Ex-Policemen Andrew John Wright describes his recruitment process and training
Mr Andrew John Wright was interviewed by Mrs Carolyn Downing on behalf of the Bishop’s Stortford Museum's and HALS Oral History Project ‘On the Beat’.
Transcription by Ms Margaret Ballard
C.D.: Right, what was the recruitment process like?
A.J.W.: For policing?
A.J.W.: Fairly straightforward I have to say in those days. Most Forces in the Country were recruiting. Within reason you had, the Force, well any Force of your choice really. There were one or two exceptions. I remember in those days Devon and Cornwall, for example, would only take you if you’d been born in one of those Counties, but, they wouldn’t be able to do that these days I guess. Yeah, fairly straightforward: a paper application, I did have to attend Head Quarters for a day which I remember was the 5th November 1974 and the whole sort of recruiting process, after the initial paperwork application took place on that day, so that there was an Entrants Examination, a medical, physical test, an interview with a couple of senior Officers and we were actually given the result on that day, fitted for uniform and then told to, well, that the Course would start on the 30th December and that was it. So, I mean references had obviously been taken up before and what-have-you but it was a pretty straightforward process really, quite quick and the idea being to get as many Officers as they could at the time.
C.D.: And then off to training?
A.J.W.: After that training, January 1975, we had a week at Police Headquarters at Welwyn Garden first and then there was a 10 week Course down at a place called Eynsham Hall which was near Oxford, so I can tell people I studied law at Oxford, which is not strictly true but yeah a 10-week Course with people from there. That was an all-male training school by the way, which was slightly unusual, because my wife, who joined the Force a couple of years later, went to a mixed training centre in the Midlands, but that was all-male. 5 or 6 Forces from generally the East of England, Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Thames Valley. Quite a mix of people really; I was pretty grass green, 19 year old, never been away from home much really, apart from a couple of holidays with mates but mixed in all of a sudden with ex-Servicemen who had seen a bit of the World and, yeah, it was quite an eye-opener and I’ve got to say I think it did me good because I’d led a fairly sheltered life I think, up until then, really, so yeah!
C.D.: So you enjoyed it?
A.J.W.: Yeah, I did, I mean I remember feelings of enormous foreboding as we went down the drive in. It was actually, once upon a time, an old Stately Home, so a very impressive driveway; it looked enormous and I was probably fairly apprehensive, well very apprehensive I suppose. But, funnily enough, 25 years later, I went back there for it was actually the Wake of one of our Chief Constables who’d died and lived now there and it looked tiny compared to how I remembered it and it’s often the case; it’s the same when you go back to your old school, you know, and it just seems very, very different, but, yeah, it was, it was an intensive Course but I suppose, yes, ultimately I did enjoy it, yeah, it was good.