Police Training School Hendon - 1990.
On 12th February 1990 I arrived at Hendon police training school. The fact I was walking through the gates to begin training was a miracle. I’d failed the fitness test once and was given a second chance to retake it and had passed. Why had I failed? Certainly not down to a lack of effort. I’d trained daily for the two-day assessment but I’d done the wrong type of training for the tests involved. I could run for distance but at that time you had to complete a mile and a half under twelve minutes (six laps of the running track). I could do press-ups and sit-ups but I had to sit and stretch beyond my toes. I really struggled with that because I hadn’t trained for it properly by doing that specific stretch. It was a very steep learning curve. Back home my dad arranged a meeting with the RAF Physical Training Instructor and the PTI devised a plan I followed to pass the tests. A postal worker at the DSS was also a running coach and he wrote up a plan to help me with the timing for the run.
As I stood at the statue of Sir Robert Peel and stared up at the three huge tower blocks where I would live for the next twenty weeks, I wondered what I’d done. The training school ground was vast. Solos were on motorbikes getting instruction. Many were stood on the saddles as they balanced and slowly manoeuvred through cones. A football match was in place and uniform trainees and seasoned detectives were all around me. As I watched I began to relax. I’d done it. I’d passed a year-long process to get here and I felt that I could belong to this family and that they’d look after me. I would get used to the constant rattle of a passing tube train, the shouts and demands of the drill instructor, the police helicopter landing and the general hustle and bustle of police life.
My room in the tower block was a small affair that contained a bed, desk, wardrobe and a steel sink. My window overlooked the tube track and as I’ve mentioned the rumble of tracks would become my white noise for twenty weeks while I trained there. I would have to sit fortnightly exams and if I didn’t pass them I’d be back classed until I passed them. No one wanted to go back as twenty weeks were enough for anyone there. The pace was relentless and designed to test you both mentally and physically. You didn’t collect your uniform when you first arrived. I think the idea was that they’d see who’d be there after a few weeks before they issued it. My memory isn’t exactly great on the time frame but I recall walking around in a jacket and trousers with a shirt and tie at first. I was never mistaken for detective though! My thousand yard stare and youth shone through. I was a fish out of water but ready to dive in and learn.
I was singled out by my wizened class instructor within two days of arrival though and not for any kind of policing attributes. My then girlfriend had decided it would be nice to send me roses … and a dozen red blooms arrived that triggered a suspicious parcel incident (The IRA were active at this time). I was presented in class with a crushed mess. It was all in good humour and any subsequent letters were properly addressed and not just to Ian Patrick with lot’s of love A.
Image shows the tower blocks and the main training rooms. The image is from the link above which shows others from the era. I hope the owner of the image won't mind me using it. If they do I will remove it.