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Farewell Old Friend

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Last updated on June 19th, 2023 at 07:22 pm

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Who’s that you might ask?

On Christmas Eve I came upon the news that the Met Police Catering Service was being outsourced, in other words, privatised.

Boris has already sold off Buckingham Gate, the main ‘feeding centre’ in Central London, and canteens-a-plenty are closed or will be closed.

Let’s be honest, in the main, the food was shit, but that is not the issue here.  When sent to another part of London, or held centrally ‘on reserve’ the catering service were the backbone of the Force.  Who else would give you a frozen pork pie, a sandwich, an apple and a cup of hot, grey water at 4 o’clock in the morning, and do it all with a smile?

It’s an important part of Police history and in my opinion just one more nibble at breaking up the Police ‘culture’.  I have lost track of the number of times my serial have been sent for ‘Snacks’ or a full meal and I’ve bumped into Smudge or Smiler who I hadn’t seen for years sometimes.  You were always guaranteed to bump into somebody from your past.  It may just have been a quiet chuckle seeing how far your old muckers had progressed up the greasy pole, but it was fun, equally as important, if not more so, than the actual food and drink we were being provided with.

When we were first sent to Greenham Common the catering was at Newbury Racecourse, far superior to anything the Met could provide, but it was missing that ‘something’.  Eventually the Met Police Catering Service took over at Newbury and normality was restored, crap food but a fantastic atmosphere.

When things happened at short notice, e.g. a riot or similar, it took a while for the catering to roll out, but you could could always rely on a man with a smile and a battered old Tranny van, Teapot One.

So for 3 years, with the possibility of a 2 year extension, you too could tender for the MPS Catering contract.  It may be cheaper, I doubt that it will be as efficient, and it’s almost certain that the ‘Service with a smile’ ethos will be missing.  The knock-on effcts too are not to be underestimated.  What wil all those cardiac surgeons do now with the legendary Met 999 breakfast being consigned to the bin?

As I said at the beginning, it may have been shit but it was our shit.  For all the dodgy meals and frozen snacks I was ever given I wouldn’t have wanted to be without it.

All Boris, Dave and Cruella will succeed in doing is to santise a piece of MPS folklore, and consign it to the history books. Crap as it might have been, privatising it will certainly not be an improvement.

You can’t improve upon perfection.

RIP Force Feeding

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9 thoughts on “Farewell Old Friend”

  1. Never forget the day when I popped into GD to be met by white canteen staff! The Irish manageress, bless her, microwaved the cheesecake for me (don’t think she had a sense of humour) and when I pointed out that it had curdled and the cheese has ‘split’ offered me a 23p discount!!!!

  2. Royal wedding day and being fed at 5am in a BT building on the route. A meal that had to last all day. They did us proud and then later they were doing sandwiches in the park off the Mall. They worked a longer day than I did that day, Notting Hill carnivals non stop a true asset to the MPD. Still thats what we do now sell our assets and later wonder what clown thought it was a good idea

  3. Not sure of the event but I remember being fed at the Royal Hospital Chelsea. The marquees were still up following the flower show. Food was lovely and a gent went round all the tables asking if everything ok. No complaints and room for a quick game of footie. Another sad day for the Met. Teapot 1. A beacon after standing for hours or struggling with MOP’s

    1. I must say that although often poor the food could be oustanding at certain locations and especially if you went ‘off menu’, bearing in mind most of our cooks were West Indian or African who cooked traditional food at home.
      If they could be persuaded to prepare for you what they preferred to cook instead of what they were told to cook it was excellent. I must admit to being someone spoilt in the latter stages of my ‘career’, for my sins I was an events officer, responsible for arranging minor local events. This included Royal visits to certain Police premises, as a result of which I arranged the Guest list with advice from the Royal household, who requested ‘NO senior officers, HM wants to see and meet people on the ground’ after refusing to invite officers 6 ranks above mine, I as well as the whole of the street duties class and the station gardener also managed to invite the Canteen Manageress and all the staff of the local Police canteen to meet the Queen Mother.
      I never had a bad meal or had to wait in a queue in that canteen again.

  4. Well yet again assett stripping at its worst. Let them sell to the highest bidder with no guarantee of job security for possibly the lowest paid members of the MPS family. Yes OK the food was not the best but to be fair it is a bit like pearls before swine having witnessed 30 years of Cops eating habits but at least I always felt the MPCS were on our side. My best memories are of going down on Aid to Sheerness during the Miners and dock workers strikes in the 80s. MPCS turned up in a huge Marquee and served meals all day to Met and Kent and Sussex Officers who were initially supplied with sandwiches by their own Forces. The atmosphere and Camaraderie was brilliant. The food was fine with the introduction of the ubiquitous Black Forest Gateaux The staff were there before we arrived and prepared meals from early morning usually with a smile. I recognised many of the staff from various places that I had visited around the Met. At the end of the day somebody organised a blanket collection for the staff. I have never before seen that done. Boris and Hogan Who’s Who will look back at some of the decisions with regret when they realise just how much more this Contract will actually cost when they attempt to utilise any of the Services over and above the initial contract. Just remind me How much to change a lightbulb and move a Computer Terminal ? A sad decision.

    1. Spot on Ian, the actual staff were terrific and never seemed to stop smiling. A sad day and an awful decision when they finally disappear

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