By Len A.Hynds

Police discipline was extremely fierce in the 1950s, when I was a uniform PC at Carter Street Police Station in South London. Some Sergeants could be difficult, but even they were under the strict discipline code that was religiously adhered to by our inspectors. Most of these Inspectors were elderly men, who had stayed on for the war years, but by the fifties many young men were getting fast promotion in order to release those who had stayed on.

We had such a young man posted to our station, and he became our own inspector, and I soon detected that he was different to the rest, and he appeared to miss his first few years in the force as a PC and then a Sergeant. He missed the comradeship of being 'one of the boys.' He must have felt terribly lonely, as I noticed that the older inspectors kept their distance, as this 'young newcomer' had had been promoted so quickly, in contrast to the many years they had spent climbing the ladder.

I noticed one night duty seeing the inspector’s car in an alleyway with no lights on, and peering around the corner, saw him with his arms around a young lady who was sitting in the front seat beside him. I backed away, without being seen, but not before I had recognised her as a pretty young barmaid in a local pub, but from memory somebody had told me that her family had moved to the White City area of Shepherds Bush sometime before.

It transpired that they had become friends, and she insisted upon continuing her work at the pub, so that they could meet when the pub closed very late at night. What I didn't realise was that he was conveying her all the way to her home each night right to the other side of London. He was committing several quite serious disciplinary offences, and if caught could lead to his immediate dismissal.

On this particular night, I was the van driver, when our elderly station sergeant came to me to say that the inspector wanted to speak to me on the telephone. The young man told me that he was in serious trouble he said that he had wrongly given a lift to somebody (?) all the way to Shepherds Bush, and had been involved in an accident. The engine was smashed in, but the car could still apparently be driven on a tow. Getting the location, I told him to sit tight, as it was in a back street, and to keep himself out of sight. If a patrolling PC found his car, that would put a different complexion on things, and I would have to rethink the whole thing, but he must remain hidden.

The elderly sergeant was easily placated by saying that the inspector wanted me to go out on patrol with the van, whilst all the lads were in for their refreshment.

I found the Inspector hiding behind a wall, and we soon had the car on tow, with me cheerily waving to PCs on patrol right across London and on getting onto our own sub-division, we pushed the car up onto a bollard which fitted the smash perfectly, and I drove away, leaving him safe and sound, after briefing him as to what to say. Carton picture of two cars crashed

I was booking in when the sergeant said, "The Inspectors phoned in Len. Somebody drove out of a side turning, making him swerve. He's mounted the pavement and crashed into a bollard. Take a PC to report the accident and see if it's towable back here." That young Inspector seemed to grow up overnight with that scare, and later admitted to me that the young lady had suddenly seized him in a passionate good-night kiss, and he had lost control.

(In more ways than one!)