Why I couldn’t be an interceptor

Police Interceptors ANL-140508-144130001
Police Interceptors ANL-140508-144130001
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On The Beat with Inspector Jim Tyner

There is currently another series of Police Interceptors featuring Lincolnshire Police running on Channel 5.

I must admit I enjoy watching these programmes (although I do get exasperated when the commentator refers to everywhere as Lincoln rather than Lincolnshire).

I’m often asked if Police Interceptors is an accurate portrayal of police work. In a way, it is: it does show the types of incidents and types of people that we deal with.

But of course you must remember that it is edited highlights, so it doesn’t show the hours of paperwork following an arrest, for example.

Many of the officers that feature in the show have been stationed in South Holland over the years, so I always have a sense of pride when I see them on TV.

The interceptors have regular extra driving training to hone their driving skills and this gives them access to high performance vehicles.

Could I be an interceptor? No, I don’t think that’s ever going to happen... and here’s why...

It was 2pm on a Tuesday a long time ago and I was driving a police car with my colleague John as a passenger when there was a report of a white Ford Escort that had just been involved in a bilking at the filling station at Whaplode and was heading towards Spalding. A bilking is when someone fills up a car with petrol and drives off without paying.

I immediately drove to the McDonalds roundabout on the A16. I parked the police car on the concrete traffic island outside McDonalds, facing towards Spalding.

We got out of the police car and could see a line of slow moving cars approaching along the A151 from Weston towards us. We could see that the tenth car was a white Ford Escort.

I stopped the line of cars as they reached the roundabout and John started walking down the middle of the carriageway towards the white Escort.

As he did, the Escort suddenly pulled out of the line of stationary traffic and drove on the wrong side of the carriageway, past John. Seconds later the Escort drove past me, still on the wrong side of the road. In a fraction of a second I noticed that a rear quarterlight window was broken. This is usually a giveaway that the car might be stolen.

I ran back to the police car, jumped in, switched on the ‘blues and twos’ and started to follow. I couldn’t believe it as the white Escort was driven the wrong way around the roundabout and started to head along Holbeach Road into town.

Thankfully there was no oncoming traffic from either Holbeach Road or the A16. As we continued along Holbeach Road, the Escort overtook a line of about five cars with no consideration for oncoming traffic.

At Twin Bridges, the Escort turned right along West Elloe Avenue. On the long straight of West Elloe Avenue our speed built up to between 55 and 60 miles per hour, in a 30 mph limit.

This was a dangerous driver and I was using my police radio to direct other officers to join me and bring this breakneck bandit to a stop as soon as possible.

I’m not sure at what point I noticed that John wasn’t in the police car with me. The awful realisation dawned on me: I had left my colleague on the roadside. Oh no... Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. This was not a good thing. My stomach knotted in anxiety.

Meanwhile I continued to pursue the Ford Escort as it turned left on to Pinchbeck Road.

I knew officers were getting closer to me, but I was still on my own (which was my own fault, as I’d left John behind). However, within seconds it reached a climactic conclusion. At the Kings Road traffic lights the Escort was in the left hand lane as though going straight on at the junction, but suddenly turned right in front of me and I was unable to avoid a collision as the front of my police car impacted with the rear wing of the Escort.

Now, a police collision is never a good thing, so my day was rapidly going from bad to worse.

But there was no time to think of that now. As the Escort ground to a halt, I jumped out of the police car, ran across to the Escort and dragged the stunned but uninjured driver out of the driver’s seat.

He was promptly arrested for the bilking, dangerous driving and on suspicion of the Escort being stolen. As I was slapping the handcuffs on I was finally joined by other officers and the driver was taken off to custody.

Well, by the time I finished the paperwork and had explained to my long-suffering Inspector why I had broken one of our police cars, John had made it back to the station, courtesy of a passing farmer.

By all accounts John was not in a good mood and I was guiltily grateful that by the time I had left the Inspector’s office (feeling like a chastened schoolboy leaving the headmaster’s office)John had gone off duty.

The following day, John was incredibly good natured about me abandoning him in the middle of the road, but it did cost me a lot of cakes for everyone!

I have the utmost respect for the advanced driving skills of our interceptors, but I have to accept that someone who leaves a colleague behind in an adrenaline-fuelled moment of ‘red mist’ would probably leave the cameraman on the side of the road!