“I wanted to protect vulnerable people and get criminals locked up – I think I achieved that and I’m so proud.”

A varied policing career has recently come to an end as Inspector Rich Hiom retired after 30 years’ service with the force. 

Originally joining as a special officer aged 20, Rich was working full time at an insurance firm. He signed up for flexi shifts to start as early as possible, finish work at 3, then went home and had his tea before arriving at Beaumont Leys station for a shift of an entirely different kind.

Of the early days of his career, Rich said: “I would volunteer for anything going, I just loved it.”

After two years Rich successfully applied to be a full time officer, completing his training at Ryton on Dunsmore, he loved it there so much he wanted to stay!

Over the years he worked in a variety of different teams and gained immeasurable policing experience before he was approached to run the Comprehensive Referral Desk which was a relatively new team dealing with adult and children’s safeguarding concerns.

As a result of that work and a number of national investigations such as the Rotherham Enquiry in 2014, he was asked to set up and run the force’s Child Sexual Exploitation Team (CSE).

One of the early investigations for the team saw a 39-year-old paedophile convicted and sentenced to ten years imprisonment for posing as a teenage boy and messaging hundreds of underage girls asking them for indecent pictures – threatening them if they didn’t comply. The predator even met some after also claiming to be 21 and went on to have sexual contact with these children.

Rich said: “Within a matter of days after we first received a report about this individual, we had tracked him down, arrested him and seized all of the numerous devices he was contacting girls all over the midlands on. It was a great team effort to convict a serious offender. Without that first child coming forward more offences would have certainly been committed.”

Rich was also the control room Inspector and was on duty the night intelligence was received of a bomb inside a printer cartridge somewhere at East Midlands Airport.

The intelligence suggested the bomb was due to be loaded onto a plane destined for America where it would detonate undoubtedly causing a considerable loss of life. Rich worked with the security services and the airport to deploy colleagues in order to locate the device. The device was quickly found in a warehouse and was prevented from being loaded onto the plane.

The airport was subsequently closed whilst bomb disposal teams attended to make safe for forensic examination. Rich said: “To be involved in preventing a terrorist incident is not something that happens every day!”

Rich had planned on slowing down somewhat now he’s retired but his wife has other ideas. Rich’s wife, Stephanie works for LOROS and has signed him up for some voluntary work with them because she knows how much he will miss giving something back to the community – although he admits to enjoying not being woken up by the alarm!

For anyone considering a career in policing, Rich shares this advice: “If you want to help, make a difference and stop people committing crime then this is the place for you.

“If you put the work in I guarantee it’ll be the best thing you ever do. I leave with comraderies, friendships and a ‘policing family’ that will stick with me forever.”