It was exhilarating to chase another driver at high speed, but only if that driver was competent. So many times I chased teenagers, and knew that they could not control the vehicle they had stolen, and the longer the chase lasted the worse I felt, that every bend they took, that every junction that they crossed brought them nearer to a most appalling death.
I found that I was blaming myself for pushing them too fast, and was tempted on several occasions to slow down and let them get away, but the system and my training prevented this. I really began to understand the pressure that some police drivers were under causing real stress, and that it was getting too much for them. I never reached that stage, but sympathised with those that had.
A car containing three men who had been involved in an armed hold-up in Houndsditch had been lost by pursuing police cars, but was last seen heading towards Tower Bridge. It had originally been chased towards the East End, but had been forced to try to go south of the river and I guessed it would try for one of the tunnels to regain the East End.
I heard that 6M for Mike was racing to cover Rotherhithe Tunnel on the South side, and 5M for Mike was racing down from Southwark in case he came straight down the Tower Bridge Road, to use the Old Kent Road to make a wider sweep to the east.
I also had this thought in mind and was racing to link up with 5M. I saw 5M roar out of Tabard Street and try to block the Tower Bridge Road, in front of the bandit car, but it swerved around 5M nearly turning over and came straight towards me. I did a controlled U turn skid and tucked in behind him, and our car was one of the new Wolseley 6/90s. A very fast car with a manual gear stick on the right hand side of the driver almost set into the seat. At speeds very fast we soon reached New Cross, my operator, giving the commentary that 6L for Lucy was now in close pursuit. Several guns were thrown out of the windows, which was one less thing to worry about when we stopped these monkeys.
There were a host of police cars from P and R divisions waiting at New Cross and I had to follow the bandit car as it tried to weave about to find a way past, going through the bus depot twice at high speed, causing all those crews to run for their lives. It finished up in Goodwin Street, and drove onto a bomb site where rebuilding was taking place behind a high chain link fence The robbers jumped out and ran in different directions with my two lads chasing them, but the driver who I had made up my mind was going to be mine raced towards the fence and started climbing it. There was no time to get out, so drove 6L slowly straight at him and my red hot radiator pinned the lower part of his legs against this pliable fence. He couldn't move, either up or down, so sat down on top of my bonnet with his feet dangling in front.
I drove back onto the road, with the bandit car driver still sitting on the front of my bonnet, where the 'W' of the Wolseley radiator cap had pierced the seat of his trousers, and he was effectively trapped and couldn't move. All the other police cars involved in the chase, all with steam coming from their radiators had come to a stop in Goodwin Street, as I drove amongst them, all the crews looking in amazement at my prisoner perched on the bonnet of my car. The driver whom I knew well, of 5R for Romeo, a Greenwich based car, called out, "How idle can you get. He doesn't even get out of the car to arrest them now".
That was unusual but effective, and I always said that Lucy the car had made the arrest.