A LEWISHAM policeman who was attacked during his first arrest and later accidentally tracked down a murderer has just celebrated 30 years in the force.

In an unusual feat, PC Jim Horan - currently assigned to gun and drug investigators Operation Trilogy - has spent every year of his three decades in the same borough.

Even when he was asked to choose a new posting in the 1990s, the policeman chose to stay in the borough he loved.

PC Horan said: "Having done 30 years, there's not one day I've woken up and thought 'oh my god, I've got to go to work'. I've loved every minute of it."

He added: "Over the past five or 10 years I've been arresting the children of the people I was nicking 20 years ago. There's a rapport there."

From Sussex originally, he arrived in Catford at the age of 19, having never heard of the place and was quickly out on the streets with just his truncheon and notebook.

He still remembers his first arrest, an encounter with a van driver who fled his vehicle and was pursued through people's gardens, hurling metal dustbin lids at the young policeman giving chase.

The PC recalled: "When I caught him, the first thing he did was head butt me and knee me in the groin. I had a bit of a roll around with him."

After three months, he moved to Sydenham and spent a lot of time on night duty - arresting people allowing him an opportunity to get out of the cold.

In the mid-1980s came one of his proudest achievements while conducting house to house enquiries on a murder in Taylor's Lane with the suspect described as a man with a long-haired Alsation dog.

On the way to get a cup of coffee, the PC spotted a man fitting the description. With others, he knocked on every door of the block of flats where the man had entered, pretending to be a Jehovah's Witness.

When the killer's door opened, they forced their way in, finding a blood-stained knife and bloodied clothing.

He said: "You make your own luck. You've got to have a nose for it, to know when there's something just not right."

Another highlight was the Queen's Jubilee, but PC Horan said the important thing was that the Met had kept pace with the country.

He remarked: "Society's changed as a whole in these 30 years, but I think the police changed with it. It may have taken a few years to see that we had to do that."