He was used to nicking thieves, finding missing people and investigating deaths, but a police constable never thought he’d end up helping bring life into the world as well.
Nearly 23 years after he delivered Jayde Talbot-Scobie on the forecourt of Borehamwood Police Station, Derrick Sweeney met her and her mother Rayleigh Elmon to remember the “best day of his career”.
The three of them appeared on BBC’s The One Show last week in a feature about people born in unusual places.
During a day’s filming, Ms Elmon and Mr Sweeney talked about the day Jayde came into the world and read articles in The Borehamwood Times describing her unusual birth.
Ms Elmon was at home in Pursley Gardens on September 24, 1991 when she felt her waters break.
Unable to call an ambulance because the phone lines were down, she waited until her husband Andrew Talbot-Scobie returned from work.
But instead of bundling his heavily pregnant wife into the car and dashing to Watford General, he decided to make and eat a cheese sandwich before driving to hospital.
He was still eating the sandwich when he and his wife got in the car, but by then it was too late.
Ms Elmon said: “I knew we’d never get to the hospital in time so I asked Andrew to drive to the ambulance station, only to find they were out on a call.
“By that time Andrew was panicking so the only thing we could think of was pulling into the police station car park and hoping there would be someone to help.”
Mr Sweeney, now watch liason officer for Hertfordshire Constabulary, was on his break when Ms Elmon arrived outside the police station in her Toyota Space Cruiser.
He said: “I was called by one of my colleagues who said a woman was about to give birth outside the police station, they said I’d been present at the birth of my five babies so was the best qualified.
“I thought it was a wind up at first. But I went outside and found Rayleigh already in labour. She refused to come into the police station so I and my colleague Steve Scott ended up delivering the baby crouching by the car’s passenger door.
“I was panicking but I told her, I’ve seen five children being born and you’ve given birth to five, so we can do it together.
“We placed Rayleigh on sheets one of my colleagues, who was also a scout master, happened to have in the back of his car, so the Toyota wouldn’t get too filthy.”
Jayde was born within 12 minutes of Ms Elmon’s arrival and was wrapped in a pink tea towel, also from the scout master’s car.
He said: “Delivering Jayde was a fantastic experience. I enjoyed finding a missing person, or reuniting someone with their stolen goods but bringing Jayde into the world has been the high point of my working life.”
Ms Elmon said she still remembered Mr Sweeney’s quick thinking on the day.
She said: “We always kept in touch with Derrick and for years afterwards we would hold a birthday party for Jayde at the police station, to remember that day.”
Jayde, who is now a beauty therapist, loves hearing about the story of her birth.
She said: “I found it funny and always told my friends about it, but none of them believed me. I’m a bit of a silly person, so being born in a police station forecourt is about right for me.”