End of the blue line for Louch family after 55 years of police work in county
For more than three decades, Ian Louch has worked as a policeman in Derbyshire, following in the footsteps of his father. Now he, too, has retired. Chris Jones reports.
THE love affair began on the terraces, watching Derby County thrash yet another side at the Baseball Ground on a Saturday afternoon in the mid-1970s.
But for a young Ian Louch, this wasn't a love for football. It was for police work.
As he stood in the stands, watching the Rams at the height of their glory, his attention was plugged straight into the group of men stood with him; tall, gruff, smart men chatting with his father.
They, like his dad, John, were detectives in the Derbyshire Constabulary, and though they were off-duty and watching the footy, they could not help but talk shop; cases and crimes, suspects and clues. And young Ian stood nearby, rapt, listening to it all, drinking it in.
"It was just something I was attracted to, I suppose, even if I didn't know it straight away," he says. "I just knew I liked hearing about those police stories."
It was an attraction which propelled him into a 33-year-career in the force, through years as a beat officer and then, finally, as a detective in charge of investigating serious crimes in Derbyshire.
Last week, he retired at the age of 51. It was, he says, an emotional day.
Sitting in the living room of his home in Paxton Close, Mickleover, surrounded by dozens of leaving cards, he says: "My dad started in 1958 and retired in 1988 and now I've retired, so between us we've had 55 years.
"I admit on that last day, doing all those things for the last time, leaving the office, going out the door, it was surprisingly emotional."
Retirement now awaits Ian, with some household chores and a fair bit of golf on the agenda. He also wants to spend more time with his wife, Della, and son Toby, 14.
But he says the buzz of police work will be hard to leave behind.
Ian joined the police cadets, a kind of boot camp for the constabulary, in 1979.
He says: "I had been around policemen and detectives for years before that. On Saturday mornings I would go in to the CID offices with Dad and sit while he did paperwork.
"In those days it was all Life on Mars stuff, trilbies and clouds of cigarette smoke. I wasn't dead-set on becoming a policeman and got a job for 10 months as a clerk on the railways in Derby. But I knew as soon as I got the opportunity with the cadets that I wanted to join the force."
A year of circuit training, judo and spending time in police stations left him ready to be taken on as a full recruit, which, like all successful cadets, he achieved without the need for a job interview.
He says: "My first role was up in Chesterfield. They wouldn't let me serve in Derby because my dad was there. So I went north, staying in digs and switching to Buxton in 1982."
While there, he was drafted in to keep the peace at the picket lines during the miners' strikes of the mid-1980s.
Ian says: "That was my first real taste of something big. There were police from all over the country working these. It wasn't rowdy all the time; there were shift changes throughout the day and these were the trouble-spots. But otherwise you would stand on the lines and chat to the strikers."
In 1985, Ian was attached to a uniformed task force – a detachment of officers deployed for football matches or other events which needed extra numbers. Then, in 1993, after his father John retired, he came to Derby where he trained as a detective.
He says: "I think the perception of CID has changed. In my father's day, it was definitely the case that detectives were respected more. There really only was one division – CID – so it carried a lot more gravitas.
"These days, you have far more squads and divisions, so it is just another place to work. But it felt like a real upward move when I became a detective."
Moving to Derby and finding a house with his wife, Ian discovered his dad had forged a strong legacy.
He says: "Everywhere I went, I got 'are you John Louch's lad?' And that was who I was for a while, John Louch's lad. There was a lot of respect for my father."
John had worked his way up to inspector before his retirement and had always been an inspiration for Ian.
But just as his dad had worked on big cases like the still-unsolved Barbara Mayo murder in 1970, so Ian worked on some high-profile cases.
He says: "There was a serial rapist called James McIlroy who committed offences in Derby. He was one of the first suspects to be identified using DNA and that had a lot of media attention."
McIlroy was later given three life sentences in 1995 after a 20-month reign of terror.
Ian says: "After that, we saw the power of technology in a big way and policing really changed.
"And it has kept changing. My dad and I saw it transform completely in Derby.
"But through it all was the camaraderie of the other officers, the laughs and enjoyment of the job. That's what I'll miss the most."