Fife Constabulary

25th September 1975 to 24th September 2005

Plenty highs and a few lows, but looking back... 30 enjoyable years.

Here is a picture taken on my last day in uniform (Friday 12th August 2005), which as most Scots know, is called the "Glorious Twelfth" as it marks the start of the Grouse Shooting Season... don't suppose the Grouse think it's so glorious!

It was nice to get out of the Office and get behind the wheel of a Traffic Car again.  Far too few of them on the roads these days.  "Safety Cameras" do not deter or detect: bad driving; drink driving; disqualified driving; travelling criminals.  Nor do they serve as "education by example" or raise the profile of policing to reassure the public.  Oops, and I said I would not speak my mind... but some things need to be said.

A quick look back at (Police) life...

My family and I stay in our own, modernised, terraced, 18th Century house in a quiet street in Cupar.  We bought the property in January/February, 1981, whilst staying in Police Authority housing in Newburgh.

I have one younger sister who is married to a retired Fife Police Officer, they reside in Cellardyke, but other than this there has never been a family connection with the Police Service.  I was originally brought up in Kirkcaldy in Fife, attending the West Primary School till I was 6 years old, when my parents bought their own home in the town, necessitating a transfer to Fair Isle Primary School.  On completion of primary education I moved onto Kirkcaldy High School where I gained Ordinary, Higher and Sixth Years Studies SCE certificates.  My school studies indicated that I had a flair for the sciences rather than languages or art, and although I have subsequently produced numerous scale drawings and plans of road accidents, I cannot even draw a straight line without the aid of a ruler.

During the middle period of High School I was dissuaded, by my parents, from following them into the teaching profession, although I had considered pursuing this career relating to biology or physics.  I decided, during the latter period at school, to become a Dentist and subsequently, having obtained the required SCE certificates, joined the medical faculty at Edinburgh University attending the Dental College.  However my first years involvement, combined with two summers working as a medical orderly at Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, changed my mind and I realised that I did not wish to spend the rest of my working life looking into other peoples mouths, treating their neglect.

Whilst at Edinburgh I became friendly with the son of a Lothian & Borders Constable (serving in the Borders at that time) and having made numerous visits to his home and become acquainted with the family, I began to make enquiries regarding the Police Service.  This culminated in my application to Fife Constabulary on completion of my first year at Edinburgh.  On receiving my offer of appointment I had no hesitation in notifying the Dental College of my change of career and was duly appointed as a member of the Fife Force on 25 September, 1975.

I was initially posted to the busy Unit Beat Policing (U.B.P.) Station at Dunfermline where I was introduced to work on the beat with an Area Constable before working with my team in a Panda car, the Van or on foot patrol.

Whilst attending my Advanced (second stage) Course at the Scottish Police College, I was approached by one of the Fife Sergeants on the College staff who asked me what I thought of the North East of Fife.  I said I thought it to be a pleasant country area and was then informed that I started at the Eastern Divisional Headquarters, Cupar, on completion of the course!

Work at Cupar was not at the pace of Dunfermline, but here I was one of three rather than one of fifteen in a team.  There was, on a good day, Sergeant cover till 1 a.m. and no Inspector after tea time.  This work was most enjoyable with far more variety, dealing with everything from sheep dipping to fatal road accidents.

On marriage in December 1978 I was allocated the Police Station House at Newburgh, on the banks of the River Tay, still within Eastern Division and with only months over three years service, enjoyed the responsibility of the “Village Bobby” and the opportunity to work mainly unsupervised.

Although both Kirkcaldy born and bred, "she who must be obeyed" and I liked the North East of Fife and decided it would be a nice area in which to stay permanently and thereafter bring up a family.  We bought our own home early in 1981 and prepared for a posting on vacation of the Police Station house as posting and occupancy went together.  In May that year I was posted to St. Andrews.

By that time I had six years service and at times found myself, if only by two or three months, the senior Constable for the sub-division after 1 a.m. on the night shift.  I passed the Elementary Police Promotion examination (passed the referral I had obtained the previous year) that year then passed the Advanced the following year, on the first attempt.

