Derbyshire Police Federation

Deputy Chief Constable Simon Blatchly: 35 years in policing

26 February 2024

“Working in Iraq came with a whole different kind of risk, my 8.30am briefings went from discussing how many robberies there had been in the local area, to how many explosions there had been in Baghdad the previous day.”

The career of Deputy Chief Constable Simon Blatchly OBE started in 1989 and since then, his police life has included a multitude of turns. From working in response to CID, time as a Chief Superintendent and not to mention the four years he spent working in some of the world’s most dangerous countries for the United Nations.

Plus, he was also required to keep up to date with a variety of specialist training courses, including public order and firearms, to name a few.

“I’ve been in the police for nearly 35 years and people always say you will know when you’re ready to retire. I can confidently say, I’m not,” said Simon, who admits he is ‘extremely proud’ of his time in policing.

We caught up with Simon, 14 months after he joined Derbyshire Police Force to find out more about the exciting career, as well as his visions for Derbyshire Constabulary.

Having left school and worked in an office job, Simon quickly recognised a nine-to-five role wasn’t for him. He admits he wanted more than a predictable routine and daily commute, so, he joined the police. 

“I walked into Kettering Police Station, who, by chance were recruiting and within three months, I’d joined the Force,” said Simon, adding: “Life as an officer was very different back then - all you had was a wooden truncheon and a pair of handcuffs. You had no PPE [Personal Protective Equipment], you just had the uniform to protect you.



“The approach to wellbeing was very different too. If your prosecution file wasn’t good enough, you’d get a telling-off, the file would probably be ripped up and you’d be told to do it again.

“Professionally, the wellbeing support officers receive these days, is a lot better.  It’s not perfect but at least the support is there”. 

Simon’s career started on response for Northamptonshire Police, before moving into CID as a detective constable. 

He explained that being in those roles 30 years ago really makes him appreciate the pressures that frontline officers are facing today. 

“When I joined, there would normally be only two student officers on a team - which meant tutors had the time and capacity to teach them, and also gave us the chance to learn on the job from more experienced officers,” he continued.

“Now though, with the sharp uplift of officers over the last 3 years, there is additional pressure on sergeants and tutors to support student officers, one after the other,  which stretches their capacity. This will hopefully ease as we return to normal recruitment levels.”

After time as both a response and detective sergeant, Simon went on to become an inspector in the operational training department, which oversaw the training of specialist roles including, Public Order, Firearms, CBRN (chemical biological radiological and nuclear) and Dog Handlers.

He said: “It was probably in that role where I learnt a lot about being a manager. I was managing a number of trainers, who knew their specialist areas a lot better than me.  I quickly recognised when I needed to deep dive into managing an issue and when to just trust the team and let them get on with their roles. This time was a huge learning curve for me.” 

The next few years consisted of me being in CID as a detective inspector and detective chief inspector before being promoted to Superintendent where I had some great roles as head of operation, then community policing, before taking on the role of director of intelligence and then head of crime for Northamptonshire Police.

During this time, Simon maintained his public order, CBRN and firearms qualifications, at silver and then gold level, which led to him commanding such events as the British Grand Prix at Silverstone

In 2014, Simon was selected for a 12-month secondment to the United Nations (UN), working as a senior police officer in Iraq, advising both the UN and the country’s government on policing and election issues.

Working in Iraq came with a completely different type of risk, my 8.30am briefings went from discussing how many robberies there had been in the local area, to how many explosions there had been in Baghdad the previous day.

“Until you’re there, I don’t think I  really appreciated how much conflict is taking place overseas and although I quickly adapted to that level of threat, there were definitely times I felt scared,” he said. 



After that year had ended Simon was asked if he wanted to review headquarters processes for the UN Police Division, so he moved to New York City, where he spent 18 months as chief of mission management and support, working with UN police teams across the world.

In 2016, he went on to become the UN police commissioner in Liberia, which involved him leading officers from 31 different countries, supporting the Liberian National Police and ensuring that a peaceful government election took place.

It was his time working for the UN that earned Simon an OBE (Order of the British Empire), which Simon describes as a ‘huge shock’ and a ‘milestone in his career’.

He returned to the UK in 2018, and admits, his time abroad changed him both professionally and personally.

“The challenges that communities and police officers are facing in some of these countries, like Iraq and Liberia, are huge. My mindset of what hardship was had changed a lot,” admitted Simon.

After passing the strategic command course, Simon was appointed as Assistant Chief Constable (Crime) at Northamptonshire Police and then Deputy Chief Constable.

He then made the move over to Derbyshire, as Deputy Chief Constable in 2022.

“I really enjoy my role here in Derbyshire,” he said, adding: “It’s a great force to be part of. Of course, there’s always work to do but the narrative today is a lot more positive than it was 12 months ago.

“My vision is for Derbyshire Police Force to be an outstanding Force. I want us to be a Force that leads by example, that others come to look at.”

Speaking about the issues he feels the Force faces, Simon said: “There is still a need to ensure we deliver a consistently high level of service across the county, which is why we are pushing the ‘One Derbyshire’ approach.

“Ultimately, we should all have the same goal and mission - that should be to provide the public with the best service possible, regardless of their location.”

Simon vows to listen to frontline officers and says if ‘something needs to be fixed, we will try and do it as quickly as possible’.

“Our frontline officers are experiencing policing issues first-hand, so we need to listen to what they’re saying,” added Simon, who is determined to ‘be seen, out and about talking to cops’.

“I’ve been running focus groups since I started in Force, and it allows me to hear from officers directly of their concerns, then action work accordingly”. 

As Deputy Chief Constable, Simon says he has multiple goals, including giving Derbyshire a clear direction, prioritising victim care and re-emphasising to cops why they are here and what they can achieve.

As for his relationship with Derbyshire Police Federation, Simon praised the work of chair Tony Wetton, secretary Kirsty Bunn and the Federation team.

“The working relationship between the Force and Derbyshire Police Federation is good and that is not always the case with other constabularies,” he said.

“I really appreciate being invited to regular meetings with the Federation, as it gives me an opportunity to hear what issues are impacting our officers. Sometimes we agree and at times, we disagree, and, in some cases, difficult conversations are required but we continue to work together collaboratively, for the good of the public we serve.”

READ MORE: Pre-retirement seminar helps member prepare for life outside of the Force.


June 2024