One night in 1952, I was on duty at the Brixton Crime Patrol, standing in a deep shop doorway, to get out of the cold night wind, when during the early hours I suddenly saw a face peering around the corner, of the road opposite. I had myself a customer, a potential burglar who was about to commit a shop-breaking, and making quite sure that the main road was clear of the odd pedestrian or passing car before committing his foul deed.
Eventually he came out onto the pavement, carrying a brick, and raising his arm he hurled the brick at a Jewellers shop window. Even as the glass pane was falling shattered to the pavement, with an appalling din, he was moving forward to grab his loot, and I had emerged from my hiding place, and was racing across the road to grab him.
He suddenly realised that I was almost on top of him and he threw himself sideways and ran terribly fast down that same side turning, with me in close pursuit. After several streets he was beginning to slow down, and I caught up with him, but instead of giving up, the fool started to fight me, and a fist fight went on for a couple of minutes, until at last I got him to the ground, with me laying beside him, my legs wrapped round his waist, one of my arms around his neck, forcing his head back and my other hand was forcing an arm up his back in a half-nelson.
We had finished up on the deck in this locked in position down the garden path of an old Victorian house, and the villain in his struggles was kicking at the street door. I knew that once I got my breath back, and tried to stand up with my prisoner, the fight would start again, in his attempt to escape, and I knew by the size of this man, the trouble I would have. There were no such things as personal radios in those days, and very few households had telephones, As I was contemplating my next move, so as not to lose my prisoner, the street door opened very slightly, and a very elderly lady peering round the door with her hair in curlers, looked down in amazement at us.
I asked her if she had a telephone, and she said that she had, and I asked her to dial 999 and tell them that an officer needed urgent assistance.
She vanished, and shortly afterwards the door opened again, and she said that she had done that. She then said, "My sister told me to ask you if you would like a cup of tea officer, and do you take sugar, and we're afraid we only have biscuits." I found it hard not to smile at this, but thanked her very much, but I was pretty tied-up at that particular moment. She smiled sweetly and closed the door. The prisoner said, "The bleedin old cow, she didn't offer me a cup."
I pushed his arm further up his back until he yelped with pain "Wotcher do that for?"
"Don't be rude, the lady might hear you."