Friends of the

Metropolitan Police History

Officer 104

Location of interview:Skype from his home in France

Officer's Gender:Male

Date joined Met Police:10 July 1961

Date left Met Police: 1 August 1985

Rank of leaving:Constable

Divisons served:

Specialist service:No specialities

Transcript of interview

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Track 2: 3’08” Early life and reason for joining the MET: family originated from South Wales.  Parents moved from Swansea to London during the Depression.  Parents bought a house in Balham.  Recalls growing up in South London and schooling in Streatham, where he met his wife at 12 years old.  Father wished he would enter an apprenticeship.  Explains the influence of his aunt who had been a war reserve PC.  Recalls his neighbour in Balham had brought him all the recruiting literature for MET, Army, Navy and RAF.  Explains that he also applied to the Army and Air force as well as the MET.  Explains why he didn’t apply to the Navy.  Interview process at Borough High Street.  (Interference)

Track 3: Blank

Track 4: 9’23” Comparison between Balham and Romford.  Recalls that he was very familiar with Balham.  Recalls he was one of the first young PCs to arrive for many years, compared to the majority who were ex-serviceman.  Felt that he was unwanted.  Recalls working the ground.  Large residential area, some industrial and Clapham Common.  Recalls Clapham Common came alive at night.  Explains after about 15 months he was posted to ride motorcycles.  Recalls that this led to him gaining lots of police experience as a motorbike PCs were sent to most scenes.  Explains this led him to seek driving training.  Big ambition was to work the area car.

Explains Romford work and how it compared to Balham.  Explains that Essex had lacked manpower and legal power to deal with youth offences.  Harold Wood frequent incidence of youth offences and apparent inability of police officers to deal with them.   Recalls one of the main offences in the town centre involved youth misbehavior.  Straight Road 2 schools, in which one there was a night club.   Remembers being called out at night to deal with bad behaviour of youngsters leaving the night club at night.  Remembers one particular incident of clearing a number of youngsters and helping one youth.

Track 5:8’50” Romford and becoming a driver by ‘accident’.  Remembers street work and police protocol for working the beat.  Not being allowed to return to the station once out working the beat.  Recalls one incident of returning to the reserve room to warm up on a cold day.  Remembers a Chief Inspector finding him in the station and him allocating him to a driving course.  Reflects on the Police driving course.  Limited driving opportunities.  Van course at Hendon and reflects how this increased his driving opportunities.  Recommendation to intermediate car course, which was 5 weeks long.  After this he worked the area car.  Recalls the car models that were used.  Shortage of drivers.  1 year later he went to an advanced driving course and this led him to be almost solely working in the area car.  Recalls the S-type Jaguar and its faults.  Replaced by Rovers.  Teamed up with Jack Cook as area car drivers for 14 years at Romford.  Recalls leaving because he had had enough of dealing with repetitive crime.

Track 6: 12’00” Moving on from Romford to Diplomatic Protection Group for 6 months.  Posted to A Base, which was Tottenham Court Road.  Drove the Ranger Car.  Recalls that this allowed him to experience new interesting sides to police work.  Explains his horror at returning to area car work, so applied to B11 central garage at Lambeth.  Driving various vehicles for 12 months, such as prison bus, lorries, or senior officers.   Reapplied to return to diplomatic protection at A base.  Continued Rover Car work there, which involved a huge range of driving roles.  Recalls being pulled in to see the Chief Superintendent, who requested he work at 10 Downing Street.  Conundrum of holiday plans and police duty demands.  10 Downing Street work was offered to him on the condition that he could have a month’s leave.  Friction between A division and diplomatic protection.  Explains that he was replacing an officer who had been arrested for a criminal offence.  Working for Margaret Thatcher and the positive vetting procedure.  2 ½ years working at Downing Street.  Working indoors.  Reflects on his great enjoyment working at Downing Street and Margaret Thatcher.  Recalls Thatcher’s family.  Describes a story involving a policeman at Downing Street at this time.  Pre-Christmas drinks by officers and Carol Thatcher joining them for a drink.  So the officers invited the rest of the Thatcher family for a drink.  Recalls one officer kissing Thatcher under the mistletoe.

Later posted to Kensington.

Track 7: 5’25” Reflects on time in Diplomatic Protection and being armed.  Firearms course.  Old Street centre and the shooting range behind Selfridges.  Explains that another army range was used in Essex.  Trained with Smith and Wesson revolvers as well as 9mm firearms.  Working with firearms at Downing Street. Explains uniform and acquiring Navy pullovers.  Fire arms training programme every 3 months. 

