One of our Members kindly commented that the Tower Blocks at Hendon Police College -
a photo was shown in Part 3 - have been empty for a number of years. With that being the
case, why were they
built in the first place ?
The first home for the Metropolitan Police was Great Scotland Yard. This was on the Embankment
of the River Thames - across the road from the Houses of Parliament. Before Scotland and
England were joined in 1603 , when James the 6th of Scotland also, became King of England
as James 1st. following the death of Queen Elizabeth 1st. - Scotland Yard had been the home and Embassy for the Scottish Ambassador.
The building was rebuilt for the Met. by the famous architect , Norman Shaw , in the later part
of the 19th Century and was re-named New Scotland Yard. This building is still in use - however,
the name moved to the new building in 1966/67.
When the planned move back to the Embankment takes place the name and the famous sign
will be attached.
With the Metropolitan Police first 'Marching Out' in 1829, the whole concept of having a large
disciplined force in place over a big part of Central London caused great concern. Until that
point only some 4000 Parish Constables, Beadles and Night Watch were in charge of over one
million people. There was little communication between them and events in one Parish would
not be known in another.
The French Revolution and the oppressive policing by Napoleon's para-military forces caused
fears in England that our New Police would act for the Government.
This led to a number of crowd attacks on Constables of the 'New Police' - as they had become known. There was also constant bad publicity in the papers and from the pamphlets that used
to be sold on the streets.
(by Bob Marrion-Plan drawer H Div.)
Quickly though, it was seen by the middle classes that this was a civilian orientated Force -
and formed to keep them safe and the English way of life - preserved.
With only a thirteen week course there was an enormous amount of work to get through. The
classes covered many subjects - the most being our knowledge of the Law , how we should
question people , forms and statements etc.. I think the sheer volume of paper work daunted
all of us.
All of the above was then tested on us with staged incidents. Great Fun - if you weren't the
one being tested.
The class would be taken by your Sgt. to an area specially set-up for demonstrations. You might
find two old cars pushed together as an accident scene. A man in civilian clothes (another
instructor dressed-up) lying unconcious on the ground and behind the steering wheel of one of the
cars a man slumped over.
Our instructor might shout out - ' Constable Mitton, you're on duty, walk around a corner and
find this scene - what do you do ?' We all did the same thing - PANIC !
But then training took over - we had been taught PRIORITISE - deal with any violence first - then
assist the injured. Call for help - if required - and find witnesses.
I walked over to the man on the ground - unconcious - and blood on left leg and on ground. You
must remember that this was in the days before cell phones and police radios - which were just
being introduced. Ask one of the crowd - there is always a crowd, even in Instr. classes - to run
to a shop and call Police and Ambulance. Turn him on his side - make sure airways are clear and that he isn't bleeding to death.
Then - to the man behind the wheel - drunk out of his mind and mumbling. Fine - ambulance is
on the way - see if they think he needs hospital - or, if I can take him to Police station. Again,
there was no Breathalyser at this time. I'm checking for witnesses and a distraught woman runs
out of the crowd - 'Thank God I've found you Officer - my sister is having a baby'. PANIC - PANIC !
Where is she - is someone with her - has an ambulance been called ?
While your'e sorting all of this out, there will be other staged incidents - and all the time notes
are being kept on your handling of the situation and points given. Sometimes, I felt it was easier
being a 'vagrant' on the bus.......
There is nothing like this to give you better training and an understanding of your new job - I
clearly remember , we all thought this was just to teach and test us. However, when you go on duty you quickly learn that real life is far more stressful and multiple events regularly happen.
Because you are the man with the 'pointed hat' and the blue uniform you quickly find that most
people standwell back and wait for you to do 'something'.
You have only to see the pictures of the murdered soldier in Woolwich to see how the crowd
formed a circle very well back. However, had a Constable been present, I am sure you would have seen him run forward with only a truncheon to 'do his duty'.
I have gone into some detail with the training - ex-police and soldiers in the Forum, will nod
knowingly - we have all experienced the pressure. Hopefully, others - and our Google readers
will find it of some interest. Once again - please remember that things are different 47 years-on.
TIME OFF FOR GOOD BEHAVIOUR
The routine was varied with some outside trips. For one day the Class was attached to a regular
Police Station and we were individually taken on patrol.
I remember walking around Camden and thinking - 'I hope I don't get posted here " . My early
instincts were to arrest anyone under 20 - but, the Constable walking me round said I needed
a reason - more damn red tape !
The other interesting place we visited was the Met. Police Museum. This was above Bow Street
- the Divisional Station, and had a wonderful collection of early Met. related historical items.
When Bow St. was demolished the Museum was closed and the collection went into storage.
The Museum has now re-opened and I understand has been very well done. Perhaps someone
can tell us if it is open for visits - and if the answer is 'YES' - is there a contact number ?
Recruiting doesn't always get the right people and next time I will tell you of some incidents that
took place during my thirteen weeks.