A GUARD of honour met PC Robert Brown as he clocked in for his final day as a police office - after 47 years on the beat.
The 64-year-old is the country’s longest serving police officer and arrived for his last shift at Croydon police station in a vintage Morris Minor panda car - the model used by the police when he started as an officer in the 1960s.
Around 100 officers and colleagues, family and appreciative community members formed the honour guard - and PC Brown stopped to shake the hand of every officer who came out.
He started work in the era of TV cop shows such as Dixon Of Dock Green, Z Cars and Special Branch, and has witnessed vast changes in policing. At his first posting, in West Hampstead, PC Brown walked the beat with little more than a wooden truncheon and whistle.
“We didn’t always have radios, no panda cars - it was more or less coming on from Dixon Of Dock Green, where you had a whistle, a truncheon, a police box to go into to make calls to the station to say you were safe and pick up your calls from,” he said. “If it was an emergency call they used to flash the light on top to get people to go to the box to answer it - that’s what it was all about.”
But it wasn’t long before he was tackling some of London’s biggest crimes. In 1973 he was one of the first officers on the scene when Venezuelan terrorist Carlos the Jackal shot then-Marks & Spencer boss Joseph Sieff.
And five years later he supported the Met’s Special Branch during the arrest of Astrid Proll, a member of revolutionary terrorists the Baader-Meinhof gang, or the Red Army Faction.
But he has more restful plans for his retirement - a move to Yorkshire to spend more time with his family.