was that the walls of the Hallways were covered with old decorated truncheons and
tipstaffs. I spent hours looking at them and working out which areas thay had been for. Later, after the building was
demolished they were taken to Bramshill Training College (for senior police around the Country). When I visited there
to research my book I was able to see them still stacked in the basement.

There had been a period for the Police in England and Wales when recruitment was put on hold - rather similar to the
present situation. I was in the first in-take after this ruling was relaxed - and we were a double class. exMilitary were able
to join up until their 38th year - we were 20 in total and the appointed classleader was from the Welsh Guards. He was
a great help to us all - I often wonder what happened to him - he would be 84 today.

Came the Monday morning and we were on a bus trying to cross London in rush-hour. When we reached Hendon - way
on the other side of London - we were met by our class instructor. Nice chap - he was a sergeant and if I remember had
a young family, so he had volunteered to be an instructor for a few years - this way he could keep normal hours.

The first job was that we were taken to stores and issued with our uniforms. The Met. take pride in having well fitted
uniforms and tailors were on hand to arrange any alterations. Two helmets, one flat cap, winter uniforms, summer uniforms,
winter greatcoats, summer raincoats , car coats, leather note book covers - and so the list went on. I remember that I
didn't walk out - I staggered. And we still had to get it back across London on a bus. We did not have whistles, armbands
or, truncheons at this time . Neither did we have a warrant card. The numerals on our shoulder straps were TS with the
number underneath. This stood for Training School - we were warned not to get involved in any police actions - as we
weren't one yet.................

We had a week to fit our uniforms and get used to wearing them - imagine 20 of us trying to get access to the iron ! Like
any body of recruited men, these times of worry were the founding of friendships for years to come.

The following Monday we were checked for correct uniform and marched to a classroom. We were shown how to sit at
attention - shortly after were called to stand at attention and an Assistant Commissioner was escorted into the room by the
Chief Superintendent of the College. He welcomed us - wished us well and proceeded to 'Swear' us in as Constables
of Her Majesty's Police. This was known as the Attestation Ceremony and from that point on we had the same powers
as trained Police Officers.

For better - or worse - certainly worse for any criminals I was to come across - I was now a Policeman.
Good God - what had I done.......................



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I would love my Father In Law to do something similar he joined SYP or East Ridings as it was called back in the early 60s I joined more recently :-)

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A good point has just been made. My father talked and talked about writing down his war-time experiences in the RCAF but never got around to it. On the other hand it is a shame that I didn't take the time to interview him and record his story myself. There are so many aspects of military and police service that goes beyond the "on duty" events such as the training and interaction with ones fellow officers that is lost with the passing of the person.

Thank you for taking ths step for recording the events of your service, Mervyn.



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Fascinating stuff...

Never got that far. I actually applied to Cheshire Constabulary in 1984. As you recount, a long form to fill in accounting for every waking moment... then you had to go to the local police station to be weighed and measured! I reckon this was as much a test of 'bottle' as wanting to know your dimensions as they'd recently dropped height requirements. I certainly waited until there wasn't anyone else around before going up to the enquiry desk and telling the desk officer what I wanted.

Fate intervened. They lost my paperwork, & I had to fill it all out again. Then I got called for the physical tests, at the then training college in Crewe (it's flats now - and was originally an Ursuline Convent before the police had it).

Then they lost my paperwork again. I think that's when I gave up & took some other job... and eventually found my way into computing.

I doubt I'd have made a particularly good police officer anyway....

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