Long-serving police officer Phil Hodgson MBE talks to Selena O’Donnell
A lifetime of serving the community is rooted in a childhood spent in Ellesmere Port for Inspector Phil Hodgson MBE.
The former Sutton Way High School pupil also credits his late father’s work ethic and the sobering experience of struggling to find a job after leaving school with helping him forge a successful 30 year career in the police that saw him being made an MBE in 2006.
Insp Hodgson, who grew up in Little Sutton and now runs the Western Rural Neighbourhood Policing Unit, was nominated for the award for services to policing.
Insp Hodgson’s career began at the age of 18 in 1984 as a constable on patrol in Warrington town centre until 1986, when he moved to Widnes.
During his 10 years policing the town, Insp Hodgson, 45, worked as a response car driver and child protection officer.
He was promoted to sergeant in 1996 and became involved in community policing in Risley before being promoted to inspector in 2002.
He joined the Western Rural Neighbourhood Policing Unit in 2005. His team has worked hard to forge links with the community, particularly the younger generation.
As a result of the team’s work on tackling youth crime and anti-social behaviour, they were highly commended at the national Inside Justice Awards in 2008.
He is married to Julie and has two boys Andy, 19 and Chris, 15 and a step-daughter Danielle who is 17 years old.
What are your memories of growing up in Ellesmere Port?
My memories of growing up in Ellesmere Port are that everyone seemed to work at Vauxhalls, Shell or Bowaters, and football was a huge part of people's lives with people being very partisan for either Everton or Liverpool.
The thought of supporting anyone else was inconceivable and with the allegiances to Liverpool in general, due to the generations of workers who had come into the town from that area, it made for a very interesting time for me having been born in Llangollen and moving to Ellesmere Port when I was three years old. Needless to say the accent didn't last long!
What or who has been the greatest inspiration behind your career?
My greatest inspiration would be my late father. He worked seven days a week at Cammel Lairds as a sheet metal worker and was really proud of the ships and submarines that they produced. He never took a day off sick and had a fantastic work ethic and I never heard him bemoan the fact that his work was hard and not well paid.
What do you consider your greatest achievement professionally?
It would have to be receiving an MBE for services to policing. It was a great surprise to be nominated and to receive the honour was truly life changing. I think that in any job you have in life, to receive an affirmation that somebody has recognised all your hard work is a fantastic compliment and I was so delighted that my family was able to share it with me.
What’s the best advice you could give to young people starting out in their career?
Learning to be professional is the biggest lesson you can learn. If you can show a positive attitude and a willingness to learn, whilst accepting that you will make mistakes then there will always be a place for you in the working world. Similarly, treat people as you would like to be treated yourself.
Do you have a personal philosophy?
I see so many people who are negative about everything in life. The more I see of life the more I think that everything in life is temporary and a positive mental attitude is imperative.
I was in South Africa in March this year in the townships. Not once did anyone complain to me about their situation and not once did anyone complain about their life or prospects. We could all do with a bit of African optimism.
What are your plans for the future?
In three years time I will have 30 years in the Cheshire Constabulary and I think it may be time to give someone else a chance. I would love to stay within the world of community safety, or perhaps work as a full time fundraiser for a charity, or work with problem kids. One thing that growing up in Ellesmere Port has done for me is realise that I have had a solid grounding in life.
Looking back, can you identify a turning point in your career where you started to believe in your own success?
I have never really considered it as success to be honest. I was always just happy to be in a job that motivated me and every day rewarded me.
Perhaps promotion is an example of success, but I think when I was a constable working on a child protection team and I would deal with horrendous sexual offences, the success of protecting the victims and sending offenders to prison for lengthy terms made me realise that I had found something in life I was actually good at.
When times have been tough, what has motivated you?
I left Sutton High School in 1983 at 18 years old when there were three million people who were unemployed.
I know this because I was one of them and every fortnight my friends and I would sign on at Wilkinson Street, at the bottom end of the Port.
After six months of doing this with countless job applications either not responded to or placed on file, I was lucky enough to get a job as police officer. Those times still motivate me and have provided a reality check for me in all aspects of my work.