Exercise Farnham

1960s, early: Tony Kirton: Exercise Farnham: Back in the early sixties I was on area car patrol with Peter Jones in Farnham at about 10.30 pm. We had a call from Control directing us to the Coxbridge roundabout and to check everything coming from the town, as there had been a man disturbed whilst committing a burglary in Lynch Road. A Traffic car was sent to the Shepherd and Flock roundabout with the same information.

John Lowman was the sergeant in charge of the police station at the time and he was in his office with Arthur Cook, the Tongham village PC, who had been 'borrowed' for a week of nights. He also received the call and sent Arthur, on his bike, down to the railway station. He contacted the duty DC in the CID annexe (The Greyhound next door) and the Scenes of Crime Officer and sent them off to the house.

As the officers arrived Superintendent Fred Shoobridge and none other than the chief constable - Herman Rutherford - met them. It was the Chief's idea to test the Force's response to an incident and Mr Shoobridge had persuaded a couple of elderly sisters who lived nearby (he lived in the police house at number 60) to dial 999 and report that they had just come home and saw a man running out of their drive and that some jewellery was missing.

The Chief was very impressed and said he would call in to the Control Room before going home in order to congratulate the staff there and suggested the superintendent should do the same at the police station.

Remember Arthur Cook down at the railway station? Just as he arrived he saw a young man running down from the general direction of Lynch Road.

"Where have you been?"

"I don't know; I only know her name."

"How did you tear your jacket?"

"It must have been when I went over a fence."

"I am arresting you ... "

Arthur took the man into the ticket office just as the last train for Alton was leaving and asked for transport. We got the call from the station officer (Budgie Strudwick?) and picked Arthur and the prisoner up and took them to the police station where John Lowman took them into the sergeants' office.

That is when Mr Shoobridge arrived all full of good cheer - but his manner soon changed when he asked where Sergeant Lowman was and was told he was interviewing a prisoner for the Lynch Road job!

We were given the job of taking the man home. On the way we asked him what had happened. He explained that he worked for a national evening newspaper as a compositor and his times going home varied according to any late stories which might need setting up. On this occasion he was quite early and when he got on the train at Waterloo he found himself with a rather attractive au pair who had been enjoying her day off in London.

He chatted her up and ended up in her bedroom in Farnham. He was just about to leave in order to catch the last train when the family arrived unexpectedly and he had to make his way out of a window and across some gardens in order to get out to the road. He was running for the train when he was arrested.

He had heard what was being said at the police station and rather gleefully suggested we read the paper the next day, as he would get one of the journalists to write up the story to 'expose the stupidity of the Surrey Constabulary'. As you can imagine, the rest of the journey was in stony silence.

Neither of us knew the Alton area and asked him for directions. Eventually we stopped in a road, but nowhere near any houses. We pointed out that we were prepared to take him all the way but he said: " No thanks, I live quite close. My wife always waits up for me and will see us arrive and I don't want to explain why I have been brought home in a police car."

As he got out of the car my parting shot was: "If it appears in the paper your wife will be getting an anonymous call about how you got home and why you have a torn sleeve." It was the first time I had bought an evening paper since I had joined – but, much to our relief, there was nothing in there about us.

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