I work for Sir Paul Condon

David Jones is PA to the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis

I'd never planned to join the police, but when I left college, job opportunities in Devon were limited, so when I spotted an ad for the Metropolitan Police I applied for it. I've now been with the Met for 18 years in a civilian role, working in a variety of areas including finance, computing and administration, and being in charge of 60 staff. In 1996 I joined the Commissioner's office as his private secretary. I missed the ad for my current job in the internal notices because I was away, but luckily a friend brought it to my attention when I returned. Again, it wasn't a job I had really thought of doing, but I was able to talk to my predecessor and find out a little bit about it.

Working for the head of the Met was a bit of a frightening prospect, but as I got to know him and build up a rapport the fear gradually subsided. On my first day he asked me to call a chief constable, which was a bit of a daunting reality check because I wasn't used to dealing with people at such a high level. If you work for a well-known person, particularly one who is publicly accountable, you need to be conscious that everything you do reflects on him or her. Fortunately the Commissioner took time out on my first day to explain what he expected of me. This was very helpful to me because it meant that I didn't have to feel my way around the new job or rely on learning from mistakes.

I work from 8am until 5pm, because I have got a young daughter and I like to see her in the evening, which the Commissioner understands, being a family man himself. He is easy-going to work for, both approachable and appreciative. But since he holds an important position it's essential that he's left to deal with matters appropriate to his post. However, I'm careful not to overdo my buffer role, so I make sure that he sees everything he should.

I have two staff supporting me, a senior personal secretary and a typist. Much of my work is concerned with the correspondence; last year we had 6,000 items, all of which had to be registered with the computerised "corrie system". There's no way that the Commissioner can deal with all of the letters; instead the senior personal secretary reads them, suggests where they should go, and then passes them on to me.

Generally, the correspondence is divided into three: I will deal with some of it, including drafting replies; specific communications go to the Commissioner, for example letters from the Home Secretary; and the rest, about 60 to 70 per cent, is passed on to the relevant departments.

Although his jurisdiction lies solely within the metropolitan area, the Commissioner is one of the highest-profile police officers in the country, and the public tend to see him as a figurehead. For example, someone may have a problem with an officer in another constabulary outside the Met's area, but prefer to write to the Commissioner. He also tends to receive rambling letters from vulnerable people writing about almost anything; he also receives "presents" such as bags of sweets, or, in one case, tablets. We could dismiss these, but you never know if it's a cry for help, so if we're worried we contact the local police station who can check up on the senders.

People go to great lengths to send thanks, for example the woman living abroad who wrote to thank two officers for the help they gave her when her husband had a heart attack in the street, and requests for signed photos or for general information are common. The Commissioner always sends a signed letter in a response to letters of appreciation. I very much enjoy the variety, from the Home Secretary's letters right through to the bag of sweets sender; it gives me a good overview. Rambling phone calls have been put through to me, but I now encourage the switchboard to deal with these calls.

I also manage the Commissioner's diary; he already has at least 30 engagements for next year. His meetings include regular appointments with the Home Secretary, official functions such as taking the salute at the Royal Tournament, meetings with senior officers, and so on. My worst nightmare is that one day I may forget to tell the Commissioner about an appointment, which would reflect badly on him and on the Met at large.

Our office is also a central focal point for other stations in search of advice, for example a senior officer who wants to know how to invite a member of the Royal Family to an opening will call or write in, and between us we can usually offer the correct information. I suppose my knowledge has become quite encyclopaedic over the last 18 months.

New Scotland Yard is such a huge building that although you form relationships with the people you work for, others tend to appear as a blur. But I work with a good team; we are supportive of one another, which helps reduce stress, and we gel well, so there's a lot of camaraderie. I'm the only male in an office of four, with the Commissioner working next door, but I share an interest in sport both with the personal secretary and with Sir Paul himself. We often have a good laugh putting the English cricket or football team to rights, for although we have a serious job, a bit of humour can help to ease the stresses and strains. This is a Civil Service position, so the perks are pretty much limited to a season ticket, but I genuinely love my job. The fact that I am a male private secretary is not problematic, except in so far as surprising callers who expect a woman's voice. I guess it's just that people have preconceived notions that secretaries are exclusively female.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Sport
Diego Costa, Ross Barkley, Arsene Wenger, Brendan Rodgers, Alan Pardew and Christian Eriksen
footballRodgers is right to be looking over his shoulder, while something must be done about diving
News
The illusionist believes hypnotism helped him to deal with the lack of control he felt growing up
people'It’s not that people react badly to it – they really don't care'
News
i100
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
gaming
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncappd Comm: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - Signs and Graphics

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The key requirements of the rol...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Digital Performance Account Director – Performance & Data Driven Marketing Technology

£45k - £55k + amazing benefits: Sphere Digital Recruitment: Digital Performanc...

Sphere Digital Recruitment: Enterprise Sales Manager – SaaS based solutions – £50-60k

50,000- 60,000: Sphere Digital Recruitment: Enterprise Sales Manager – SaaS ba...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible