Policing has changed a lot since Maidenhead’s new chief inspector James Upton ‘cut his teeth’ pounding the town’s streets as a police constable more than 25 years ago.
“Vehicle crime was big then, lots of stolen cars, “ he began.
“I remember working nights and one of my first pursuits with with an Astra GTC – ram raids were a regular occurrence.
“When I first started mobile phones weren’t even in existence.
“And you could smoke in the police station.”
Ch insp Upton joined Thames Valley Police (TVP) in 1991 at 19-years-old, a decision influenced by his brother-in-law who was already in the police.
“I used to listen to him.
“What was clear to me was that sense of camaraderie, and catching criminals, that always interested me even when I was 19.
“And Maidenhead was my first post, I cut my teeth here.”
Ch insp Upton spent six years working across the Royal Borough before he became a dog handler.
“There’s actually a photo of me as a child in a police uniform with a dog, I guess that stuck with me,” he added.
One of his first jobs as a dog handler was to respond to a burglary at the Boots in Slough, a large store over a number of floors.
“I was really excited, there was about six people contained in the shop.
“I was certain I was going to get my first arrests.
“The dog, a German Shepherd, was a bit young and I think it was confused by all the smells and the perfume.
“It was highly embarrassing, a dog handler that didn’t find anyone.
“But he matured and became very good at catching people.”
He joined the Metropolitan Police in 2001 where he got promoted to custody sergeant in Kensington and Chelsea before leading a task force to tackle robberies and drug offences in the area.
The 45-year-old said: “I left for the opportunity.
“I wanted to command, and make real time decisions.”
Ch insp Upton also responded to the London bombings on July 7, 2005
And on July 21, 2005 where his team helped clear the area around Shepherd’s Bush station after an explosion around midday on the Hammersmith and City line.
Later in 2005 he rejoined TVP as a sergeant in Reading where he lead investigations in road policing – including the first fatal ‘crash for cash’ in 2011.
A crime that involves staging an accident as part of a plan to commit insurance fraud.
“Dealing with people who have lost loved ones and seen the damage it does, that was really poignant.
“I realised the importance [of role] when you speak to families, it had become a vocation.
“Quite a defining moment really,” he added.
In 2013 he became patrol inspector at Wokingham where he initially led the training of officers at the criminal investigation department (CID) before moving onto train all new recruits.
He became chief inspector in Maidenhead last month after spending 10 months as acting chief inspector in Reading.
“In my career I wanted to develop broad skills that can then help develop new ways of policing which I think is really important.
“Policing has changed a lot in my time and it’s about recognising and learning from that.
“It feels somewhat romantic in a way to come back as I head into the twilight of my career.
“And there’s still one or two staff that were here when I was a constable so it’s great to be back with them.
“It’s a fantastic place to live and work.”