Blue police boxes, the sound of police whistles shrieking in the night, Dixon of Dock Green – memories of long gone policing practices were brought to life again in our November talk by Tony and Gillian Parker, both retired senior police officers. These were the days before mobile phones and brightly painted police cars; when the policeman* walked his beat and was part of the community. (*Gillian reminded everyone that recruitment of women to the police was a rare event and until 1973 women were not allowed to work after 10pm!)
Blue Police Boxes or the ‘tardis’
Further reminders of days of yore were that Bobbies on their beat used police boxes to check in every hour to let the sergeant know they were safe and that they not having a quiet drink in the local pub.
Short of running to the nearest “tardis” the only way of calling for backup in an emergency was to blow your police whistle and hope. Personal protection took the form of a helmet (for male officers) and a wooden truncheon now replaced by taser guns, bullet proof vests, and smartphones.
A career that began at the age of 16
Tony joined the police service as a police cadet at the young age of 16 during which he worked at a monastery and attended a post-mortem! With a varied career, in training, press and public relations, pharmacy inspections and narcotics investigation – including working in Chicago, Tony was seconded to and ended his career as Head of Performance Management for National Police Training.
Gillian joined Leicestershire Constabulary in 1980 and specialised in child protection, domestic violence, and youth offending. In 1991 she helped review police arrangements in Jamaica before moving to Suffolk and subsequently to Bedfordshire on promotion to Chief Constable. Gillian was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2003.
Demonstrations of policing methodology
Members were shown how policing methodology has changed dramatically over the years with developments in forensic and behavioural science, DNA testing and offender profiling. Police communications have also benefited from advances in technology providing instant access to a variety of databases.
Lou Fletcher thanked Tony and Gillian for their most interesting and informative talk. In December, the Tavistock Probus Club members will enjoy an excellent Christmas lunch at Tavistock Golf Club.
Tavistock Probus Club is always pleased to welcome new members. If you would like to join us, please have a word with our secretary on 01822 615669.