Traffic /Ops/ CID
At the time I came to Lewes all police women were required to perform all duties regardless of age or experience, but only received 95% of the pay of a male officer. We were entitled to a one hour meal break and only worked complete nights if there was a female in the custody block.
We were expected to take our fair share of patrol duties on the street, traffic patrol duty, station officer duty and anything else when there was no ‘male officer’ to do it!
The latter duty included, of course, cooking prisoners’ meals, clearing up the mess room, filing Routine Orders, Standing Orders etc., etc.
One of the more routine jobs that policewomen were employed to do in Lewes was control of the traffic which was increasing almost month on month, and which really did need controlling. These duties were undertaken at Cliffe Comer, Library Comer, Star Corner or Prison Cross Roads.
When first assigned to traffic control duty I went on patrol with Pete Stoner. He told me to turn off the lights at Library Comer and to get out there and control the traffic! ‘Oh help’, says me, ‘what do I do now?’ Says Pete, ‘Get out there and remember that Headquarters staff have got to get to work on time, but most of all remember that the Chief lives in Lewes and he’s got to get to work as well! Just remember that you don’t fling one up when he is going through, because if you do a lorry driver might misunderstand the signal and could drive straight into the side of the Chiefs car.’ Says me, ‘What’s the Chiefs car like?’ Reply, ‘Red Volvo Estate NPN IF – so don’t forget’ Anyway Pete then taught me the basics of traffic control duty, and left me to get on with it.
Fling up a salute
Many hours were spent doing traffic duty in Lewes and occasionally I saw NPN IF going through. All I could remember were Pete’s words to keep the traffic moving and not to salute whilst doing traffic control. Due to the amount of beat work carried out in main streets of Lewes, I was always aware that I would probably see the ‘Chiefs’ car at some stage and that he would expect me to fling him up a salute.
I dutifully obeyed my orders in that respect and one day when the traffic was light, the Chief s car pulled in by the traffic lights at Library comer and his driver, Bert Collins, alighted. He congratulated me on flinging one up to the car, but said, ‘The Chief has said that he would like to know your surname – he only knows you as Kate. Incidentally you only have to salute when he is actually in the car – and he isn’t in it today!
Looking after your ‘police lady’.
Traffic control in the Cliffe was usually for a minimum of four hours at a stretch, and during some of the winter months it could be a very cold job indeed. The shop girls in the area were very kind to us, and I remember quite frequently being presented with a nice hot cup of coffee on particularly cold days. I remember the girls in Woolworth’s gave me one such cup and it was very well laced with something other than sugar!
Those girls used to look after their ‘police lady’ very well indeed, keeping an eye out whilst I had my liquid refreshment, and should the sergeant appear, sneaking me out of the back way!!
In 1969 I attended a Force driving course and having passed my tests had to drive under supervision for a few weeks until being fully authorised to drive police vehicles. My very first day as an authorised driver I was 2-10pm shift and had a call to attend the Newmarket to assist in the collection of ‘abscondees’ who had legged-it across the fields there. I duly drove down the A27 and prayed that by the time I arrived all would have disappeared. No such luck as on my arrival there was absolute mayhem behind the Newmarket, with Derek Thornton shouting, ‘get your rear over here – we’ve got prisoners to get back to the nick.’ I carried out my ‘escort’ and got everyone back to Lewes all in one piece. It cost Derek a full glass of something or other when we finally came off duty.