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It must have been in the mid seventies when I was the `rural` beat officer responsible for 17 villages to the east of Leicester that I drove my panda car along the A47 about 0130hrs, towards my home station on eager anticipation of finishing my shift at 2am. I saw a stationary car pulled into the side of the A47 and pulled in behind it, as the unlit section of the road it had stopped in indicated that the driver may have had problems I could help with.

As I pulled in behind the car, suddenly both doors opened and two youths raced off from the car - straight through an infestation of stinging nettles - straight over a barbed wire fence, and away across an open field.

I pondered this conduct for at least two seconds, before deciding that all was not well - so I set off in pursuit. I was in `shirt sleeve order` at the time so the stinging nettles did bite me savagely - as did the barbed wire fence.

However, once I reached the open field, watching the two previous occupants of the car scampering off in front of me, I put on a burst of speed and managed to catch the slower miscreant. I shouted `Come 0n I've got your Pal, you are going nowhere` - and the second lad came back to me.

It turned out that both of them had escaped from a local Borstal and had stolen the car before it ran out of petrol.

I was on `Quick change` that nght, so having finished my shift at 2am, I was back on duty at 10am. I reported for duty and was told that my first job was to escort the two lads from the night before to the local Borstall, pending their return to their own premises of detention.

I sat chatting to them in the back of the GP van, and found them to be quite nice lads - so when we reached the local Borstall, we all got out chatting away like old mates. No restraints - no handcuffs- very informal really.

As we got out of the van one of the prison officers in charge of the Borstall approached. Ex-Forces stature - bulled boots, and slashed peak cap. He took one look at me - one look at my `prisoner` and said " Don't you know officer that you must restrain your prisoner when he is in custody`

My `prisoner` said - `There's no chance I'm going to run from him - he's far too fast for me. His mate in the equally loose custody of a colleague nodded his agreement.

Les Smith Leicester Constabulary

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