It’s a great life really……

On my second ever day in the police, I was called to a ‘sudden death.’ As the probationer on the team I was taken by my Sergeant to the scene to make sure there were no suspicious circumstances. Once in the house I was told I would have to search the body, to make sure there were no knives sticking out of their back or anything else that might have prompted my inexperienced 23 year old mind to suspect foul play. Nothing in my life to date had prepared me for this experience, but I was determined to look professional, so I pulled on my plastic gloves and bravely knelt down alongside the deceased. It was at this point that a horse walked out of the kitchen into the lounge where we were all gathered. Nobody but me batted an eyelid, this was apparently quite normal in the area. At this point I realised that the life of a police officer is anything but normal.

I am often asked by people I meet what my job is like. If I am honest I absolutely love it, and would never consider doing anything else. I frequently have days that if they were WH Smith gift experiences people would pay to do them. There is nothing like the thrill of locking up a good criminal, deploying a firearms team to take armed criminals off the streets, or a surveillance team telling you that they have just secured a crucial bit of evidence.

There are of course bad days too. I have had to deliver numerous death messages. There is nothing that can prepare you for having to tell somebody their loved one is dead. I have had reactions ranging from people physically hitting me, to calmly offering to make me a cup of tea and offering me a comfy seat. They are all truly awful experiences and I remember each one.

I have been really lucky to have spent almost all of my sixteen years to date on the frontline, in uniform and CID. I love the complexity of CID work, and have worked at all ranks as a Detective. I have blogged before about murders, but I have been involved in some fantastic jobs targetting career criminals and been able to deploy some great gadgets against them. Most of the stuff you see on telly has some semblance of truth in it, although I do tend to sit through cop shows saying “thats not how it happens”, driving my Wife mad.

I get frustrated by paperwork and bureaucracy. I don’t think it is quite as bad as people make out, and to be honest if I cant see the point of filling out a form, I generally tell my officers not to, and wait to see if anybody notices. You would be amazed how many times they don’t.

I can’t think of another job where you could see so much strange human behaviour, or where you see so many funny and tragic incidents. I once got called to a man who told us he had taken an overdose. On closer inspection, he had swallowed a whole bottle of Tixylix. Needless to say, he survived, although I understand he didn’t have a cough for months afterwards.

I still struggle with people who are aggressive towards officers just because of the uniform. I have been on the receiving end occasionally, and have been attacked with fists, feet and knives. Luckily I am reasonably handy, having spent  most of my formative (and later) years studying Karate, but the people attacking me don’t know that, and I often wonder as I am picking them up and dusting them down what they would have done if I couldn’t defend myself. I have avoided any serious injuries, but have seen some colleagues get badly assaulted.

 I am shortly to be promoted to Superintendent, and although I will still take every opportunity to get out of my office (I have the attention span of a goldfish) I am moving away from the frontline. I may suffer the odd paper cut, and paper clips can be nasty if you get one under your nail, but I assume my days may contain a few less adrenalin bursts.

Although I can’t wait to move to my new role (watch out Wolverhampton) I will really miss frontline policing and day to day investigation. The vast majority of police officers are like me. They joined to keep people safe and lock up bad people, they are on the your side, and want to help. We don’t always get it right, and sometimes get it quite badly wrong, but the majority of the time, I think we do a good job. Don’t take too much notice of the occasional report about officers spending all day doing paperwork, and withdrawing into offices. They are out there day and night, working hard and targeting villains.

As ever, let me have your thoughts…


8 Responses to “It’s a great life really……”

  1. 1 Dean O'Brien February 1, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    Brilliant blog post and obviously giving a very honest account of modern policing. Thank you. It was a brilliant read.

  2. 2 Ray Bailey February 2, 2011 at 1:11 am

    What I find most interesting about police work is that it is so similar all over. The only thing that changes is the color of our uniforms. I easily could cut and paste that blog onto my website and called it my own. I just happen to work on the other side of the world (Ramsey, NJ, USA).

    Great blog! Good luck in your new assignment. I certainly miss the road or as you call it “frontline policing”, but I love being a leader of a bunch of great officers. It really is a great life!

    Stay Safe,

  3. 3 wolvesparkies February 2, 2011 at 9:23 am

    What a great read! Letting us all know what you guys/gals are doing out there every day really lifts the spirits and gladdens the heart. I maintain of the opinion that there are more good people in this world, than bad – thank goodness for all those that do such a sterling job such as yourself and your colleagues. We have had some great help from you in our role in Wolverhampton over the years.

    Wishing you great success in Wolverhampton’s Great Outdoors – #WonderfulWulfrunians.

    All the best

    ^Wilf and the Wolves Parkies

  4. 4 Yahya February 2, 2011 at 11:32 am

    Great read, Wolves residents will be lucky to have you

  5. 5 trogglodyyte February 2, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Very interesting blog DCI Payne. You are obviously a very caring officer. The “street” will miss you but you can impart valuable knowledge to the next generation of officers. Good luck for the future

  6. 6 Caroline Rogers February 2, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    Congratulations on your promotion to Superintendent! Thank you for writing another fantastic blog.

  7. 7 Lance Gray February 2, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Supt Payne, a feature of your detective career to date will undoubtedly have been support for vulnerable victims and witnesses. At DASH Support we are striving to take support for vulnerable people, particularly survivors of domestic abuse stalking and harassment forward.

    We have taken the technology used for ‘lone worker’ protection and expanded it to benefit the niche group of vulnerable people above.

    I started DASH Support last year following my own 30 years police service and have first hand experience of fragile witnesses and the frustrations of protecting highly vulnerable victims and witnesses at key periods in the investigative process and subsequent prosecutions.

    Our service supports SIO’s in serious crime cases, domestic violence specialists and officers dealing with ASB and school and workplace bullying. We support restorative justice processes by obtaining incontrovertible evidence, non intrusive, no RIPA required.

    By design we are a low cost social enterprise. Regardless of our concerns it is heartbreaking this simple technology is not more widely used in witness protection.

    Across the many UK community safety partnerships are in a state of total paralysis in our experience, unable to function or commission innovation because of understandable funding issues.

    Elsewhere refuge services are likely to get 100% funding cuts. Without scaremongering would you predict domestic homicide up or down as a likely consequence ?

    Our response has been to commission a new, even more economical personal safety device to complement our existing GEMShield. This is the ‘My SOS’ personal safety device, low cost and now, crucially for some users available on a pay as you go basis.

    We have set out who we are and what we are doing on the new DASH blog. We’d love to hear from anyone we can help support victims and witnesses.

    See us at

    Regards Lance Gray

  8. 8 Minty February 2, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Good luck and congratulations on the promotion.
    Hope you will still have time to blog and tweet.

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