Published: 08:19, 11 June 2014
Gravesham police district commander Chief Inspector Phil Painter has retired to enjoy time with his family – and his bees.
The 48-year-old has hung up his handcuffs having first joined the force in 1984.
The father-of-two – he has a son, 14, and an 11-year-old daughter – married his wife Janice in the Darnley Arms in Cobham 16 years ago.
Mr Painter, who lives in Dartford, said: “I didn’t know I wanted to be a police officer.
“I did A-level law and I was fascinated by it. The lecturer really inspired me. I left school and went and picked strawberries for six weeks and then I joined the police on July 23, 1984.
“At that time there was a training centre and we did 13 weeks of training, then a bit more training, and I was posted here in Gravesend on November 4, 1984.
"On my first day we ended up nicking someone for thieving from Tesco. It was one of those AT-AT toys from Star Wars. It was almost as big as this bloke.”
Mr Painter worked as a response PC until 1989 before becoming a beat officer in and around Perry Street, Northfleet.
He became a sergeant in 2001 and in 2005 became a drug adviser to the Home Office.
Three years later he became the chief inspector for Gravesham.
He said: “These days, people can phone about anything at any time and now pretty much everyone has a mobile phone.
“I think people have got an increased confidence in policing and will report crime. Back in my days there’d be nights when there wasn’t a 999 call at all.”
Mr Painter now plans to do some voluntary work for Ifield School in Cedar Avenue, Gravesend, but said: “It’s a bit early to be thinking about a new job so I’m keeping my options open for now.
“I’ll enjoy being with my wife and children and looking after my bees.
"For my retirement gift I was given a beehive. Living where I do, there’s a few people with bees and it’s just fascinating having 30,000-plus bees in a hive making honey.”
Reflecting on his career, Mr Painter added: “I shall miss the people the most.
"I’ve been the guardian of this post and it’s now time for Simon Alland to take over and he’ll bring new skills and insights.
“The thing I’m most proud of is our work day-to-day serving the people of Gravesham. Everyone is extremely committed and provides a good quality service.
"If you said to me in 1984 I would be district commander of Gravesham I wouldn’t have believed it. I’m very proud of the group of staff that provide this service.
“My job was to allow communities to thrive, and the way we did that was by catching the bad people.
"If at the end of the day I can say I’ve done this, than that’s good. I wanted to join Kent Police because I wanted to help people, and I hope that’s what I’ve done.”
Taking over the role is father-of-two Simon Alland who lives in Maidstone.
Ch Insp Alland has held several high-profile roles within Kent Police, having worked through the ranks for 13 years at Medway.
He had been commander for critical incidents across the county.
Ch Insp Alland said: “I take over a very good and very well run district from Phil and my hope is that we will continue to provide the excellent service to the residents of Gravesham.
"I was desperate for this job and I was lucky to be chosen.
“I want policing to be visible and, above all, to make sure that Gravesham is a safe place to live.” Talking about priorities, Ch Insp Alland said: “I’m new to the area but, having looked, crime in Gravesham is extremely low. It’s a very safe place to live.
“Burglaries are low, violent crime is at a low – there’s nothing that immediately leaps off the page.
"My family are lawyers so I have a keen interest in the law, but I wanted to help people and be on the front line of it.”
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