Having read Dr Rachel Joyce's letter in last week's Observer, may I be forgiven for thinking that poor 'Old Bill' can't get anything right when it comes to deploying his resources?

Dr Joyce complains that CPSOs do not appear to be on duty around the clock, (what about policemen?) and then, after what seemed almost like a toilet roll long list of complaints, finally concedes - almost grudgingly, I felt - that Harrow Police do seem to be getting it right. Ijoined the Met Police in 1959, when we still practised an archaic shift system that must have dated back to Victorian times. There were only three eight-hour shifts, starting at 6am, 2pm and 10pm, and manpower resources were divided roughly equally between them.

Where was the sense in having the same number of policemen patrolling between 3am and 6am (when little or nothing happened,) as there were between 10pm and 1am, when all hell broke loose, particularly at weekends?

There were only three vehicles allocated to the uniform branch: the station van, the area car, and a Hillman Minx primarily for the use of the duty inspector, and we blew our whistles if we needed assistance. The most sophisticated form of transport with which a lowly PC could expect to be blessed was a pushbike. In the mid 1960s, the Met was suddenly dragged, screaming, into the middle of the 20th Century with the advent of 'Panda' cars and personal radios. Later, the three main shifts were also divided, half working from 2-10pm, and the other half from 6pm-2am, so there was an overlap to help the night duty which came on at 10pm.

I am sure Dr Joyce knows that the borough commander shoulders the responsibility for manpower deployment, but had she thought that, on the occasions about which she complains, there may have been more pressing demands on his resources elsewhere? I'm sure Dr Joyce wouldn't like us to go back to the old days: much as I enjoyed my 32 years in the 'Job,'I certainly wouldn't.


Forty Avenue Wembley Park