A young Carl Ingram wanted to patrol the streets of Preston just like his dad Bill, who was an Inspector of the city.
Finally, at the age of 23, he joined Lancashire Police in 1988 on a wage of £500 a month – but things did not immediately go to plan.
He was sent across the county to Blackburn, due to his dad’s senior role in Preston.
He laughs: “I was posted in the town centre. My first arrest was of a drunk person outside Morrisons – not one of my finest moments.”
Since then the dad-of-two, from Longton, has arrested more than 1,000 people.
It’s fair to say policing has changed drastically in the last three decades.
PC Ingram, who is dad to Alex, 26, and Abbie, 23, started out in an E-reg Metro patrol car, with a small blue light and no siren.
He recalls: “I had to bang on the horn repeatedly if I was attending a job, because we did not have a siren.
“In this day and age you look to other disposals before arresting someone, like a summons or caution, but back then we dragged everyone in.
“I spent three years in Blackburn before I was suddenly posted to Darwen – it was like going back in time. I was back on foot doing school patrol crossings.”
As his young family grew, PC Ingram was desperate to be closer to home.
His father retired in 1990 after 27 years in the police, and PC Ingram was permitted to work to Preston.
He says: “I’d always wanted to work Preston, even as a child. It’s my home city.
“But when you police an area you get to see every single thing about it, the underbelly, the things you don’t see as a civilian. It perhaps wasn’t the idyllic town I thought it was.”
For a while he worked driving a police van before plans were announced to create community roles within the police.
PC Ingram then became a community beat manager for Broadgate in Preston, where he has remained for 17 years.
It was not all plain sailing.
He recalls: “When I started I did encounter a bit of apathy from residents who were frustrated at all the problems, and felt they had been made promises before.
“There was a big meeting at St Stephen’s school where I told them who I was and what my role was going to be. More than 100 residents attended – we realised straight away there was a very strong sense of community in Broadgate.”
It is perhaps a testament to him that 17 years down the line, youngsters at the school have bid him farewell with handmade cards.
PC Ingram quickly ingratiated himself with locals, helping form the BRAG (Broadgate Residenst Action group) which was able to get finding for community projects, and established regular PACT meetings.
His biggest challenge has been dealing with young offenders. In the last decade a young group calling themselves the Broadgate Riot Squad caused a nuisance for fed up locals. PC Ingram and others were able to get them before the courts, but often they were bailed and able to return to the area to create further issues.
The youngsters would meet with ringleaders of the group and go round the area on pedal cycles intimidating people, and would frequently clash with a rival group from Penwortham calling themselves the Kingsfold Youth Defenders.
PC Ingram says: “The criminal justice is lenient with them because they are youths but then suddenly when they turn 16 they find themselves in custody.
“It doesn’t help them to get slapped wrists over and over again. The punishment should be proportionate and increase each time they are in court, otherwise they are hardened criminals at 16.”
His work to tackle youth crime is seemingly never ending. While United Utilities were doing work on Fishergate Hill, a group of joyriders stole equipment including a steam roller.
In another incident, he referred in a news article about a group of youngsters who had been annoying residents as the ‘Taylor Street terrors’ - inadvertently giving them a gang name!
He says: “I started seeing the graffiti tag ‘TST’ everywhere, they’d obviously latched onto it!”
These are among the more amusing anecdotes from his career, but PC Ingram has also dealt with the gravest of situations.
One of his saddest was in 2009 when he discovered a disabled man in terrible squalor in an apartment block that had been taken over by drug dealers on Fisbhergate Hill.
The man, who had once earned around £700 a week working for a Preston graphic design firm, was wheelchair-bound and had fallen on hard times due to alcoholism. On the floor above, criminals had turned one of the eight bedsits into a drugs haven. Unable, and afraid, to use the communal toilet, his own bed had been heavily soiled.
Magistrates imposed a closure order on the house, and PC Ingram had to break the man’s door down to get to him. Friends persuaded him to attend hospital, but he died soon after from infected pressure sores.
He says: “They don’t come much worse than that.”
The PC has even roped his loved ones into tackling crime.
In 2007 he was off duty, walking his dog close to his home, when he spotted one of the most wanted criminals from Southern and Central division – wanted for an abduction and stabbing.
PC Ingram apprehended the man with the help of his wife Anne and son Alex, then 15. PC Ingram, Anne and Alex all received awards.
He has also received another Chief Constable’s commendation for good policing work, and the G H Redman award for community policing. After his last working day on August 16, PC Ingram is looking forward to a holiday in Italy.