Then and now…

When I joined up a fresh faced little boy, it was a different job.

Panda cars looked like this:

We were ‘armed’ with this and these:




Cuffs were fine…radios ran out of power after 3-4 hours…stick only good for breaking windows…

A PIC was searched at the station and a paper custody record completed; took 10-30 mins. If we were busy, we took the details ourselves.

The custody sarge worked on his own for most of the time…

A file for court consisted of:

File front sheet (details of case/defendant); Case summary (short, concise summary of circumstances and important evidence); Charge sheet; Witness list; witness statements;a tape transcript and a PNC check of defendant. That’s 7-items. Done on paper…so we could do them anywhere-even parked up in a car out on the patch.

We charged our prisoners-the custody officer made that decision. If it was a tricky one-the gaffer had final say.

Stations had their own cell block.

Shifts were 0600-1400; 1400-2200 and 2200-0600. Student officers were called Sprogs (fng, pro-cons etc…) and arrived at least 20-30 minutes early to do the tea for the shift- in order… (Insp, Shift Sarges, Control sarge, Custody sarge, big tray for parade room-area car drivers first then panda men/ladies…we cleaned up too…).

Kit was checked by the sarges, pocket books signed by the Inspector and problems sorted out by the sarges and the gaffer.

We filled in a crime report and took a statement at most jobs-they were passed on and INVESTIGATED…

We had big shifts: Insp, 2xshift sarges; custody sarge; Control sarge; Office man; 3 or 4 double manned pandas, an area car and access to force traffic/dog.

A team of beat men-usually long service types that knew their patch inside out.


Now pandas look like this and this:










Now we have CARRY and wear this kit:






When we arrive at the station under the watchful eye of CCTV, we wait until the electronic custody system is completed. Takes 30-60 minutes, that’s without the queue… Now we need two custody staff plus a runner.

A file for court consists of:

All done on a computer…requiring an officer to be at a station sitting down-not patrolling.

These exist for one purpose: to make the lives of the CPS easier.



Shifts are diverse… 0700-1500, 1400-2300, 2200-0700, 1700-0300, 1700-0500, 1000-1900 etc…

We now have: response teams… no area cars (we don’t pursue people now) -1 double or 2 single manned cars per area making 3-5 available resources; Neighbourhood teams some 10-15 strong; PCSO and council wardens (neither can be tasked by us).

We have local and force CID… civilian controllers… civvie custody suites for areas making for miles of travelling to lodge your PIC…

We are now required to do the following at a job:

Fill in crime report, (12-page risk form if it’s a domestic), statement, house-house, CCTV, SOCO, community liaison, return visits, community reassurance…

This is definitely NOT the job I signed up for…or enjoyed so much.


I have often been asked why we carry so much kit…

It’s because officers reported a huge increase in assaults against them. Resisting arrest is the norm. Why?

Nothing happens to them at court if they attack an officer (or anyone else for that matter…).

I remember going to court with a chap that punched me in the face during arrest-he got an extra 6-months inside for his trouble.

Now we are in a situation where we are responsible for everything from: people being stuck in their cars following a big snowfall (remember?), to officers driving past an accident ( a classic-IPCC called in to investigate a fatal RTA because a panda was on the OPPOSITE SIDE OF A DUAL CARRIAGEWAY at the time of the collision-I shit you not)…

Still, I am getting another medal next year…


10 responses to “Then and now…

  1. PCSOs can’t be tasked by the Police? What does that mean?

    • Controllers can’t say to them “go to Mrs Jones and sort out that burglary…” etc… they are SUPPOSED to self brief and go out to ‘engage with the community’…lol

      • Really?

        When I was a PCSO, I was trained that if you were given a lawful direction by the control room… you bloody well did it.

        Now that I am a controller… I would be a bit taken aback if I had a PCSO refuse to go to something… (unless it was obviously outside their remit)… I regularly deploy them to a variety of jobs.

  2. Snake Oil Salesman

    I agree entirely. I remember those happy days when an arrest and charge meant an IRB, a Crime Sheet, F74 and a set of FPs taken with ink using a brass plate. Off to court with the job in the morning and if lucky enough to be off nights or late turn a nice bit of OT. He pleads at court, back to nick, mark up result on crime sheet etc and job done. If he pleads not either prosecute yourself, get the skipper to do it or a DC, if it goes up the road, do the committal yourself and do a SOUP Report to get a brief at CC. When they invented the CPS the best bit of the job was lost which is why I am now, as Gadget puts it a Snake Oil Salesman well I couldn’t work for the CPS could I?

  3. Off the top of my head these are the things that were better when I was new compared to now:
    Real reliable mates on team.
    Much much less paperwork.
    Respect from the public (mostly)
    Decent leadership (mostly).
    Much less political correctness.
    No PCSO’s.
    Many more PC’s on team
    Things that are better today;
    Technology for solving crimes (DNA,mobile data terminals).
    Sorry can’t think of anything else!!

  4. You must be a county mounty Shij.We have never had bars in our Met stations.When I did my driving course we used to stop in Bedfordshire/Herts and Norfolk police stations for a break we were always amazed by the facilities .Compared to our crap-holes they were palaces!

  5. We had a bar in the nick. On lates we’d radio our orders to the control room.
    Our first personal radios were Pye Pocketphones that came as two units, a separate transmitter and receiver. Photo here The transmitter had a sprung loaded “pop up” aerial, it’s rumoured that one bobby had to be taken to hospital when the aerial went up his nostril !
    Our pandas were Mk1 Escorts. Brilliant for practicing handbrake turns on
    a large sandy building site on nights !

  6. I am a Very Old Guy, living in Australia. 50 years ago I was a PC in the Met. Obviously times have changed a lot! We had three shifts, starting at 6am, 2pm, 10pm.
    Arrests on Nights, usually drunks, fighting etc. miscreant charged, by the Desk Sargeant put into cells in the Station, court next day, fined/jailed, end of story. Paperwork, 5 minutes tops.
    Almost all the entire shift on a beat., most of the time.
    Equipment, stick, whistle, that was it. Not even handcuffs. However, Magistrates supported Police.
    My daughter is a Sargeant in the NSW Police, and goes to work with radio, baton, handcuffs, Tazer, Capsicum spray, Glock, a different World now

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