There is lots of reflection on policing and police at the moment so I thought it might be time to share the email I wrote to my son a few years ago as he embarked on his police career:
As you become the fourth in five generations to join the Met,
these are slightly updated versions of the rules I was given by my own father and his
colleagues in 1981, with one or two additions from my experience.
I am proud you have made this choice to serve, entirely of your
own volition. Keep safe, watch your back and watch out for your colleagues.
In every sense of the phrase.
I hope you will grow as a man and as a human being to the same
extent that I did in The Job. And have as much fun, so that, whenever you
finish your time, just like me you will be satisfied that you have done some
good and wish you could do it all over again.
You will see and hear the phrase TJF. The Job's F***ed. By
my standards of 1981 it is, but by my Dad's standards of 1956 it was when I
joined. If you could go back over each generation all would say the same.
But you must take as you find - and you will probably just find that, compared to what we knew, TJD
- The Job's Different.
Anyway, the rules:
RULE 1 - THE GOLDEN, UNBREAKABLE IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, RULE. You have a warrant card in your pocket. It was hard work getting
it. You only ever give it up when you are ready to, so everything you do
on or off duty has to be incapable of allowing anybody to take it from you.
Rule 2 - Your warrant card sets you apart. It gives you power but
also imposes duties. You act as necessary in circumstances where most people do nothing.
Be proud of that.
Rule 3 - You are joining a new family. It is a large one with
members across the country and indeed the world. Like all families, there
are falling outs. Some members will irritate you, upset you and
occasionally let you down. You will have to learn which ones you trust
and which you can't. But also like all families, when the chips are down
they are there for each other. They will be for you and you for them - always
bearing in mind Rule 1.
Rule 4 - Take each and every training opportunity offered to you. You
never know when having that skill will make the difference between getting to
do something you really need to, or being somewhere you really want to be.
Rule 5 - You must be respectful to rank and seniority - despite the best
efforts of some, it is still a disciplined service. But it is entirely
possible to be questioning in a respectful manner. Decent senior officers will
show respect back to a junior who politely but reasonably argues their corner.
Even if they disagree and you lose.
Rule 6 - Aspiration to roles and ranks is fine, but the whole
organisation works best when everybody at every level does their best. The
pride is in being an officer, whatever the rank or role you hold. You will find
your niche one day, it might take two years it might take twenty. Nobody has
anything but respect for somebody who finds it and stays, excelling in it - no
matter what they wear on their shoulder. It isn't a competition with your
friends (or family!)
Rule 7 - You will see the best and worst of human nature. You will
see sadness and joy. You will go places and see things that most people
will never be aware exist, let alone witness. Keep smiling if you can, if not then talk about it.
Rule 8 - Cock ups are understandable, covering them up isn't. Put
another way, to err is human, to hide it is criminal. See Rule 1.
Rule 9 - You see policing every day, the member of the public you talk to might experience
it once a decade. Make sure they tell their friends how good it was.
Rule 10 -
The unofficial Met mantra must always be borne
in mind - "If you can't take a joke you shouldn't join the Job".