Me and Big Pete were in charge of Littleville last night, a smaller market town about 6 miles from Bigtown itself. It’s a bit more of a quaint place where very little really happens. Well not in the big scheme of things anyway. Littleville has a far more affluent population that Bigtown – a sort of arrangement that is repeated up and down the country – where the people who can, like to live just that bit out of the way, but close enough to all the amenities of a large town.
A major thing about small market towns like Littleville is that everybody knows everybody’s business, and nobody minds this. On most of the estates in Bigtown, if you glance through your next door neighbours windows as you walk past, they will be out waving an iron bar at you, threatening to tear you apart limb from limb, within micro-seconds. This of course assumes you walk form your house to the off licence at the end of the road, and don’t order a taxi there and back like most of the non-employed can afford to do.
In Littleville, they wave, and invite you in for tea and cake.
The other thing about places like Littleville is that anything out of the ordinary stands out a mile …. instantly. And that’s how it was, less than an hour into our night shift, as we drive around one of the quiet, manicured lawn infested side roads. Specifically it was a shabby old blue Vauxhall Corsa with two baseball cap and hoodie wearing youths in it. There couldn’t have been a car that was more out of place amongst the BMW’s, Audi’s and 4×4’s of Posh House Lane if it tried.
I remember when I first joined the police. It was drummed into us about the evils of stereotyping; how we mustn’t jump to conclusions based on our own negative imagery or perceptions. How if we did, we’d be in front of the Superintendent and out of a job with a boot in the backside in five seconds flat. And then we were taken on a day visit to Bigtown Police Station where, in a few weeks time, we would have been based and our new lives would begin.
We were taken into the CID office, and gazed in awe at all these real bigger than life detectives, the sort of copper we should inspire to be. They weren’t running round like headless chickens, constantly answering radio and committing the ultimate sin of having to wear a uniform. Ohh no, they wore suits; well some of them did – mainly they wore jeans and T-Shirts, and looked a right scruffy bunch, and sat around playing some sort of Football Manager game on the internet on their computers.
The DI invited us into his office, and explained how CID did the ‘real police work’. It was all about intelligence you see, and always being aware and keeping a watchful eye.Uniform was okay, but we wouldn’t want to stay there long; we’d get bored apparently. Then he said something which stuck in my mind to this day. “If you’re out at night, or even in the day, and you see a scruffy old Corsa with a couple of lads in hoodies or caps where they don’t belong, they’re up to no good – turn them over”. The archetypal stereotype if ever I heard it – but there they were, right in front of us, right smack bang down to the scruffy old Corsa.
Big Pete was out of the panda before I’d even stopped, and went straight over to introduce himself to our new found acquaintances. The two lads had clearly been so engrossed in something or other they hadn’t even noticed our arrival, which took them pleasantly by surprise. The first excuse that they had “got lost on their way home” didn’t really cut it with us. I’m not sure what the real giveaway was, but the FOUR sat-navs currently sitting in the rear footwell suggested to me they probably had a good means of working out the way to go. Maybe they needed four in case one broke, then they had a spare in case the spare broke ????
It was even less of a surprise to us in our stereotypically deranged minds, to find out that the car these two oiks were sat in was registered to neither of them. In fact it was registered to nobody. And there was no insurance …. or MOT …. or tax.
And we were even less surprised to find the gloves, and screwdrivers, and designer sunglasses, and wallets full of money and credit cards in decent, respectable peoples names, scattered all around the car and their persons.
But they were surprised, much, much more than us, when we invited them to try on our special, heavyweight steel bracelets and gave them a free ride in our shiny police car, all the way to the cell-block at Bigtown nick.
Relaying the circs to the Custody Desk Sergeant, he simply smiled, turned to our prize catches and said “two lads in hoodies, this time of night, in a dodgy old Corsa, in Littleville, you were asking to get caught”. “Sarge” I said “that’s stereotyping”. “No Chaos” he replied “that’s proper coppering”.