Doncaster police chief who arrested Santa set to retire after 30 years
Shaun Morley knew working for the police was going to be interesting pretty early in his career.
It was a December night, and he was on patrol. He came across a car and suspected the driver had been drinking. He seemed to be driving all over the road.
He pulled him over, at around 1am on Christmas morning – to discover the driver dressed head toe in a Father Christmas costume.
"I got him to sit on the front of the car, and breathalysed him,” said Ch Supt Morley. “The reading went to red, and he bolted, running off down the road.
"I was chasing him, speaking into my radio. They asked for a description. I just had to say, he looks like Santa, and he’s dressed like Santa. I couldn’t believe it! I just thought ‘I hope one sees this’. What would kids have made of it if they looked out of the window hoping to see Santa on Christmas morning?”
It may have taught him to expect the unexpected.
But after 30 years in the force, he is now looking at retiring after rising to the rank of chief superintendant, and spendling the last few years as South Yorkshire Police’s Doncaster area commander.
Ch Supt Morley is one of two of Doncaster’s most senior officers to retire at the same time – having started on the same day in 1991 as Chief Insp Sharon Hancock, Doncaster’s chief inspector for operations.
Starting his career in Sheffield, he still remembers his first arrest – for theft of goldfish from a pond at a house in Woodseats. He knocked on a few doors, and found out someone had been acting suspiciously. He found the fish in their pond!
“In those days, it was the sort of crime you could spend time researching and investigating,” he said. “The demands we have now may mean we couldn’t do that.”
That may have been the first arrest, but he went on work on high profile cases including murder investigations.
After completing his probation period, he went on to work as a detective, before becoming a sergeant in 1997 in Attercliffe, then a detective sergeant, and an inspector in 2000 in Sheffield city centre, initially for the custody area at the former West Bar police station.
By 2009 he was chief inspector in Barnsley, before becoming superintendent for Sheffield East, and chief superintentent in charge of Sheffield district in 2017.
He took command of the Doncaster district in February 2018.
His period in charge has seen some of the most high profile emergencies the borough has seen in recent years – the floods of November 2019, and the coronavirus lockdown.
The biggest changes Mr Morley has seen in his 30 years have been technology.
"When I started, we had to do crime reports on typewriters. But the technology now in terms of assisting with investigations and making our business more effective has been incredible. We didn’t even have mobile phones – we were completely reliant on radios. There has been significant change in that respect and in terms of demands on the force, which have increased. We’ve had challenges over resourcing levels but that’s been offset both in terms of structures and processes where we work.
"I think when I came to Doncaster, what I needed to do was change the structures and processes internally to maintain the services we provide to the public. We were coming out of austerity and relationships in terms of neighbourhood policing had been reduced. We’ve tried to effectively develop our engagement with communities, to understand what they want, and provide effective services.
“We redesigned our response function and reorganised our investigative function and our abilty to manage and address organised crime, and developed partnerships.
“I would like to think we’re in a better position to where we where three years ago to respond to members of the public. Response times have improved significantly, and our ability to investigate and the quality of informaton had improved. Our engagement with the public is constantly improving although there’s a lot of work to be done.
"I am handing over what I hope is a good policing service with funds to provide a very good policing service and improve the safety of the community in Doncaster.
"I think it’s about continuing to build relationships.
"We want to work as a partnership to stop people being drawn into organised crime, so they feel valued members of society without feeling the need to pursue crime.
"We have a system in place that tries to see things coming and solve problems. Neighbourhoods are a critical part of that.
“The two biggest events have been the floods and the Covid pandemic.
"The pandemic has meant that the expectations on police have changed, sometimes on a weekly basis, with us trying to manage these requirements, as well as the expectations of the public, as well as the health and safety of our officers. It has been a fine balancing act. It is probably the most significant challenge we have had to face.
"While a lot of people stayed at home, our officers had to go out there and responsibilities increased significantly. Given that backdrop it was always going to be a significant challenge.
"But it has been an honour and a privilege to work with South Yorkshire Police, and hopefully I can walk away having made a valid contribution to Doncaster and the wider South Yorkshire community.”
Away from policing, Ch Supt Morley also hit the headlines as a wrestler. He was a five time national champion, who also managed the British national wrestling team in the 2012 Olympics.