Kate Piper

Have you a temper and been in a fight recently?

Kate Piper

In May, 1966, having reached the advanced age of 19 years, I applied to join the East Sussex Police.

I went to East Grinstead Police Station to find out a bit about the life of a Police Officer, what was required in the way of qualifications and really, what it was all about. I then had an interview with WPC Knight in the Policewomen’s accommodation in the flat over the public library in East Grinstead.  Pam Knight gave me a very graphic description of what life was like as a policewoman, on the result of which I went ahead with my application to ‘join up’.

My application was sent to Malling House, Lewes, and eventually I received a summons to Headquarters to sit an entrance examination and then if I passed I would have an interview with the Chief Constable, George Terry. In those days all this happened on the same day. I passed the exam and stood outside the Chief’s office, quaking in my shoes whilst awaiting the interview. My first impressions of the Chief Constable were ‘what a gorgeous man’! He was very dynamic and forthright. After several questions he asked me whether or not I had a temper. Somewhat nonplussed I asked, why the question? He said that he had noticed a red mark by my right eye and wondered if I had been involved in a fight recently! Heaven help me, I didn’t know what to answer, so decided on the truth. The red mark by my right eye was a burst capillary vein which I had been embarrassed about for several years! The Chief Constable apologised most profusely when he realised my embarrassment – we then laughed about it – and he offered me the position of policewoman with the East Sussex Police! I was later to realise that the Chief had remarkable powers of memory and observation – the only thing he could not remember was my surname; but that is another part of the story.

After being successfully accepted into East Sussex Police I again returned to Malling House for a medical examination, to be measured for my uniform, to fill in various forms and then to crown it all to go to the Mayor’s Parlour to be officially sworn in as an East Sussex Police Officer.

Drugs Squad

In 1967 I’d been with the Drug Squad in Hove where we operated completely ‘under cover’. My life was that of a ‘Beatnik’ and as a result I became plagued with ill health making it necessary for me to return to uniform duty.