Retired former police officers are returning to work with the Metropolitan Police Force (Met) just over two weeks since Commissioner Cressida Dick appealed for help as the force is under increasing strain due to the coronavirus pandemic.
London has been particularly hard hit by the virus and police are conducting patrols to ensure citizens comply with social distancing measures and issuing fines where appropriate.
Among the returness is Police Constable (PC) Stuart Hepburn, 53, who retired from the Met in 2017 after 30 years of service. PC Hepburn joined the Met in 1987 when he was 21 years old and later held roles with the Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection team, protecting iconic sites in central London.
PC Hepburn is joining emergency response on the Central West Basic Command Unit (BCU) where he will be responding to emergency calls from the public in the boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham and Westminster – including Oxford Street, which was his first ever beat.
PC Hepburn said: “I had no doubts about returning to help my colleagues and serve London once again. I felt I couldn’t sit at home and watch, I wanted to help, so I applied straight away. I’m looking forward to seeing old colleagues again and the camaraderie that comes with the ‘job’ that is really like no other.”
Detective Sergeant (DS) Andrew Yeoman, 48, is another of the first intake that returned to police London on April 14. DS Yeoman retired last year after serving 27 years. He began his policing career in 1991 as a constable based in Ilford, before training as a detective in 1998 and going on to work in investigative and covert roles with the Homicide Task Force and the Flying Squad. He was later seconded to the National Crime Agency.
DS Yeoman is joining the East BCU, where he will be investigating crime in the boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Redbridge and Havering.
DS Yeoman said: “I just felt I had to come back and help because that is what I joined to do all those years ago. The process of returning has been quick and I am looking forward to the challenge and the rewards that come with policing in London all over again.”
As DS Yeoman, PC Hepburn and the other first intake of returnees settle into their roles, the Met continues the process of getting all eligible applicants back into the service at pace. The second intake of 17 officers began their bespoke training on April 14 and will soon return to London’s streets.
In addition, more than 50 former officers have now applied to return as members of the Special Constabulary where they will be committing to at least 16 hours a week. Other officers are amongst more than 300 people who want to volunteer with the Met.
Those wishing to apply to return but have yet to do so, are being urged to complete a simple online form to ensure the process is as fast as possible. The Commissioner has also asked serving Met officers who are nearing 30 years’ pensionable service to delay their retirement and stay as a member of the Met.
Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “It is wonderful to see the first of our former colleagues joining us this week. Their valuable skills and experience are helping increase the Met’s resilience and allow us to be even more flexible in providing the best service we can to London during this unprecedented time as the country – and the Capital – responds to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
“I am very grateful to all of them for not hesitating to come back and not surprised they still hold strong the same desire to help people and keep people safe as the very first day they joined. I have no doubt they will join their colleagues in displaying the best of British policing values at this challenging time for us all.”