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What a relief it is to get one's concience clear. The say that confession is good for the soul! I noticed that one of my old collegues Les Smith made a passing reference to the fact that I was notorious for 'blowing up' motor bike engines! That was only part of it. In the old Leicester City Police force, you know, the one we had before amalgamation and the County came in a kernackered it all up in '67 ran a traffic department known as 'D' Division. I had always fancied riding police bikes and after eight years of pounding the beat and working night shifts I put my application in. I was accepted and a few months later was sent the Preston, up there, where they had a driving school. The course was a long one but give 'em their due they taught me how to ride a bike without killing myself and I passed with flying colours. I'll always remember Mick King, the constable instructor. Mad as a hatter and rumoured to be full of Titanium plates instead of bone from all the spills he had partaken in. Anyway I returned to Leicester as the 'thirteenth' man of the contingent of twelve Norton Commando motor cycles. The spare man it was called. You didn't have a bike of your own but rode someone else's when that chap was day off. The Norton Commando was a lovely bike. 750cc with a livery of shiney blue and crome. It's only fault was the mono carburetter that was fitted to the twin cylinder engine. The bike went like shit up to about 75mph before it ran out of petrol and puthered down until it scavanged enough back to return to accelerate yet again. This resulted in a series of stop start acceleration until the destination was reached. One particular day the bike I chose to ride was allocated to Neil Mann who was one of the more experienced bikers in the department. He didn't like anyone else riding his machine and made the fact quite clear. I had no option. Other bikes were in for service etc. Off I went on patrol. Had a good day patrolling the West side of the city on collared a couple of speeders which were duly reported. I was enjoying myself as I came along the Hinckley Road back toward the City I carefully negotiated the slower moving cars and lorries which had the temerity to travel at a slower speed than myself passing them in the centre of the road. Just as a approached a junction of a road on my offside one of the cars abruptly turned without any signal and the inevitable collision occurred. A horrible sound of metal on metal issued forth and my nearside tin legshield crumpled up as the offside door of the car crumpled in the impact. We both stopped! The car driver looked at me from out of the open driver's door. He was frightened to death....well it wasn't the thing to do to hit a police bike! I immediately thought of my own circumstances which would involve a tedious visit by the traffic sergeant to attend and sort things out with all the paraphanlia that involved. I looked at my damage. He looked at his. I said, "Any damage?" He said "No!" I said, "Me neither!" We both went our seperate ways. Now I knew from careful enquiries that if damage was caused to HM Constabulary machines there were two ways of putting things right. The right way and the wrong way! I had chosen the wrong way. I returned to the station at meal break and put my bike into the garage behind closed doors and using some spanners that were knocking about removed the squashed up leg shield from the bike. I then tried to imitate a panel beater using one of those little hammers with the little nob on the end. I spent a lot of time on that repair and was quite pleased with the results. Again I knew where the paint was. In a tin tucked away in the bike garage for use by those, like me, who preffered doing it the wrong way! I must admit as I applied the finishing touches that the job was well done. I got back on my bike and resumed patrol. At the end of the day I returned the bike to its usual spot in the garage and went home. The next day I started early morning. On my arrival my collegues made it plain to me that Neil Mann was anxious to speak with me. I spent most of the day avoiding him but inevitably our paths eventually crossed. He was boiling mad! Not only had I rode his beloved machine I had also pranged it. I did explain to him was efforts I had gone through to rectify the matter but he wouldn't listen. They say that time is a great healer but Neil Mann never forgave me until the day he died......

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