Three months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York, on a cold December morning, I reported for duty at GMP’s training school in Bury, a looming brick structure with long iron gates. At twenty-three years old, with my recently issued uniform in bags, I was about to cross the threshold of the Sedgley Park training school and fulfil that dream to become one of them.
The British prime minister Sir Robert Peel was born in Bury in 1788. When he founded the Metropolitan Police in 1829 (when he was Home Secretary), he said: ‘The police are the public and the public are the police.’ The police were there to serve the people and not the state. Scotland Yard, as the Metropolitan Police is also known (after the street on which its headquarters was once situated), was the world’s first modern police force. It was the blueprint for others across Britain and around the globe, especially those in the British empire and the US. An institution that old has highly symbolic traditions, starting at training.