I had, from the very beginning of my service, always wanted to join the Traffic Department, so with seven years service, on hearing that there would soon be a vacancy, I applied to join the Traffic Department and was subsequently accepted with this posting effective from 02 December, 1982.

I attended the Traffic Division at Tulliallan in June, 1983, where I gained a Class 1 Certificate in Advanced Motor Driving, fulfilling a “life long” ambition.  I thereafter attended the West Midlands Police training school in April, 1984, where I studied Road Accident Investigation and Reconstruction, passing out as top of the course at Standard Grade.  Tulliallan was next on the agenda with the Traffic Patrol Officer (T.P.O.) course in June, 1984, when I gained my Certificate of Competence with Merit and at the end of the year was awarded the Blackhall Trophy for best all round Traffic Patrol Officer of the year.

Advanced Motorcycle and HGV (now known as LGV) courses were successfully completed and I continued Traffic Patrol duties with both Car and Motorcycle till 09 June, 1986, when I was promoted to Sergeant within the Traffic Department.

I continued to specialise in Accident Investigation and attended the Advanced course with West Midlands Police in November, 1986.  I gained the City & Guilds Certificate in the subject... with distinction.  This was followed up by my attending the Department of Transport accredited RoSPA Accident Investigation and Prevention course in 1987.  Prior to this I attended the two week Sergeants course at Tulliallan.

During this period of my career I was privileged to return to the S.P.C. Traffic Division on a regular basis, as an outside lecturer, giving talks and instruction  in Accident Investigation, to T.P.O. students.  I was latterly moved from Patrol Sergeant’s duties to Traffic Department Administration, working closely with the Traffic Superintendent and Traffic Management Inspector with projects such as Drink Driving and Speeding Campaigns.

On 12 January, 1989, I was temporarily posted to section Sergeant at Anstruther in the East Neuk of Fife, where my previous experience and service at Newburgh assisted me greatly.  This temporary posting came to an end on 11 May, 1989, when I was posted to Glenrothes U.B.P. where I looked after a team on the beat, doubling up as both Station Sergeant and Operational Sergeant, as well as carrying out periods as relief report Checking Sergeant.

I attended Selected Sergeant’s Course 2/91 in the Spring of 1991, returning to Glenrothes U.B.P. to carry on as team Sergeant.  However on 17 August, 1991, I was posted back to the Traffic Department, taking on the role of Traffic Patrol Sergeant once more.  I was again latterly moved from Patrol Sergeant’s duties to Traffic Department Administration, but on 20 May, 1993, I was promoted to Inspector to look after the Operational side of the Traffic Department - this included the Force's Driving School and Dog Section.  I subsequently assumed responsibility for ACPOS Traffic Standing Committee papers and Traffic Management, during March, 1995.  However on return from my Summer holidays in July, 1995, I learned that I had been posted to the Force Inspectorate.  In fact I had been there for a week... whilst still in France! (Albeit the H.R. Department has mushroomed over the years, their tact and efficiency still leave room for improvement).

I was directly responsible to the Superintendent, Force Inspectorate and went from being the supervisor of over 60, to working as a "one man band."  This post saw me working on a regular basis with the Force Executive and also acting as relief staff officer to the Chief Constable, over and above the Inspectorate functions.  I took over the secretariat of the ACPOS/GP Standing Committee/Quality of Service Group and fronting tripartite meetings with ACPOS/Accounts Commission/HMCIC.  This post placed me at the forefront of Quality of Service issues throughout the Force and on a National basis.  A further duty included acting as the Scottish Police Liaison Officer for "Operation Rebecca."  I think this is still "classified" so will not expand upon this here. This task was quite involved but it was extremely interesting working with the joint armed services of the UK and the "Warsaw Pact."

In December, 1996, I was fortunate enough to be posted to St. Andrews to take on the role of Sub-Divisional Officer.  Whilst I had enjoyed my previous H.Q. role it was great to return to "proper" Police work "at the sharp end" and to take on the responsibilities normally associated with higher ranks.  In the words of the then Assistant Chief Constable, Andrew Mathieson QPM, I was the Chief Constable... for St. Andrews Sub-Division.

