Working on Christmas Eve

Martyn Hillier

I always liked working a late shift on Christmas Eve, or the last working day before Christmas, which is obviously not always the same day, as with this Christmas.

Anyway, the day I have in mind would have been the very late 1980s, maybe early 1990s.

I was on a 6-2 evening shift and  having been hectic by 0130hrs all now appeared tranquil, so I was looking to finish on time and I was riding along Christchurch Road to Cheltenham Central police station.

As I approached the Queens Road lights I could see that both they and  the A40 Lansdown Road lights were on “red” so I was trickling along at a walking pace, hoping to manage it without having to put a foot down.

(“Quiet efficiency is the hallmark of the expert rider” is the phrase from the Blue Book that springs to mind ) 

Anyway, as I crossed over Queens Road and on the approach to the A40 Lansdown Road, I heard raucous laughter, as two young men walked across in front of of me, from my left to right, i.e. walking out of town.

They were walking a few feet apart from each other, because they are at each end of a park bench…………

A quick blip of the siren brings them back to reality……

Drink had clearly been taken, a lot of it in fact, but they both sobered up very quickly. I explained that  all three of us had decisions to make.

My decision was whether or not to arrest them, which would mean them spending a number of hours in the cells “over there” pointing at Talbot House,

Talbot House (Cheltenham Divisional Headquarters) at the time of building of new block. (Gloucestershire Police Archives URN 1092 (4))



They could take the bench back from whence it came. They quickly agreed with me that the latter would indeed be a good idea.

So off they went, back to the Lansdown Crescent play area, although I began to think I had made a rod for my own back.


The joke was now wearing thin for them, they were now getting rather tired and they must have been wishing they hadn’t started it and  their progress was painfully slow.


Eventually, after what seemed like hours, the bench was reinstated to pride of place in the park, we all shook hands, wished each other “Merry Christmas” and  they trudged off back towards the Lansdown Road, even more tired, but hopefully wiser. I finished pretty much on time and thought no more about it.

Quite a few years later someone – no name, no pack-drill – related the above story to me and asked if I was the officer concerned ?

I immediately remembered the incident, so I entered a Guilty plea.

This chap was able to explain that the two young men had just completed their first term at university and being arrested would have greatly complicated, even totally ended, their chosen career paths and they were grateful that their acceptance of my suggested course of action had resulted in no further action. They had since successfully graduated and were into their chosen careers, as pillars of the community.

I did point out that I too was grateful, as I hadn’t had to spend an hour or more on unnecessary paperwork……..!

It just goes to show that even “Black Rats’ can be compassionate creatures at times………

This page was added on 08/01/2024.

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