Former Derby Borough police officer John Louch, of Mackworth, recalls more anecdotes from when he was a young constable working in Derby during the 1960s.
A POLICEMAN, particularly one who is young in service, always relishes arresting a person committing a criminal offence, such as theft, burglary or robbery.
And it is especially pleasing to catch that person in the act of committing such a crime.
If inquiries had to be made into such a crime then, in Derby Borough Police, this was the job of the CID officers who, in those days, liked to keep things quite close to their chests.
Therefore, for a young officer in uniform, to solve a crime meant that he had to come to the notice of the CID.
Catching someone in the act, however, did not occur very often.
Therefore, it was quite a bit of luck, one Friday night in the early 1960s, when I was on my Velocette motorcycle patrolling in the Slack Lane area of Derby.
It would have been about 11.30pm and I was stationary, sitting in the shadows somewhere near to Hawke Street.
I remember that it was very quiet.
I was looking down Slack Lane towards Uttoxeter Old Road when I saw a small figure approach and enter a telephone box, which was halfway down Slack Lane.
The figure had come from the direction of one of the side streets opposite the phone box.
I thought nothing of it at first. I then heard a loud banging coming from the telephone box.
I kicked my motorcycle into life and slowly rode up towards the phone box.
Being a Velocette, the engine did not make too much noise as I approached.
I parked it up and peered in through the glass windows of the box to see a small woman who, armed with a hammer and chisel, was knocking seven bells out of the cash box underneath the phone.
When I opened the door, she had just managed to get the cash box open and was pouring the money into a brown paper bag.
I got into the telephone box and said: “What do you think you are doing?”
“I’m short of money,” came the reply. I gave her the usual caution and told her that she was being arrested.
I then contacted the communications room back at the station from the telephone box and asked for transport to be sent. As a result, the nearest police car came to the scene and the woman was transported back to the station.
Once back at the station, I interviewed the woman and then charged her with the theft of money from the telephone box.
She was then bailed to appear at court at a later date. She would have been about 30 years old.
I thought this would be the end of it. How wrong I was.
About three weeks later, I was again on nights and on the same beat.
I rode down Slack Lane at about 11.30pm and, when I passed the telephone box, I looked in to see, lo and behold, the woman was again hacking away at the cash box under the telephone.
I said: “Well hello, we must stop meeting like this.”
I again cautioned her, arrested her and escorted her back to the police station, where she was again charged with the same offence as before and bailed.
But this still was not the end of it. I arrested her a further three times for the same offence, always at the Slack Lane telephone box.
I did feel a bit sorry for her. She was the mother of several children and she obviously needed the money for food, heat and lighting.
Her husband, if that was what he was, kept her short of money and did not care much for the welfare of his own family.
She could have gone to prison but the magistrates, although setting some sort of punishment, referred her to the probation and social services, who apparently sorted her out because, even though I looked, I never saw her at the Slack Lane telephone box again.