The Metropolitan Police in London had a problem. They not only needed to recruit more Officers, but Officers of a higher caliber. And given the political environment at the time, ‘financial inducements’ would not form part of our armoury.
We got sent out to Police forces all over London to see first hand what the job was actually like. We went to soccer matches and stood between opposing football fans intent on killing each other. We witnessed car chases first hand (and with queasy stomachs). We found ourselves in the center of a sizeable gang fight. We saw a man get fatally shot, in front of our eyes.
We experienced both appalling and also quite brilliant policing.
Almost immediately we realized how crucial, how important a Police Officer’s job really is. Also how much responsibility is placed in, how much is expected of, every Police Officer. Even a 22 year old, fresh out of training. Instead of trying to ‘recruit’, we decided to explain and elevate the job.
We wrote long-copy ads that put the reader in the some of the challenging positions that young Officers may face. How do you disarm someone pointing a shotgun to you? How do deal with domestic abuse? How do you break up a fight when you’re hugely outnumbered? How do you inform a mother her child has been killed?
The privilege we felt in being chosen to create this work was matched by the rise in both quantity and quality of the applications. Not only had we reversed a decade-long decline in admissions, but increased applications by close to 10% in Year 1. More importantly, we had elevated the status of Police Officer – enhancing the respect for and pride in a very demanding, but often overlooked, hugely important job.
Photographer: Don McCullin
Art Director: Graham Fink
Writer: Jeremy Clarke