The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) today, Friday, 13 February, bids farewell to the country’s longest serving police officer.
Born in Croydon in 1950, PC Robert ‘Bob’ Brown will be hanging up his hat after 47 years of service after he joined the Met as a police cadet in 1968.
Officers and colleagues formed a guard of honour outside Croydon police station, as Bob arrived for his final tour of duty in a vintage Morris Minor patrol car, which was in service during Bob’s first years as a police officer.
Having been a cadet for a year, which was a paid position at the time, Bob signed up as a trainee police constable a day after his 19th birthday on 17 February, 1969, and went on to spend the next 13 weeks at the Met’s Hendon training school.
Equipped with just a wooden truncheon and a whistle, Bob’s first posting was to West Hampstead, which is now part of Camden borough, where he spent 15 years on the local beat and crime squad.
Police technology was limited in 1969, and the main form of communication was via police boxes, made world-famous by Dr. Who, inside which was a telephone linked directly to the local station. Bob, like all officers at that time, had to ring in every two hours to report that he was safe and receive his duties for the next two hours.
Over the years, Bob served at stations in Harrow Road (Brent), Norbury, Addington and Sutton, before joining Croydon borough in the late nineties, where he has remained since.
He has also been involved in some of London’s most well-known cases and incidents, during a career that has spanned six decades. In 1973, Bob was one of the first officers on the scene when ‘Carlos the Jackal’ shot the then-Marks and Spencer boss, Joseph Sieff. He also supported the Met’s Special Branch during the arrest of Astrid Proll in 1978, who was part of the notorious revolutionary terrorist group, the Baader-Meinhoff gang.
In 1981, Bob faced bricks, bottles and burning building during the first Brixton riot, spending almost 72 hours on duty, save for a few short breaks. And over the years, he has been on duty at nearly every edition of one of London’s most colourful and vibrant events; the Notting Hill Carnival.
One of Bob’s darkest hours in the police service was on 8 February, 1994, when he responded to an armed robbery at a sub-post office in New Addington along with three other colleagues, including Sergeant Derek Robertson. Tragically, Sergeant Robertson was stabbed and murdered by the robbers. Bob bravely tried to give Derek first aid and watched on as medics tried in vain to save Derek’s life.
Last week, Bob was given one of the highest honours bestowed to police, when he received the Queen’s Police Medal. Bob attended the special ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Friday, 6 February, where he was awarded the medal by HRH, the Queen, in recognition of the 47 years he has dedicated to keeping London and Londoners safe.
In his retirement, Bob is planning to finally move away from London and will be heading to Yorkshire, where he plans to spend more time with his family in the area.
Croydon Borough Commander, Chief Superintendent Andy Tarrant said:
“Bob Brown has dedicated 47 years to public service and deserves all the recognition that goes with being the country’s longest serving police officer.
“It is only fitting that Bob should complete his career in the area that he was born in. An operational officer virtually to the end of his career, Bob will be missed by all his friends and colleagues.
“Croydon Police Station won’t be the same without Bob working here.”