When I was a young Metropolitan Police Cadet I did several tours of duty as what was termed ‘the observer’ in the back of the area car. The fast, first response car attached to the main Police Station of a District, within a Division. I was meant to be watching out for any thing suspicious. As I was stationed at Greenwich, which was the Headquarters of R Division, our car ‘call-sign’ was Romero One. It wasn’t called that because I was in it, but I did find it somewhat appropriate. I was a dreamer even then.
On one Monday, early turn, the hours of 7am to 3pm, I was so posted. As nothing ever happens on a Monday, the radio operator found a reason to be dropped off. He never explained his reasons to me, or why it was, that on leaving the car outside a private house, and arranging to be picked up in an hours time, he and the driver, a chap named Bert, exchanged a seemingly meaningful wink. I did think of why that could have been, but I wouldn’t like to malign any lady who might have lived in that house. I had a furtive mind perhaps.
We went about our normal duties, with me, now in charge of the radio and all communications directly received from Scotland Yard. As the shift was meandering to its uneventful conclusion, Scotland Yard ‘called’ the corresponding area car for the Eltham area of R Division.
‘Romeo Three, Romeo Three from Information Room. Two men seen to enter the premises of……..by breaking through the front door. Timed at’……A few seconds passed, and as there was no response, the message went out again. Romeo Three, Romero Three from information Room.’ The message was then repeated, still no response. ‘Any car to assist,’ came the standard call that followed, if the addressed recipient was unavailable.
Before Bert could say a word I jumped at it. “Romero One, we’ll go” I quickly volunteered. As to whether this amazed, disappointed or delighted Bert, to this day I’m not sure, but having now accepted this ‘job’ we were delegated and assigned.
It took little time to cover the distance and as we pulled up outside the offended house, I took over. “You go around the back Bert, I’m going in through the front.” I was a more than useful Rugby player at this time, fearing no-one and never having tasted the element of fright at any time in my short life. The ‘back-door’ was quite a distance from the front one, as the rear gardens of these semi-detached homes were very generous in size, so as I pushed open the wedged closed-door, by the door mat, I was aware that Bert might be sometime in arriving. I went straight to that back door and unlocked it. Even my simple mind managed to work out that the two were still in the house.
I quickly looked around on the ground level, then went up the stairs. I entered the main front bedroom and as I did a coat hanger in a built-in wardrobe moved, no window was open.
“Okay, out you come,” I said, and he did. He was about six-foot four and built of a sturdy nature, bigger than me, much bigger. “Where’s the other one?” I demanded. “Under the bed. Come out Roy, it’s a fair cop guv.” That was what he said!
Now you are doubting the authenticity of this account simply based on that last statement, and I don’t blame you, so would I, and I did. When I filled in the arrest documentation at Eltham Police Station, I substituted…’You’ve got us mate’ for the often television quoted….’Fair cop guv.’
The conclusion I draw from this account, and I sincerely hope you do the same, is that reality is often improved by imagination.