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Back in the mid seventies I seemed to go through a phase of catching people who had escaped from custody.

This story involves me as a rural panda driver responsible for the safety of the inhabitants of 17 villages to the East of Leicester.

On this particular occasion I was driving along Gartree Rd. in the early hours of the morning - being a Roman road it was pretty straight but had a few bends as I approached Great Stretton, heading towards Leicester. As I drove along, a car approached me on the wrong side of the road and narrowly missed colliding with me head on. I immediatly swerved round to follow it and find out why it was being driven so recklessly. As I followed it - driving at quite a reasonable speed, I saw two faces looking out of the rear window at me - and the car immediately accelerated. Now I knew that there was a cross roads ahead. To the left was Kings Norton and to the right was Great Glen. Straight ahead was the Roman road - Gartree. Unfortunately the Romans hadn't thought to tarmac their road, so Gartree Rd became mud road. It would be tarmaced a couple of miles further on - but not here!

Well the pursued car didn't turn left, or right - it ploughed straight on onto the dried mud of Gartree Rd - and I followed.

The `road` became narrower and narrower until it descended into a gulley with a small stream running across the road - a very muddy stream, which I was aware of from previous experiences. I sent out a 10/9 call - `Police officer requires urgent assistance` - which frankly I did.

The car I weas following managed to get just past the stream, but then stopped in the mud and its occupants bailed out and headed out over the fields towards Great Glen.

Shortly afterwards a response car - which I later found had been at Leicester`s Clock Tower - some 10 miles away when I put out my original call- reached me. He headed straight at the vehicle I had been following , and got stuck in the mud.

Fortunately a dog mobile had headed into the direction the miscreants had gone towards and managed to catch both of them - the car was stolen and its occupants had escaped from a local prison.

One of my best contacts on my Rural beat was the owner of the local garage. When he was called out to recover both the stolen car, and the police car that speeded to me rescue he gave me a wink and a thumbs up. My regular cup of tea at his garage was secured.

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