After 37 years in policing, Derbyshire's top cop says goodbye to a '˜rewarding' career
'It feels strange,' says Derbyshire's top cop, Mick Creedon, as he prepares to hang up his hat after almost four decades in policing.
“You’ve done a job for so many years it becomes part of you.
“It feels unusual to think that in 12 or 13 days time I’ll wake up in the morning and I won’t be the Chief Constable any more.”
Mr Creedon has led Derbyshire Constabulary for the last ten years - and has been a police officer since 1980.
He has no firm plans for his retirement as yet, but says he hopes to use some of his vast experience to help other forces wherever he can.
“My intention is to have two or three months of doing nothing,” he says.
“I want to catch up with my family, enjoy the summer - do some cycling and some travelling.
“Then I’ll be looking to do things again from the autumn onwards.
“It would be a shame to lose all that experience but I’ll wait and see what the demand is.”
Mr Creedon joined the police force in Leicestershire at the age of 22 - shortly after leaving university.
“I wasn’t an ambition of mine at uni to join the police force,” he says.
“After leaving, I bummed around a while, did some travelling and then realised that I needed some money.
“I applied for a few things and chucked in an application for the police as well - I don’t even remember doing it.”
In the 37 years since he joined up, Mr Creedon says he has seen policing change out of almost all recognition.
“In simple terms, 1980 was modern day Dixon of Dock Green.
“We wore traditional uniforms, radios didn’t work very well, we had a wooden stick and it was very old fashioned.
“I have to remind people that Life on Mars isn’t a documentary because, within reason, parts of it were like that.
Of all the myriad changes he has seen, however, it is the impact of technology that has had the most profound effect.
“Now, everywhere you go there is a recording of you,” he says.
“There is CCTV, mobile phones, instant messaging - the world is very fast.
“It is a great thing for business, its a great thing personally and it is a great thing for us to investigate with.
“But it is also a great thing for the criminals and they use it successfully.”
Another challenge has been the unprecedented budget squeeze that has been imposed on the public sector over the last seven years.
Mr Creedon openly admits that the era of austerity - and its impact on the police force - has been ‘awful’.
“My officers are running 400 down on where we were at our peak.
“Which means the remainder are having to do the same work and more with less resources.
“We know we have to live within our means and we have therefore had to manage it.
“But most of the public are in favour of spending on policing because they get the importance of it.”
He is quick to point out, however, that despite the cuts, the force was recently rated as ‘outstanding’ after a HMIC inspection.
On top of this, he says he is ‘proud’ of the way his force has handled the major incidents that have happened during his time as Chief Constable.
The overall style of the force has changed for the better he says as well - away from a target driven culture and towards one in which officers are given more freedom to do their jobs.
In terms of disappointments, he says he continues to be shocked by the horrible things that people can do to one another.
“You think how can someone go and set fire to a house and kill three people like happened in Langley Mill - what kind of world is this?
“But you have to detach yourself - you cannot let yourself get emotionally involved.
“You couldn’t do the job if you let it get to you.”
Despite bearing witness to these horrific crimes, Mr Creedon says he has ‘loved’ his life in policing.
“I did a talk to some cadets yesterday aged between 13 and 18,” he says.
“About half of them wanted to join the police.
“I told them, ‘it is a great career’.”
“It is challenging - the public don’t always support you.
“People will spit at you, be rude - you’ll see some horrible things and you’ll deal with some tough crimes.
“But it is rewarding.”
n Mr Creedon is currently in the middle of a Derbyshire wide cycle ride which aims to raise £10,000 for Safe and Sound - a charity which protects vulnerable young people from exploitation and abuse in Derby and Derbyshire. To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mick-creedon.