I joined the North Yorkshire Police in 1975 as a university dropout. Not my chosen vocation but at that point in my life it was either Police with a free house or a teacher with loads of holidays. The house swung it. Did ten weeks at Dishforth and got posted to Tadcaster with shiny new boots and pressed trousers only to spend eight hours on point duty directing abusive Bank Holiday makers through the town covered in traffic grime.
In that period most of my supervisory officers had fallen into the Policing through National Service. The barrack room mentality was still pervasive. My Inspectors first words to me were "I have finished more probationers than any other Inspector in North Yorks." Slightly intimidating to say the least.
Tadcaster was a wonderful town with some real characters. Three breweries, one night club and lots of alkies in self-denial. On any one shift there were only three of us. One in the office on the radio and phone, one on foot patrol round town, and a car driver that had to cover an area that was the size of some other Police forces. Policing was always done by consent. We never had a van full of hairy arsed nutters to come and back us up.
An abusive drunk in the street used to be politely taken home and told to behave. At a tender 20 years old it was sometimes difficult but the community in general appreciated our presence and fairness. Had some awkward moments chucking dray drivers out of pubs after hours that I used to frequent illegally myself.
From memory I can only recall one seriously violent moment in the night club with brewery tourists from Leeds but when I stepped in I had at least half a dozen burly dray men step in behind me.
Fantastic place to learn some common sense and assertiveness.
Finally my Inspector relented on his pre-disposition that all probationers should do their first two years on foot. And I became a panda driver.
Not long before coming out of probation on Christmas Eve a passing motorist stopped to tell me there was a body lying in the road just outside town. I called for Road Traffic assistance and got to the scene within minutes to find an obvously dead pedal cyclist in the centre of the road that had been run over at least twice (skull crush and chest injuries). Further down the road impacted into a tree was a car that had either run over the cyclist or swerved to avoid the body. I protected the scene of the body on the road but couldn't get down to the car. Eventually Traffic Officers arrived. They took over from me and I became the Coroners Officer. I duly accompanied the corpse to the morgue and tagged it. Then I was told the car that I couldn't get to contained my best mate and colleague and his 9 month pregnant wife. She was in a critical condition undergoing surgery at the same hospital. She died in surgery and the baby was lost. I was mortified. As Coroners Officer I have to deal with these circumstances as well. So Christmas Eve I drive back to Nick two hours after shift is due to finish in absolute pieces. Fall apart once I get inside and am promptly told by burly ex-soldier sergeant to not be a baby and I had better pull myself together, because I need to attend the 3 post-mortems in the morning - Christams Day. My wife gave me a proper roasting for being late off shift on Christams Eve so I was a little unsympathetic delivering the most innapropraite death massage that her best mate and newborn baby had both died. I attended the PM's the next day (didn't eat much Christmas Dinner) and helped my mate through the ordeal of the funeral. He left the job straight away.
I transfered from North Yorks. to South Yorks where community policing mattered less.I still served through to 1985 miners strike, being shot at with Hilti bolt guns and missing concrete blocks getting dropped from overpasses and was eventually pensioned out. I loved my job.
The last eight years were spent on Traffic (bikes and cars) dealing with fatalities all too frequently. I was lucky in that I only ever got seriously assaulted once but had to endure the most horrible abuse from miners in Hatfield. TBH I have grown up in pit villages all my life and whilst I never agreed with Arthur Scargill I could never imagine poilicing by consent with a community that so despised the Police and was glad to get out.
Miss the cameraderie terribly and that positive feeling of having made a difference. Can imagine things are different now but still have utmost respect for all the men and women on the streets trying to do their best under difficult circumstances