By Len A.Hynds

There is a strange relationship between certain policemen and criminal families that they have regular contact with. The families like to think of some policemen as their very own, even though that policeman had over the years arrested various members, which if the policeman had been straight and not pulled any strokes, the family knew that he was doing his job without fear or favour, and it was an occupational hazard that they faced and fully accepted. In effect, they trusted him, and on nearly every occasion would only speak to him when arrested by another.

I had such a relationship with a particular family in a very poor part of South London. The mum, who I will call Sally, had a large tribe of children of all ages, and each by a different dad, each one of those dads being a villain, most of them burglars. Sally was the original Black Widow Spider and had it worked to a fine art. When she learnt that one of those dads was due to be released from prison, she would ask me to call, to shop the present occupant of her bed, and tell me in great detail of what burglaries he had done, so that I would feel his collar, and he would go back into prison, thereby making room for the one about to be released. I could never mention her name when interviewing or at court, and they all thought it came about through fingerprints or information supplied by somebody else. So she was ensuring a future cycle of unsuspecting burglars using her bed.

She had a daughter whom I shall call Shirley, She had been a customer of mine, and had then married an evil little creature named David, who I had also arrested for indecency. She had then left him and shacked up with a hulking brute one Mickey Green, who was an enforcer in one of the protection gangs. I had also felt his collar in the past for something quite minor.

I had left the police at the Flying Squad at Scotland Yard, and it must have been a year later when Shirley phoned them asking for my location, as she said, ' She could trust no one else.' I was then the Group Security Manager of a large retail company, and I was surprised to get her call. She was very secretive, giving me her address, telling me who she was living with, and asked me to call as a matter of urgency.

I went to the address in North London, and she opened the door with Mickey behind her. I told them that I was in the area, had been told their address, so thought I would call and scrounge a cup of tea. We went into the kitchen, and after some general gossip, Mickey went upstairs. I whispered to Shirley, "What's going on." She put her finger to her lips, and left the room. I heard Mickey coming down the stairs accompanied by another man who I didn't recognise, and they left the house.

Shirley then came down and I said, "What the hells going on?

She said, "Have you read about that murder in West London"? I nodded. "Well we've been used as safe house, and he's been here for a week." I told her off for not telling me while he was in the house, and she said, "No way. Mick had told him that you were ex-Sweeney, and when I went up he was behind the door with that gun in his hand. He thought it was you "She continued, "How could we explain you getting shot in our house?

She told me that someone in South London was lending his car, for him to be taken to another safe house up in the midlands. In his usual thick way Mick had left the address of the next safe house with her in case she needed him.

I drove to the address in South London from where the car was being borrowed, but they had got there before me and had already left. The owner however was an old customer of mine and owed me a favour, so I soon had the index number etc.

I made a quick phone call to the murder squad and the car was stopped on the old A1 and both men arrested.

Two days later I was invited to the murder squad office where they were having a celebration and it was with shock that I realised that the civilian the Chief Inspector was talking about was in fact me. I felt quite despondent that I was no longer one of them, but it felt wonderful to feel back in harness again.