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Police driving as it used to be

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Image a time when new Bobbies were only given a ten-minute check drive around the block before being let loose on the public – blue lights flashing, sirens roaring, chasing vehicles – whatever they felt safe enough to do. Image this occurring now.

It’s winter 1992, early hours of the morning, and the coldest and iciest night imaginable. Our two heroes – we’re call them Pete and Dud – respond to a report of a stolen car being chased down the main drag from the neighbouring town. Cars were always being nicked then, there seemed to be multiple chases every night, mostly taken on with enthusiasm by untrained Bobbies revving the lives out of their 1400cc Escorts and following each other in convoy like some scaled down version of those final scenes in The Blue Brothers. I’m not sure that TPAC had even been invented …

Hearing that the bandit vehicle was approaching the main roundabout coming into their area Pete roars up to the junction the other way … perhaps a little bit too quick. Braking for the roundabout the car goes into a skid (the car goes into a skid – yes, you see, it was clearly the car’s fault). Eyes staring wide and bum-cheeks clenched they bounce over the kerb, smash straight through some chevon signs – handily placed to advise motorists that they need to slow down for the roundabout – fly up a grassy mound and come to a halt in a flower display next to a sign welcoming visitors to the town. Once the screaming had stopped, and to this day there’s still some debate as to who was doing this screaming, Pete gamely tried to restart the engine and stick the car into gear – force the car onwards … they could see blue lights coming up the hill … the chase was still on! The poor little Escort, however, wasn’t keen – which was probably something to do with its front end being smashed in, it’s engine being wrecked, all four tyres being inexplicably burst and a chevron sign being wedged around the chassis like a rather ineffective plough. Distraught, our hapless heroes watched on as the bandit car, a beaten-up old Orion hardly worth the cost of the petrol being burnt in chasing it, negotiated the roundabout with some proficiency whilst casting a disdainful glance at that strange looking police car sat above it diagonally in a flower bed. It was being chased by the neighbouring area’s traffic car followed in turn by the area Inspector. Shortly afterwards the Orion performed that classic chased-vehicle manoeuvre of braking suddenly hoping to cause the area car to crash into its rear and inadvertently disable itself. Fortunately, the area traffic driver was used to such tricks and so braked in time to avoid a collision. Unfortunately, the area Inspector wasn’t and so crashed straight into the back of the area traffic car, disabling both vehicles in the process. The Orion continued on and was never seen again …

And what was Pete’s punishment for his over-enthusiasm in wrecking the patrol car and disfiguring that roundabout? Well, the awarding of a three week Standard Driving Course of course, which the Traffic Sergeant who arrived at the scene to survey the carnage thought might address his inexperience in driving.

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