Farewell: “The best job in uniformed policing”

I’ve spent the last three years as a full-time frontline Police Constable with the bulk of it spent working in Clapham and Brixton. I’ve especially loved being your Dedicated Ward Officer, covering Clapham Common Ward. It is quite possibly the best job in uniformed policing: being able to work with and for the community, to have a degree of autonomy and responsibility, to take ownership of a beat and to build relationships with an entire community. It is therefore with a heavy heart that I’ve decided it is time to move on and I’ll be leaving in early May.

It has been great to fight crime, to prevent crime, to send drug dealers to prison, to stand alongside courageous professionals, to use stop and search to make London safer, to make a child’s day, to help those in need, to let hardworking families get a night’s sleep, to make the roads safer, to make a very real difference and to be welcomed and accepted as part of the community.

It has also been phenomenal to have enormous support and backing from so many local residents at community meetings, but especially while out on the street and the local estates. A lot of the support may have been in the form of a hurried whisper out of view in a stairwell, but it meant all the more to me for the courage it took to say the words.

Support and backing has also come from fellow officers. When I’ve needed backup at 4am or 4pm, whether it has been Lambeth colleagues, dog handlers, the Territorial Support Group (TSG), armed colleagues or colleagues from just across the border in Wandsworth, they’ve always had my back and I like to think I’ve had theirs.

It has obviously been “less fun” to be hated, to be assaulted, to suffer broken ribs, to be spat at, to be verbally abused, to be racially abused, to be homophobically abused, to be ambushed in the dock, to be treated with contempt, to be called a paedophile, to be called a Nazi, to be called a racist, to see charges dropped, to be complained about, to be shot at, to see some of the sentences, to bang your head against a brick wall (sometimes repeatedly, nearly always metaphorically), to be but a number to some or a uniform to others, to be second-guessed by those with little or no idea and to not have enough hours in the day or days in the week. Perhaps, sadly, in 2016 it’s all par for the course.

In 2012, writing for The Guardian, I asked:

“is there any more crucial or noble pursuit than the maintenance of law, order and public safety?”

I knew the answer then and I know it now. Through it all, thick and thin, for better or worse, the answer to that question will never change. It’s the reason I became a Special Constable and gave my time freely. It’s the reason I joined full-time. It’s the reason we, as hard-working individuals committed to public safety, will always – in spite of the personal risks – strive to do our best for each other and the public at large.

Photo Credit: @NPASLondon

About the Author

PC Rory Geoghegan
I was the Dedicated Ward Officer for Clapham Common Ward in the London Borough of Lambeth until May 2016. I’m a former strategy consultant and criminal justice researcher. As a Dedicated Ward Officer I was something of a foot and cycle patrol fanatic! All views expressed are/were personal opinions and the usual disclaimers apply.

9 Comments on "Farewell: “The best job in uniformed policing”"

  1. Good luck with whatever comes next Rory! Thanks for all the help.

  2. Rory – leaving the job or just the post?

  3. Shaun Barrett | 17 April 2016 at 6:46 pm | Reply

    Sorry to hear you are departing as we are neighbours (WW@Lavender Hill). Hope it works out wherever you go.

  4. Where to Rory, still in policing I hope

  5. What an inspirational person. Could more be done to highlight the complex work of the police organisation and others to keep us safe? I had no idea until reading this

  6. It is right that you should leave the MPS because you obviously are not made for the job as so many others. You do not have to have much of a brain because the job does get tedious. I spent a lot of time on compulsory Embassy duty and it does not help if you have a brain.

  7. your comments are so true i retired from the met in 2008 after 30 years dr dd 8tsg fh tx not forgetting personal life divorces etc you are cannon fodder i will never suggest to my grandchildren to join well done to those who carry on Anyone thinking of joining get a trade or back up job first its not the job it once was.thanks

  8. Mike Wilkins | 30 May 2016 at 12:22 pm | Reply

    An erudite and impassioned plea for better policing. Sadly the senior ranks in ‘modern’ policing are filled with people who never ever got their hands dirty and concentrated on learning to pass interviews and flitted from department to department so they could claim specialist service to assist their search for higher rank. You could probably count on the fingers of one hand the senior ranks who have ever seen the proverbial angry man on a Friday night and God forbid they ever took part in meaningful and often dangerous operations. The cult of the ‘manager’ should be stopped asap and people who can actually ‘police’ should be back running the show.

  9. Rory, Can I wish you and your new Centre for Public Safety the very best. Your work is much-needed. Perhaps one day you might be able to return to policing – it is clearly a role you loved and were pretty good at! J x

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