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    My Early Police Days................. Part 4

    Mervyn Mitton



    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.


    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.


    Recommended Comments

    Another very interesting article in your series, Mervyn.

    In our First Aid training I recall being told that if someone is screaming due to injuries suffered in an accident at least you know right off they are still breathing. The second point was that the dummy they used for the course was there missing his head and we were instructed that this was probably one fellow who no long required any Aid and we should try not to trip over the severed head as it was bad form in front of the crowd that would surely be there watching. Our instructor was a sick sort of so-in-so.

    One point that is very important is that when you send anyone to call for help (911 etc.) either on a land line or cell phone you are always to instruct them to return and report to you. Sometimes the person will leave, not call, and just keep walking away.

    A policeman's lot is, at times, an impossible one.



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    The Towers at Hendon were built to accommodate recruits. There is no longer any recruit training at Hendon thus the Towers are now redundant. Bow Street Police Station and the Court were not demolished, they are now vacant awaiting a final decision on how they are going to be developed into flats and housing. there is some talk of the Met Museum collection being located there in part of the old police station but this is a long running debate which has still to be finalised. The current collection has some exhibits on display at Empress State Building in West Brompton this is only a fraction of what can be shown as the premises is small.

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    Thankyou for taking the time to give us these explanations. I had thought that Bow Street had been re-built after it was closed. Considering that there has been a Police Station on the site since the

    Fielding Brothers had their Court on this site from the 1750's, it would be the ideal place to open

    a dedicated Met. Police Museum. Easy for visitors to reach.

    I hope Members have noted the address you have given for the building in West Brompton. Thankyou.

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    Empress State is not open to the general public. Its hard enough to get in as a serving officer!

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    While working in London we used to get asked to help with the odd police investigation into the sewer system (a few stories there) and was asked if I would like to visit the Black Museum in Scotland Yard. Now, not being that erm.. keen on the old Bill I took a bit of persuading to go. I never realised that only invitees were allowed in. Had some pretty hair raising stuff in there - the museum looked like something out of Victorian times, dark and foreboding. On display were all sorts of weapons that have actually been used on London's streets, Hang Man's nooses with which one hanged which infamous murderer, Jack the Ripper's letter amongst loads and loads of other macabre stuff. Glad I went but not so sure I should've.

    As the Yard is due to close I assume the museum will go with it.

    On the First Aid training did ya'll know that Annie, the doll that all first aid trainees practice CPR on(or whatever it's called these days) is actually a copy of a young girl that drowned in the sea off Norway, or was it Sweden. The distraught father was told that if any of the people who pulled her out of the sea had known how to resuscitate her, she would probably have survived. So the father donated loads of dough to help first aid training by paying for the manufacture of the training dummies, with one proviso, that they all looked like his daughter Annie.

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