FRom cutting the buttons off old uniforms tunics to top cop in Doncaster - Bob Sanderson has come a long way in his 32 years’ police service.
But the prospect of more political control of the police force in the near future has prompted the 48-year-old Chief Superintendent to hang up his cap and opt for retirement.
Tomorrow is his last day in charge of the Doncaster district of South Yorkshire Police, which he joined as a fresh-faced cadet in 1980 at the age of 16. One of his first tasks while undergoing training was the important job of removing buttons and insignia from worn-out uniforms to make sure they didn’t fall into the wrong hands.
“I was so good at it they wanted to keep me,” joked Bob, who went on to serve as a constable in Maltby and Bramley, which brought him into conflict with his family and friends during the miners’ strike in 1984.
“My dad, brother and grandad were all picketing and I was going on duty at the same time and it was quite a difficult time. It did cause family friction, especially when the Orgreave battle scenes were on TV.
“It was the only time in my police service that I had second thoughts about being a policeman.
“I felt the pressure and there was lots of verbal abuse and my car was badly damaged, but I took it in my stride and I could understand both sides.”
Bob went on to serve as a sergeant and inspector in Sheffield and then took time out to obtain a first class law degree at Sheffield University before continuing his rise through the ranks.
Since arriving as commander of Doncaster he has seen the crime rate fall by 40 per cent, which means there have been 12,000 fewer crime victims, and he has taken the fight to the criminals with major operations against drug barons and high-value car thieves.
He admits working with Doncaster’s two mayors has been ‘demanding’ and is “concerned about the future of policing, both in terms of numbers of officers and political interference from the new police commissioners. How can they be independent when the purse strings are kept by someone else? Politics and policing will become more and more merged.”