St. Andrews played host to many international events and I was heavily involved in the planning and policing of these, including the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in 1997, the Open Golf Championships in 2000, not to mention the annual events such as the Alfred Dunhill Cup Golf Competition, the RAF International Air Show at Leuchars and the many University events and local fairs.  This undoubtedly had to be the best job in Fife Constabulary, being most challenging - local politics - and rewarding.  It is a shame that Eastern Division management changed over the latter years since my departure and that even with far more "managers" the management team did not have a permanent post at St. Andrews for a few years.  Thankfully the last two Divisional Commanders have had more sense and reinstated the St. Andrews Inspectors position, albeit in a role with more local/restricted responsibility. (note: this all changed and fell apart when Police Strathclyde Scotland took over on 1st April 2013)

During July, 2000 I was summoned to the Deputy Chief Constables Office to see David Mellor, the then ACC who was performing the role of DCC and was offered the role of Force project manager for the Public Safety Radio Communications Project.  Whilst I was told, if I accepted the job, I would have to remain in post until completion of the project - 2005 - I would receive a temporary promotion to Ch. Inspector with the posting.  However, in any event the temporary rank would last as long as the job, which just happen to coincide with my completion of 30 years service in September, 2005!

This led to 5 years ensconced in project management, radio communications papers & web sites and getting to grips with the project role, back at H.Q.  A most interesting and challenging role, which ultimately saw the force migrate over to the Airwave Service on Tuesday 3rd May 2005.

I served on the Constables Branch Board of the Scottish Police Federation and after attending their “Negotiating Skills” course in December, 1985, I was elected Chairman of the Joint Branch Board, a most enjoyable, challenging and interesting job which I reluctantly had to relinquish on promotion.  I  kept a close interest in this area and remained friends with various representatives on the board and returned to the Board as an Inspectors' representative for the last few years of my service.

Since joining the Traffic Department in 1982 I maintained my interest in Advanced Driving and, with the Chief Constables permission, acted as a local examiner for the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), carrying out advanced driving tests in Cars, Lorries as well as on Motorcycles, since May 1986.  This role continued into my "retirement."

I also made good use of my LGV licence, managing to get behind the wheel of a 44-tonne articulated lorry from time to time and helping out with some LGV instruction.  My role with the IAM expanded with a remit as Motorcycle Staff Examiner, looking after Scotland and north England.  I took on responsibility for all Motorcycle National Observers tests, Motorcycle Masters Tests and worked with all Motorcycle Groups in my expanded area.  I am grateful to the police for having given me the training, which gave me the basis for carrying out the aforementioned roles now I am in retirement.

Do I miss the job.... No.  I miss some of the folk I used to work with, but do not miss the job in the slightest.

Working with Lothian & Borders Police in 1991 providing Motorcycle Escorts to foreign Statesmen and British Royalty.  There were 65 of us... all of L&B motorcycles supplemented by others drawn from the other Scottish Forces.  I was there with four of the Fife bike cops, though we all worked in differing teams when in Edinburgh.  Long days, little sleep, but great fun.  What the photo does not show is the fact that as it was December and the forecourt at Holyrood Palace was sheet ice!

The privileges of rank... I am with the other Sergeants in the front row, 2nd from the right.

 

I will return to this page at some time in the not too distant future and add bits and pieces, but many of the stories will be reserved for nights out with ex-colleagues, to protect the innocent and those still serving.  Nothing criminal, but some things are best not committed to "paper."
However if you like stories, get your hands on a copy of "Wasting Police Time," which is published by Monday Books.  My sister and her family gave me a copy as a present... whilst there are distinct differences between English and Scottish Law and Police Procedures, there are nevertheless similarities in policing throughout the length & breadth of the UK.  I found this book hilarious and whilst you might not believe some of the episodes in the book, I can think of similar instances to almost everything described.  Sadly it is a fairly accurate (and damning) indictment of the UK Police Service and the current OTT application of Political Correctness; Key Performance Indicators; Mission Statements; Objectives etc. etc.

I should add that I am not connected with the author in anyway and received no recompense for suggesting you read his book... I just think its a great read... especially if you are a serving or retired police officer.

 

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