Peter Spencer joined the Wiltshire Police Force in September 1968 had 13 weeks basic training in Dorset then was posted to Devizes Police Station, which was attached to the Assize Court.
Drunken husband and wife
One occasion when I reported to night duty, and we always reported 15 minutes before what was called ‘Parading’, although if just one of you, it wasn’t really a parade. Start on duty and Traffic had arrested a drunken husband and wife and they’d been put in the cells we had at Devizes. Now normally if prisoners were held overnight accommodation, they would be taken to Chippenham, but for some reason they couldn’t be taken there so it was decided that they would be held at Chippenham, sorry Devizes. The poor Sergeant who was on till midnight was told he would have to remain on duty for another 8 hours to supervise, I would be in charge looking after the male prisoner, and then we had to call out what was then called a WPC, woman police constable. The girls didn’t work later than 10pm and they didn’t work nights, and of course they were paid far less than their male colleagues, and that has been since rectified and now everybody is paid the same. Eventually one of the more senior police ladies turned up and she went to deal with the female prisoner and of course prisoners are not allowed to have anything that might cause harm, not allowed to have shoes. She says ‘give me your shoes’, the next thing she threw the shoe at her, then the next thing the prisoner is lying flat on the bunk, and that was the sort of thing we had, but I always felt sorry for the poor Sergeant.
Recorded with Linda Redden, Bath Spa University.