My Professional Career by Roy Gough
After the initial training in Criminal Law and Police Procedures, also shorthand and typing at Hendon Police Training School, I was posted to Stoke Newington Divisional Headquarters in the East End of London where I performed the duties of office boy. I found this to be rather tame and craved excitement, so after a few months I applied for an operational posting to Thames Division. However, this was refused on the grounds that operational work on the River Thames was too specialised and dangerous for cadets.
Not to be beaten, I did some research on the qualifications held by the ‘men of the river’ then reapplied, pointing out that the Award Of Merit qualification for lifesaving that I held was a far higher qualification than most of them held. I had no reply, but a short while later an entry appeared in Weekly Police Orders posting me to Thames Division.
Two weeks later I reported for duty at the Thames Sub Divisional Police Station at Barnes, from where the inland part of the river from Chelsea to the end of the London boundary at Teddington was policed. Life here for me proved to be very different from what it had been at Stoke Newington as I was attached to a fully operational boat crew and spent my whole duty time on the river.
The boat crew to which I was attached consisted of a sergeant and two constables, all ex-naval personnel and more like sailors than policemen. Together with them I spent the following months patrolling the river in a powerful police boat, controlling the multitude of barges and work-boats that were using the river, searching for contraband and removing dead bodies, of which there were many. Another major job was collecting the large baulks of timber that had fallen from the barges and become a hazard to shipping, whilst time was also spent monitoring the many boat races, including the annual boat race between Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
I was taught to drive the boat, use the radio and enforce the rules of the river and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but after a while I again felt in need of a change and more adventure. Together with some of my colleagues, at the age of seventeen I therefore volunteered for the British Army and in September 1954 I commenced a two year stint in the Royal Corps of Military Police.