Track 8: 11’56” Leaving Downing Street and moving to Kensington.  Working a borough he did not know and returning to the Ranger car.  Recalls feeling uncomfortable driving the area car, so applied to Westminster.  Approaching retirement, which encouraged him to move to A Division.  Working the Palace of Westminster.  Reflects on how interesting the buildings were and observing government.  Difficulty dealing with MPs.  Reflects on surprising characters of some MPs.  George Thomas wonderful man, who worked as the senior officer to the Westminster area.  Dealing with traffic and cyclists.  One incident of chasing a cyclist with a Rolls Royce because he would not stop.  George Thomas decided on the punishment of the cyclist.  Reflects on 3 years service and suffering from back problems.  Specialist at St Thomas’ hospital.  Physiotherapy.  CMO called him in and suggested he take sick leave in 1985.  So left the police force.  Called into Palace of Westminster and recalls how hard it was to leave.  Handing in uniform and warrant card.  Impact of realising he was no longer a policeman.  His shock and the difficult adjustment to ‘normal’ civilian life.  Felt he was now ‘nothing’. Saddest day of his life when he left the Force.

Track 9: 2’54” recalls particular demonstrations or incidents.  Change of the uniforms during his career.  Military discipline in the police force.  Clapham Common south side and dealing with a Balham traffic point in thick fog.  Ted Gates.

Track 10: 1’15” Continues story from track 9: Ted Gates told him to continue traffic duty in the thick fog.  Recalls his appalling behavior.

Track 11: 0’46” Second interview 104, 26th September 2012, Barry Walsh.

Track 12: 9’50” Incidents: Attending a serious accident in Balham involving a car and an escorted wide load.  Recalls another side swiping crash between two cars with horrific results.  Boots the gardener disappeared one night at a pub.  Moving to Romford and working as an aid to Essex Constabulary.  Emerson Park Police station.  Country PCs introducing the City and MET PCs to rural life and taking them to the local Abattoir.  Making them find Fillidor Road.  Collapse of Ronan Point.  Attending the incident in the morning.  Main duty dealing with accidents and burglaries.  Gallows Corner major accident.  Heavy loader carrying a tank.  The Tank had toppled off the loader causing major mayhem.  Using the Gallows Corner flyover for overflow traffic.

Track 13: 10’37” Demonstrations: 1960s had frequent demonstrations.  Flat back trucks used as transportation for the police.  No canteen facilities.  Improvement after they started attending demonstrations via underground.  Later coaches introduced.  Grosvenor Square demonstrations against the Americans.  Uniforms.  Violent Grosvenor Square demonstrations.  Prisoner being dragged back into the crowd.  Iranian embassy siege.  Recalled to shift work for the duration of the siege.  Posted to the basement of the building next door to the building.  SAS officers also worked in the basement.  Reflects on the characters in the SAS that he met and their activities.  Recalls during the Iranian Embassy siege when a white transit type van tried to establish an undercover post without observation.  SAS cabin erected silently.  Recalls the raid that ended the siege.  Reflects on relatively inexperienced armed policeman.  Trevor Lock a Kensington officer.

Track 14: 1’22” Talks about other incidents.  Responding to IRA Parliament bombing of Airey Neave.  Refused entry because they were armed police officers.  Recalls it was because of Parliament’s fear of an armed coup.

Track 15: 1’34” Palace at Westminster: soon after arrival.  Worked as Mikhail Gorbachev’s armed escort.  Reflects on Gorbachev and his wife.  Recalls the rest of his entourage.

Track 16: 7’45” Working at Romford and area car drivers’ accidents: Police Morris elderly van and introduction of the blue light on the roof.  Recalls that one officer’s attempt to park the van in the garage and knocked the blue light off.  Recalls he was given task of driving the repaired van and responding to a car breaking.  Explains that when he entered the car park where the incident took place he again knocked off the blue light! Another incident in the S-type Jaguar area car.  Incident chasing a stolen car exceeding 100mph and crashing into obstruction in the dual carriageway.  Recalls they pushed the car back to the obstruction so that when their senior officer arrived he could see the reason for their crash.  Recalls that the treatment of emergencies was very different then.

Track 17: 2’24” Explains the Bontos potatoes area on the A12 near Marylebone Lane, where concrete buildings were located, which housed anti-aircraft guns.  Recalls one chap explaining that he shot down a motorcycle. 

Track 18: 1’26” Pre-Christmas Romford request was to be working tackling illegal market traders.  Recalls the whole relief was sent out with bollards to separate traffic in Romford.

Track 19: 8’43” Life after the MET: left on medical grounds.  Member of the Intenrational Police Association (IPA).  Friends with a Durban police officer.  Decision to immigrate to the continent on retirement.  Initially wanted to move to Germany, but due to finances moved to France.  Bought an old ruin in France.  Explains the process of renovating the building.  Explains that he had useful friends who helped them renovate the building.  Converted the house within 18 months and have lived there for 27 years.  Involvement with the local community.  Village of only 65 people asked him to do handyman jobs.  Established his role as local DIY man for the village and development of his French.  Moved to a larger village after 10 years, which had more facilities.  Flash flood at their new house due to blocked drains.  Tropical rain.  Recalls how the local community helped them rebuild their home.  Recalls the local priest offered them money to help buy necessary items.  Involvement in local tourism industry.  Builds websites and works as a guide for people coming to visit the area.

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