Corby's Shaun retires after 'exemplary' 47-year police and fire service career

Shaun joined the county force in 1974

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 5:02 pm

Northamptonshire Police bid a fond farewell to one of its most loyal servants this week after the retirement of Shaun Johnson.

Shaun, who has served just shy of half a century with the county force – 30 years as a police officer and 17 years as a member of staff – officially retired yesterday (Tuesday, June 15) after 47 years.

As a qualified engineer, Shaun decided to follow in the footsteps of his great uncle Ted and in 1974, the 19-year-old from Corby joined Northamptonshire Police as a police constable.

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Shaun Johnson
Shaun Johnson

His first posting was at Wellingborough Police Station, were he served his initial two-year probation, before moving to the rural sector where he became embedded into the local community, living on his beat.

In the early 1980s, Shaun was among the Northamptonshire Police officers drafted in to support colleagues policing the notorious inner-city riots and miners’ disputes across the country – an experience he has never forgotten.

However, in 1986 he returned to Wellingborough to join CID – a role he really wanted to do – and two weeks out of training, he attended his first murder scene following the death of Percy Francis in Rushden.

During his time with CID, Shaun worked on various major investigations, for which he received numerous chief constable commendations, including one for the conviction of Corby murderer Michelle Pearce, who killed her mum Patricia in 1997.

Shaun working with the County Schools Challenge in 2016

Towards the end of his 30 years of service as a police officer, Shaun qualified as a CHIS (covert human intelligence source) handler and took over the role of police intelligence officer at HMP Wellingborough.

Within weeks of taking on his role, an attempted murder of a prisoner saw Shaun manage the investigation which required the removal of 150 inmates to other prisons – which was hailed a brilliant example of partnership working by the Home Office.

In his first 12 months at the prison, he recovered drugs with a prison value of £250,000, implemented a new drug strategy and the national intelligence model, and as a result of his work, HMP Wellingborough became one of the most successful prisons in the UK.

This led to Shaun joining the National Source Working Group for the management of CHIS in prisons, as well as delivering training to prisons in Northern Ireland and lecturing at Prison Service College.

Shaun in 2012 highlighting bin fires

He implemented and oversaw several covert operations, recruited CHIS for other agencies including the security services and worked with special branch following the emergence of radicalisation within UK prisons.

His work within the prison service earned him various commendations and letters of appreciation, and he was also instrumental in creating the High Offender Partnership Enterprise Project.

In 2004, Shaun received a chief constable commendation for exemplary conduct during his 30 years’ service as a police officer and was nominated by the force for a Lifetime Achievement in Policing Award.

Shaun said: “It was a great honour to be recognised, not only for me but also for my family. My wife has been an integral part of my success, supporting me through the good, and of course the bad times.”

After briefly considering retirement, Shaun continued his service with the force as a member of police staff and was responsible for the training of prison intelligence officers.

Shaun went on to become the force’s prolific priority offender co-ordinator before training as a crime prevention officer and crime prevention design adviser, and in 2008, he joined the arson task force.

Over the past 13 years, Shaun has continued to receive recognition for his tireless work serving the communities across the county and has been awarded numerous commendations from both police and fire chief officers.

His work with secondary schools in Wellingborough in 2009 helped reduce wheelie bin fires in the town by 50 per cent within 12 months, and the project became the forerunner of the very successful County Schools Challenge.

Shaun’s passion for education and community safety has been instrumental during his time with the arson task force, which has seen him raise in excess of £100,000 for local community projects across the county over the past decade.

He has also been instrumental in demonstrating to senior investigation officers the differing levels of forensic evidence which can be recovered from suspected arson crime scenes.

Following the death of Mavis Clift in 2008, prompted by domestic violence, Shaun upgraded the referral system to ensure all arson-related domestic violence was captured and referred appropriately to the arson task force for action.

Shaun said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Northamptonshire Police, which has been challenging, demanding and on occasions frustrating, but there comes a time when you know it’s time to retire – and this time is now.

“I have always felt that life is not a dress rehearsal, so it’s important not to waste any of it. Whilst it hasn’t always been a bowl of cherries, most of my time here has been enjoyable and, in some cases, better than television!

“It wasn’t until after my first seven years as a police officer, I felt really confident that I could cope with anything thrown at me – it was a good apprenticeship – and something which held me in good stead throughout my career.

“Since being a part of the arson task force I’ve been privileged to work with some wonderful people within the fire service and the wider community. The partnership between fire and the Force is a very good one and to contribute to this has given me a great deal of pleasure.”

Since 2009, Shaun has been involved with the charity Crimestoppers, and is the current voluntary chair of the Northamptonshire committee, which he plans to continue when he retires.

Shaun added: “I know how important intelligence is in our fight against crime and disorder. Unfortunately, in today’s climate people are genuinely afraid to talk to the police and other law enforcement agencies.

“It's important we do all that we can to promote the charity, and it is my mission in life over the next few years, to continue to champion Crimestoppers and make it a brand people trust.”

Northamptonshire Police chief constable Nick Adderley said: “Shaun has had an exemplary career, which has spanned nearly five decades with the force, both as a police officer and as a member of staff.

“His career makes for a fascinating read, but what stands out the most is Shaun’s desire and commitment for positive change. And at the heart of all his dedication and hard work, and everything he has achieved, has been his passion to improve the lives of the people of Northamptonshire.

“Shaun is going to be missed tremendously, not only by his friends and colleagues in the force, but by everyone who has had the pleasure of working with him. After 47 years’ service he has truly earned his retirement, and we wish him all the best.”

Chief officer for the Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service (NFRS), Darren Dovey, said: “Since 2008, Shaun has worked closely with the fire service as part of the arson task force and as such we consider him to be as much a part of the fire family as he is the police.

“Shaun has worked tirelessly to reduce arson, fire setting behaviour and protect the vulnerable from becoming a target of deliberate fire setting. In addition, his work with young people across a range of crime prevention areas is unparalleled.

“He will be sorely missed by both services after such a distinguished career. Everyone at NFRS wishes him a long and happy retirement.”