About

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My name is John Sutherland.

I am a married dad of three and I live with my wife and children in South London.

I joined the Metropolitan Police in 1992 and served in a variety of ranks and roles for more than twenty-five years, until my early retirement on medical grounds in 2018.

These days, I speak a bit and I write a bit.

My first book, Blue, was a Sunday Times bestseller. It tells the stories of my policing life and of my slow recovery from the serious nervous breakdown that ended my operational career.

My second book, Crossing the Line, will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson on May 14 2020.

43 thoughts on “About

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  1. Hi Johnny, I don’t know if you remember, but we spoke at the picnic after your talk at HTC a few months back. I remember you saying you were involved in recruitment for the met, and i just wondered if you were able to talk a bit more about that ?

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  2. Hey there JS. What a brilliant piece of thoughtful, insightful and hopeful writing. You made me think about a number of young men and children I’ve already met and those I’ve still to meet. You inspire me to do better.

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    1. Mr Sutherland, like you I’ve been in the MPS for over 26 years. Last Christmas I went bang in a big way. I knew things weren’t right for the past 12 years but as police do we laugh it off. Despite mental health being more accepted it does feel like a stigma and despite all the job rhetoric about help there is still little support. Following a couple of suicide attempts I managed to get back to work in the midst of the pandemic. I felt like a square peg in a round hole. Off I went again following another manic episode. I think I’m getting better and was given your first book to read. I had heard of you in the Job and listened to a talk you gave and was impressed, so I was keen to get stuck in. Only the first chapter took me straight to that stress and anxiety, that knot in the stomach and tightening of the chest. The burden of responsibility and pressures from all directions. I couldn’t read anymore and made me realise…I’m not ready…..yet

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  3. Hey there. I’m proud to say I’ve served with you as you were one of my line managers when at FS. Love that your grounded still and have realistic views on what it is like front line which is rare for a senior officer. I can’t thank you enough for your honesty in your blogs and can’t wait for the book.

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      1. Hi John. I follow you on twitter. I was Police staff for over 26 years & live in W London. I have set up a drama group and now have lottery funding to raise awareness of DA and Hate Crime within a gay male relationship. Our first play ratified by the Diamond group was on DA within a heterosexual marriage and culminated in the death of a young wife at the hands of her controlling abusive husband. It also portrayed the IO as a “normal” human being with feelings! It would be great if you were able to attend our production in February

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  4. Hi John,

    Once again, I thought Blue was a humbling read, thanks to you and yours for what you do.

    I wanted to ask this:

    As a senior officer in the MPS, what can you do to highlight your experience and prevent this burnout from happening to other Police Officers ? My thinking is that you may be in a unique ( unfortunate ! ) position to have had this experience and be close enough to the centre to make a cultural difference across the whole of the MPS. There maybe literally thousands of officers dealing with stress / PTSD / fatigue on a daily basis – but there is the safety net that your service needs to ensure the well being of its staff ?

    I could not do your job, so I went and joined the Royal Air Force instead ! The issues around MH and burnout are present there too ( take a look at at – http://www.fastjetperformance.com/podcasts/when-good-pilots-go-bad ) so it would be interesting to know your approach to the problem..

    Thanks for your time John,

    TC

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  5. Mr Sutherland. I have followed you pretty much since you gently arrived on the SM scene because that is what you did. No fanfares, no explosion of publicity but a gentle clearing of the voice and a hello whilst stood at the back of the room. I was drawn to your sincerity and honesty, even more so when I realised you were a senior police officer. I thought to myself that this gentleman was different. Clearly other people also thought so and your following quickly increased with your “Today somewhere a police officer will….”. I have read your book twice now to fully appreciate your experience. It is one many police officers will fully understand when perhaps others not engaged in law enforcement won’t. I look forward to your future work John Sutherland and clearly you still have much to give for which we are all greatful. Dave Thomas

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  6. Hi, I’ve just read your brilliant book. Thank you for writing it and allowing an honest insight into what it’s truly like to be a member of the MPS. Congratulations on all that you’ve done and continue to do.

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  7. I came to your blog via your twitter comment on that dreadful Daily Mail headline. Your TEDx talk is fantastic. I found myself about to switch off at 5 minutes saying out loud “I get it”. But the really important stuff came later and I am so glad I kept listening.

    I am the grandson of a met police sergeant whom I never met. But the stories I hear of him make me certain he needed the sort of help that mercifully you have been able to find. You standing up and talking of counselling and medication is properly inspirational. Looks to me like you have found your way of making a real difference in the world. You are courageous, decent and eloquent. I am in awe.

