Policing London was never a job for the remotely faint hearted

Certainly not in those swinging sixties days when yours truly started.

Posted to the docklands and the Limehouse of old Chinatown

Where staff would swarm like howling bees to bring a welshing diner down,

And known villains slid by in their favoured MarkTwo shiny Jags

Never visibly short of a bob or two but never generous with their fags..

Streets full of seamen ashore from their ships in search of a salt-free drink

Impressing local landlubbers with the amount of booze they would sink;

Fights breaking out like wildfire caused by an ill-judged remark

Hidden weapons appearing with demonic intent to make their merciless mark.

Calls to "Domestics" - a regular and tawdry fact of falled married life,

Hours spent listening - between separating violent husband and wife.

Peace-keeping advice a sticking plaster at best in a hopeless situation -

These were so frequent and regular there was no real expectation

That calling "Old Bill" was little else but a chance to visibly ensure

The involvement of tired coppers and the notebooks of The Law.

And as for the endless demos and marches that took us up West

On leave days cancelled without notice - repaid in cash at best.;

But the streets were our fiefdom in law and those challenging us took a risk

Throwing down that gauntlet would mean that business was brisk!













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John Botterill

Sat 4th Dec 2021 11:24

I really enjoyed this trip down memory lane, M. C.. The reality might have been less enjoyable, though ?
John Botterill

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Stephen Gospage

Mon 22nd Nov 2021 17:32

Fascinating piece, M.C. My brother was also at Limehouse as a PC and then a Sergeant in the 1980s and 1990s, where he seemed to specialise in arresting the relatives of well known boxers and people who drove their cars into shop windows. All law-abiding folk, except when they didn't feel like being!

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M.C. Newberry

Sat 20th Nov 2021 13:27

Thanks Jennifer. I took a lot of pleasure rendering unexpected
service of various sorts, recalling the look on one lady's face,
after she "lost" her money in a recalcitrant parking meter that
refused to register its payment and she had approached me on
my patrol with her tale of woe, a clearly stressed law-abiding woman trying to do the right thing but failed by unforgiving
I took great pleasure in giving the meter a good thump that
saw it display an instant accurate reading. Her expression
varied between shock, disbelief and relief as I ambled away
on my patrol. Well, it wasn't all "sticks and stones", you know - and a sense of fun certainly helped! ?

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jennifer Malden

Sat 20th Nov 2021 09:57

Fantastic! Loved 'the staff would swarm........., so well rendered. The police in those days were considered friends by most people, and often did much more than just their duty. Jennifer

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M.C. Newberry

Thu 18th Nov 2021 13:42

Thanks Keith. Nothing in life is perfect, that's for sure. But it
seems in retrospect (the "benefit of hindsight"!) that the streets
were safer then and coppers had some sort of built-in sense of
fair play and a sense of duty that saw them often perform above
and beyond what was expected of them, even becoming trusted confidants in delicate and occasionally risky matters that came
their way; like the local priest and old home-visiting family GP,
part of a society that had developed its values and priorities
over centuries. Sadly, much of that seems to have dissipated
in recent decades and we are paying the price.

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keith jeffries

Wed 17th Nov 2021 23:59

And to think that most of this was carried out on foot or a bicycle before they retreated to cars. Halcyon days when great trust was invested in the local constabulary.

I enjoyed this thank you

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