Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Police Passing Out Parade

HRH: "Do you know who I am"
PC: "Hey lads, this bloke doesn't know who he is"
A few weeks ago I was sprucing up the `street garden` in front of our humble abode. We don't have a front garden, but we do have a strip of grass about 6 feet wide that stretches the length of our place and the attached place next door plus the block of 5 garages. It was all one big barn when it was built in 1860, with walls 3 feet thick, but some clever types converted it all about 30 years ago. I spruce up the street and tend the grass and the flower beds that have been laid into it over the years, because the village always enters the "Britain in Bloom" thing. I know very little about gardening but can follow simple instructions, plus I like to be able to contribute to the well being of my chosen community and help keep it looking nice. As I was sweeping up the trimmings a villager from the `in bloom` group came up to me and seemed very keen to talk. She had been told that I was `ex job` and that I used to be in the Met Police. She proudly told me that her son had recently finished his initial training and that she was at his passing out parade the previous day. She told me everything that went on and how proud she was of her son and all his colleagues. As she described the ceremony it all sounded so very familiar to me to the point that I started to recall my time at Hendon, both as a cadet and finally as a trainee on the 4 months initial recruit course. I wished her son good luck and finished off my sweeping up. Two days later she posted a DVD of the ceremony through my door. I have just watched it and have to say that the Met did a very good job of the passing out parade, reminiscent of my own. It was held at what used to be the Cadet Corps Training School, where I spent 9 happy months, getting fit, being beaten up (boxing, wrestling and Judo were compulsory) road running (techno padded, shock absorbing running shoes hadn't been invented - my knees suffer now, perhaps I can sue the Met? Everyone else does). I was then shipped to the Met Cadet Corps phase 2 training centre at Ashford, Kent for another 9 months. And I thought Hendon was hard! By the time I was ready to enter back into the `real` training school as a 19 yr old probationary constable I was a Devizes to Westminster grade canoeist, a cross country runner, fearless exponent of the assault course, held a brown belt in Judo, had been taught to map read and orientate by using a compass and OS Map, conducted mountain rescue training in Snowdonia - in the middle of Winter - represented the Corps at football, swimming, and athletics and was just about the fittest I have probably ever been before or since. Not only that, but I received free board and lodging, 3 square meals a day, took additional GCE's in Geography and British Constitution and was paid pocket money that allowed me to have a good night out on the town once a week. All of this flooded back to me as I watched the latest young and not so young recruits as they started their new career as London police officers. I watched them march off the parade square before their proud families and friends, escorted by a detachment of the Mounted Branch (who saved my arse on many an ugly demo) as the Band of the Welsh Guards played Auld Lang Syne. To my surprise, I found the whole thing rather moving. Well done The Met for still putting on the style and good luck to you all, every last one. I believe the Cadet Corps was closed down years ago. What is there that prepares our young potential police recruits for public service these days and is compulsory Judo, wrestling and boxing still allowed?


Anonymous said...

I think there is still a cadet corps of some description, but I am not an expert on what they do. I suspect that canoeing and judo is *not* involved.

As for passing out parades your timing is impeccable. This morning as I was wandering into work, I chanced upon a class of (I am presuming) newly passed-out Constables having a class photo taken with a picturesque back-drop. I thought about taking a photo but didn't want to intrude.

I was proud of them!

Anonymous said...

It's funny reading your comments about this. I have a friend who, in the late 70s, went through exactly the same cadet schooling and activities you describe. If I remember right, I think he joined at 16(?) and had to do all his GCEs before he could move on at 18 1/2. He loved his time there. He says he came out the end as a fresh probationer and he felt like he could take on the world, but then found he had a lot to learn!

Hogday said...

SC; I'd join up again tomorrow (if I could do exactly the same things again) and all for £4 2`6 a week. Unbelievable how it all changed.

Dagenham Dave: Biggest boys club I know! Its always worth asking after an ex Cadet as, amazingly, there's always a chance you'd know of them.

Anonymous said...

My friend's name was Neil McDonnell. A/K/A Wingnut on account of his ears which apparently were ideally shaped in order to support a copper's helmet on his head. After qualifying at Hendon, he was stationed at one of the north London suburbs - I can't remember which one.

Conan the Librarian™ said...

I had a school friend who joined as a cadet, a huge (six foot six twenty odd stone)guy who I was once on the wrong end of in a "friendly" rugby tackle.
I was out for a run on my brand new (to me) Honda 175 when I saw a teenager on a Puch moped being stopped by Tank and a "proper" cop.
My tax disc had been ahem, delayed in the post, so I carefully indicated (It had all four indicators!And they worked!)and swept past the scene nose slightly in the air to say I wasn't interested in the doings of a lowly police cadet.
At a junction a couple of minutes later the Panda pulled up, the rider of the moped in the back, but no Tank.
Looking behind me I saw Tank hunched on the moped his pumping knees nearly hitting his chin, as the tiny abused engine propelled him along at a stately fifteen mph...

Hogday said...

Dave: Wingnut (like Mickey Mouse's ears) was a common Met nickname! One of the more polite ones.

Conan: The mental picture is as ludicrous as it is hilarious!

Julie said...

Passed out five years ago and all we had was officer safety training. Having joined from the prison service I asked an OST instructor(he was ex TSG) why we did not practice with resistance and in real life scenarios.I was told that reruits found it distressing and the risk of injury was to great. When I said that the training was not realistic and did not prepare people for the streetthe instructors look said it all!!

Hogday said...

Hi Julie and thanks for commenting. I hear you. I imagine you were amazed to find that out? How distressing to get a bang in the mouth!! At least when I went out onto the street I'd received many a bang in the mouth, knew what it felt like and more importantly, knew how to avoid the next one. QED. I'd advise any new recruit to engage in training of this nature. Anything to give you the edge.