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  8. Sir-I’m a probationer who was reading this blog, and in particular the entry on pressing your Emma button for the first time yesterday before coming on shift. Then a few hours later I had my first rollaround and pressing of the dreaded red button. I was thinking of the entry when we finally pinned the suspect down with the help of 4 other units. There definitely is no feeling like that when you hear the sirens arrive!
    I also read your book before starting training and it made me so excited (and a little nervous) to start.
    Thank you for all your work- both as a senior officer in the Met and as someone starting a conversation about important issues in policing.

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  9. John, I have just read your book, it was sent to me with resources from Red Arc, part of my federation insurance. I broke on 8th December 2017, just shy of 18 years of frontline policing, starting in the Met and now at South Yorkshire Police, Sheffield. Your book forms a notable entry in my diary of misery. It has helped me to understand what has happened to me over these years. Thank you so much for writing this book.

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    1. I’m so sorry you’re having a tough time… Sending you my very, very best wishes. I promise that it does get better. That doesn’t mean (in my experience at least) that everything will always be easy – but it does get better. Go gently…

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  10. Hi Sir, I am a PC in Sussex and have just finished reading your book. I would love to chat with you about the wonderful thing you call Grace but don’t know how to contact you, if at all possible?

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    1. Hi Ruth… Forgive the slow reply. Having not met before, you’ll understand if I don’t give out a phone number. If you wanted to send an email from your sussex pnn account, you’d be welcome to do so. There is a contact email address on my Twitter home page. With very best wishes. John

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      1. Forgive my even slower reply. I have veeb off for a couple of years. My husband said he sent a message. I’m not on twitter but are you still using the same email address?

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  11. John, I have just read your book and it brought back memories of my own 30 years in the Met.
    Having spent most of my career as a detective investigating domestic violence, sexual assaults and child abuse I understand and agree with a lot of your thoughts of what violence and abuse in the family can do.
    Like you I ended up with serious stress and depression towards the end of my career. Unfortunately many, including the Met do not look at this as a illness and made me feel that they felt I was putting it on. I still feel disgusted in the way I was treated by them.
    You book was an amazing read and hopefully will make others understand that stress and depression is a real problem within the Police. It needs to be talked about more.Thank you for doing so.
    What your book does bring out is how much every Police officer cares about what they are doing and that they will genuinely try to help anyone they can, even those we do not respect or like.

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  12. John,
    I was at the police conference that you spoke at on the 5th March 2019. I had struggled myself with depression and crippling anxiety for several years and a friend had recommended your book. I have to say that it was the biggest help and comfort to me that someone else had put into words the exact way I was feeling but could not vocalise. I came to the conference to hear you speak, it was captivating. I was on the brink of both tears and elation as you spoke about your personal experience. I had bought a copy of your book to get signed and whipped out of it at the last minute. I did want to tell you this in person but anxiety got to me. I still have some way to go. I want to thank you most of all for battling the stigma in organisations like mine. You captured everybody’s attention and I suspect a lot of new fans. Thank you

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    1. Dear Jessica – what a lovely message to get on my return home. Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to drop me a line – and for being so kind. I wish you incredibly well on your own journey – and I’d be happy to sign your copy of Blue next time! With very best wishes. John

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  13. Loved Blue, met you @ the 2018 Fleet Festival. Do you remember meeting that crazy cat Christian Vargas head of YWAM’s Camden Hope & Anchor church? Want some more amazing, inspirational stories? He can be reached at christian_pr7@hotmail.com He’d love to meet you again.

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  14. John, I have just heard you on Radio 5 Live. Brilliant interview. It is so good to hear you talk about domestic abuse as ‘The Other Pandemic’. I have worked and researched in that field for nearly 15 years. It is shocking enough that 2 women a week (pre-Covid) were being killed by their partner. What is not well known is that on average 3.6 women kill themselves each week because of domestic abuse – they get so ground down by the abuser, they cannot see any way to escape; they prefer death to continuing to live with him [estimate in Walby S. (2004) ‘The cost of domestic violence.’ Women and Equality Unit, Department of Trade and Industry]. So that is nearly 6 women a week killed by this Pandemic, this week, next week, next year, in 10 years’ time – unless we do something radical. (Men are also victims – but fewer, 1 in 6, and to a lesser extent.)
    Domestic abuse accounts for more than 10% of all crime reported to police, and 12% (one in eight) suicides and attempted suicides of women [Walby S. (2004) as above] .
    I am currently fund- and awareness-raising about domestic abuse in the West Country – and would like to quote you on this issue https://www.facebook.com/Stairway-to-the-Space-Station-107117157661403
    Thank you so much for highlighting the issue.
    Sue Jones (Dr)

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    1. Really good to hear from you Sue – thank you for taking the time and trouble to drop me a line. You would be welcome to quote me… There’s a hole chapter on DV in the book – and I include the statistics about suicides. I regard it as the single greatest cause of harm in society.

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      1. Thank you, John. Is this the best way to communicate with you? I could send a link to the website when I get it together, where I would like to quote you – and in the Facebook page, if I may. Thank you. Sue

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