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Career Reflections

The saying “Don’t try to teach an old dog new tricks” is quite apt in my case!!

Although I regularly use computers obviously in my work life and also in my personal life the idea of writing a “blog” has never entered my head and to be honest I find Facebook and other social media a real risk to the personal information security of individuals and - dependant on your role in life - a potential physical risk as it is so easy to ascertain very personal details by trawling through social media allowing identification of details that would inform anyone with any form of extreme views.

So what can I say in my first ever “blog”. My understanding is that others have wrote about their work and work history and as I am about to retire I suppose my work life history mixed with a bit of personal stuff may be of interest to some. If not then please feel free to read something else!!

My work life was determined largely by the fact that I failed to obtain the three A levels that were required for the BSc in Business Studies course that I was accepted for at Aston University, Birmingham. There were a few reasons behind this drastic failure and they were largely to do with rugby and beer.

So having been on a holiday at the time of receiving my results I finished up going back to school to re-sit my exams and I am sure everybody who has taken any sort of exams will know what I mean when I say I felt as if I had “hit the wall” with studying at that time and within a few weeks had been successful in obtaining a Trainee Buyers job with an international building company based in Leeds city centre.

My big claim to fame whilst in that job was I was responsible for the scheduling and ordering of all the doors, within the then being built, new Halifax Building Society HQ!! What a pain in the neck that was literally and I generally hated the job so much so I used to volunteer to go out at lunch time to buy the staff sandwiches etc. just to get out of the building.!!

Beer again had an influence in my life as I was out one evening with a couple of mates who happened to be Police Officers and bingo - before you knew it I was accepted into the West Yorkshire Police and began my training at what was then a Police academy at RAF Dishforth in North Yorkshire.

Some of you might remember (but most won’t have been born!) the summer of 1976 was very long and hot so much so that the polish on our boots at the passing out parade melted and that was probably the last time my Police boots had a good shine on them!!

My first posting was back to my home town of Castleford and so I returned to live at my parental home and I remember on my first ever shift on the streets my tutor constable saying “Do you fancy a disco driver”. That wasn’t somebody dancing in a car but being the mad keen young bobby that I was obviously the answer was “Yes” and so my first arrest was a well-known disqualified driver, driving an artic HGV unit and who I eventually turned into an informant!!! Those were the days when “CHIS” as they are known today or Covert Human Recourses were encouraged by the hierarchy and thus you learned to develop local intelligence sources.

Life, shifts, bank holidays and weekend working continued and three years later I was married to a nurse, coincidently now, working at Pinderfields Hospital. We often say now that the 1980s were a blur of work and eventually looking after our son - so much so that neither of us can really identify with any music of those years.

We moved house to Ackworth and I continued to work in numerous departments within the Police but I can honestly say the most enjoyable time of my Police career was when I was employed as a Detective on the Force Surveillance team with long hair, wearing jeans all day and driving often at high speed in an unmarked car travelling the length and breadth of the north of England obtaining evidence, often against professional career criminals. Most days were enjoyable but two spring to mind, the first was when I finished up dressed in light summer clothing in a field, frozen to the points of shaking, whilst observing a car used by safe breakers and the second when in an observation van in the height of summer and the temperature in the van rose to such a height that I had to be removed and the operation suspended as I could no longer see and was suffering from heat exhaustion. The van equipment was soon changed after that!!

Far too soon however - through no fault of my own - I returned to divisional duties and took up a role which was part uniform, part plain clothes, dealing with drug and burglary offenders. Unfortunately, one night whilst on a proactive exercise with a team of others I finished up in hospital with a badly broken leg!

I rang my wife from the casualty sometime after midnight and said something along the lines of, “I am at Ponte hospital with a broken leg” to which she in a very sleepy voice said, “Well what you ringing me for?” She did very apologetically later explain that she thought I was at the hospital with a prisoner with a broken leg not me!!

I finished my Police career working in a much different environment in the Youth and Schools Support team in which I became more of a social worker trying to keep kids out of the courts through mentoring etc. and liaising with school staff, parents and kids in four high schools and numerous junior schools in the Wakefield District. I enjoyed this very different path and it also gave me the opportunity to support my, now teenage son, ferrying him around to every rugby training and match he could possibly get involved in, in the winter and athletics in the summer.

In 2006 I completed my 30yrs in the Police and after shorts spells as a self-employed electric garage door retailer and fitter and a bailiff I decided to work for a few months on our self-build building site cleaning up and supporting the trades needed to complete the house.

One Friday night, my wife said to me, (remember she was a NHS employee) “Do you realise we have £200 in the bank and we owe the builder £12,000 and by the way there is a job advertised here!!”

That is how I came to apply for the role of Local Counter Fraud Specialist with what was then West Yorkshire Audit Consortium and as they say the rest is history.

Ten years later and a few weeks from my retirement date I can honestly say I have generally enjoyed my time working in the NHS and I have met some very, shall we say, interesting people, but I am very much looking forward to the next stage in our lives when I don’t have to come up the M62 each working day to the pleasures of Dewsbury!!

Those that have received my emails over the years will note the sign off….

Cheers

Steve