In the first of a new feature series about making the transition from policing to a new career, Cliff Caswell talks to a former chief superintendent now working in the corporate sector.
Former chief superintendent Andy Street vividly remembers the moment he left the Job after 30 years of service – he lay awake in bed as the minutes relentlessly ticked towards midnight and the career he had loved for three decades approached their conclusion.
Realising the enormity of trajectory his life was taking away from the Police Service, the career officer decided to seize the moment. He clambered to his feet and headed for the window.
“I looked out as the clock struck midnight on Sunday May 30 2013,” Andy told PoliceOracle.com. “I don’t really know what I was expecting to see – maybe that the sky would light up. But there were no fireworks the night I was suddenly no longer an officer.
“For 30 years I had held a warrant card and that was a big thing to hand in – this was not just a job, I’d held a position, and the responsibilities of it, even when I was off-duty.”
By all accounts, leaving the Police Service – as with many who commit the large part of their lives to law enforcement – was a huge step for Andy. But having made the decision he has forged ahead with a new life, using the skills he honed as an investigator in the corporate sector.
Working closely with former colleagues in law enforcement, he is now the head of special investigations for Barclaycard, dealing with both internal and external threats in a leading blue chip business.
The latest chapter in Andy’s professional life began just over 30 years after he joined Northamptonshire Police – giving up a role as a trainee accountant whose responsibility included examining the force accounts to become a warranted officer.
“I remember being sent up to headquarters do some something related to finance and I met some people I knew there who were serving,” he recalled. “It seemed what they were doing was much more interesting than my job.
“Back then I had always felt drawn to helping people and was encouraged to join – I did and did not regret my decision for one moment. I did not have a great career plan mapped out, or any role in mind, but the whole atmosphere of the Job was a natural fit for me. The variety was amazing, and I realised I could do many different things.”
Clearly Andy’s flair and enthusiasm for the Job paid off and was noticed by his peers – he took on a variety of roles at the force, rising over the years to the rank of chief inspector. As well as taking on many general responsibilities, he was also involved in specialist uniformed operations – including firearms – as well as some CID work.
During his time in Northamptonshire, the officer also took a two-year career break to work in professional rugby – one of his favourite sports – highlighting that this had also been a great experience. “It really helped with everything I did later on,” he added.
The latter stages of Andy’s career saw him promoted to superintendent in Humberside Police before becoming a BCU commander as a chief superintendent in Bedfordshire and later taking a lead on some cutting edge collaboration work with the force. During his tenure with the force, he also worked as a detective and a senior investigating officer.
“At this stage I had made a decision not to go on to the ACPO ranks simply because I was more than happy with what I was doing at the time,” he recalled. “I had my own department and budget and I was really enjoying working across three forces.
“I was also involved with working with the Police Superintendents’ Association of England and Wales as chair of the Bedfordshire branch – this was also particularly rewarding.”
However with the force budget cuts beginning to bite at towards the latter stages of his career – and with chief constables across England and Wales battling to find solutions – he realised that he was potentially at risk of being retired under pension Regulation A19. Taking stock of the situation, he realised that – sooner or later – he would have to move on.
“I’d had a great career in policing and I had always been very proud to be promoted,” he recalled. “I was actually pleasantly surprised that I had achieved the rank of chief superintendent but it was the sheer variety that the Job offered that made it special. There was never a reason to be bored and I always had it in my gift to find a new challenge.”
Having accepted that he would be leaving, however, Andy pushed forward with the process of finding a new job – realising that dwelling on his decision unnecessarily would not be helpful. While he was aware that some colleagues had taken a long period of thinking time to consider their futures, he believed that pressing ahead immediately with making the move to the corporate sector would be the best course of action.
“I literally went straight from the Job into my new role in the big commercial world,” he recalled. “It was different and felt frustrating at first because I did not know, as I had in the police, which department to go to get things done. It was like starting all over again.
“But everything has fallen into place, and it is great at Barclaycard to be working hand-in glove with law enforcement and the police in carrying out investigations to an evidential standard so that can be translated into the wider criminal justice system if and appropriate.
“It is a wonderful job that came to me at the right time and I have started to develop a new career. I have made the move from the public to the private sector, which has some similarities as well as many differences with the world of the Police Service.”
Andy added that he had been backed by his family every step of the way in making the leap to life outside of the job. “My wife Maggie was invaluable and helped me discover what was important,” he added. “My children too have also played their role.”
It has certainly been a packed career and one that has seen rich learning at every stage. With the underpinning of policing experience coupled with a growing knowledge of the corporate environment, Andy has a skill set that is both unique and highly desirable.