‘He always saw the good in people’ – Family leads tributes to ex-Staffordshire top cop, 59, who served force for 33 years

Retired Staffordshire Police chief superintendent Mick Harrison MBE, who served with the force for more than three decades, has died at the age of 59.

Mick was a well-known police officer who started out as a teenage bobby pounding the streets of Stoke-on-Trent, but worked his way up to become commander of the Trent Valley division in 2007.

As acting Assistant Chief Constable, Mick was the senior officer in charge of policing the English Defence League (EDL) demonstration in Stoke-on-Trent in 2010.

And following his retirement in 2011 he was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List in recognition of his 33 years service.

Retired Chief Superintendent Mick Harrison and his wife Karen at his MBE Investiture at Buckingham Palace in May 2012

Now his family and colleagues have paid tribute to Mick who joined Staffordshire County Council as a commissioner for community safety following his retirement from the force.

The dad-of-two was diagnosed with a brain tumour in July 2019 and despite chemotherapy and radiotherapy he died at the Douglas Macmillan Hospice on April 2.

His daughter Sam McDermott, aged 29, said: “He started his career in Stoke town before going to Longton, where he met my mum Karen who was also a police officer. He then moved to Stafford, Hanley and finished his career as divisional commander in Burton.

Chief Inspector Mick Harrison receiving a commendation from the former Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police (1996-2006), John Giffard
Chief Inspector Mick Harrison receiving a commendation from the former Chief Constable of Staffordshire Police (1996-2006), John Giffard

“He was presented with an MBE by Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace for his services to policing in 2012 and it was a really proud moment for him and us.

“His charisma and the way he dealt with people made him in line for that and he deserved it so much. He couldn’t believe it when he received the letter.

“He was so humble. He rose up through the ranks and achieved everything through hard work and determination.

“He wanted to make Staffordshire better for the people who live here and that’s why he continued with public service at Staffordshire County Council.”

Mick, who lived in Newcastle, had celebrated his 59th birthday less than a week before his death.

Born in Sydney, Australia, Mick grew up in New Zealand before moving to Kidsgrove aged 15, where he attended Clough Hall School and joined the police cadets two years later.

Mick, who left school with no qualifications, was awarded a diploma from Staffordshire University and a Master’s degree at Cambridge University in Policing and Criminology.

And he rose through the police ranks to become an Inspector in Stafford, where he was local policing commander, and then divisional commander for Trent Valley overseeing policing operations across the whole of Burton, Tamworth, Lichfield, Uttoxeter and Burntwood.

He leaves behind his two daughters Sam and Pip Harrison and wife of more than 30 years Karen.

Sam, who is pregnant with her first child, says her father was ‘the life and soul of any party’.

Mick Harrison's daughter Sam McDermott's wedding day in July 2019. Left to right: Pip Harrison, Sam McDermott, Mick Harrison and Karen Harrison
Mick Harrison’s daughter Sam McDermott’s wedding day in July 2019. Left to right: Pip Harrison, Sam McDermott, Mick Harrison and Karen Harrison

She said: “He never once moaned or complained throughout his treatment. He spent the last four weeks at the Douglas Macmillan and they’ve been absolutely amazing.

“He was the absolute life and soul of any party. He was positive and enthusiastic about everything and he brought people together. He always saw the good in people.

“Even the people on the other side of the law recognised my dad as a fair chap. He was a moral person who had lots of friends and was a season ticket holder at Stoke City.

“I’m pregnant and he never got a chance to meet his first grandchild who is due in May. He was so excited and she’ll always know what a brilliant granddad she had.

“He was the best husband to my mum and the best dad to me and my sister Pip. Pip was a really good swimmer and swam for Newcastle. Our dad would take her swimming at 6am five times a week, he was so dedicated and we both idolised him.

“The hole left in our lives is just huge.”

Friend and former colleague Deputy Chief Constable at Staffordshire Police, Nick Baker, said: “He wanted Staffordshire Police to be the best it could be and after he retired he joined Staffordshire County Council to continue his passion of public service.

“The ideals and values that the public would want in a police officer, Mick had them in spades. I’ve known him ever since I joined the force 30 years ago. We worked closely together through those years and he was my supervisor and colleague.

“He always considered himself as my older brother and he always looked out for me.

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“It was amazing how the news of his death travelled through the profession so quickly as he was so well known and so well regarded and the force itself was sad that day.

“That is quite a legacy for somebody who retired a number of years ago to still get that recognition.”

Philip Atkins, leader of Staffordshire County Council, said: “Mick Harrison MBE spent 30 years with Staffordshire Police in increasingly senior roles, before working at Staffordshire County Council for nine years – latterly as Assistant Director responsible for developing children’s services.

“His was a life devoted to public service in Staffordshire. Not only that, but he was a gentleman, known for his ready smile, good cheer and friendliness.

“He will be missed terribly by all those who knew him and our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”

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