Peter Smith’s presentation was not the most exciting of topics for a gloomy October morning. Probus Members might have expected to learn something of the litter problems of the City, or maybe the advances in technology that swept cleaner and more efficiently, or maybe indeed the labour and union issues of manning the work force. It was a relief to hear Peter Smith say that this was not the nature of his talk.
Peter was a policeman in the City for the period in question. “Cleansing the streets of its criminality” was a more appropriate title. Peter joined the Police as a cadet, qualifying at a training college before appointment to what he termed was the rough end of Leeds. He pointed out that the beat police were often on their own, working to a massive set of instructions on their limited powers and the huge responsibilities, ill-equipped to deal with aggressive behaviours, but in his career, he only felt the need to draw his wooden truncheon on three occasions. Such was the respect the Police carried at that time. Peter’s career developed in crime investigation and prosecution.
Reviewing his time in the Service, Peter was happily non-PC in his criticisms of modern justice and the overall management of criminality – the long delays in bringing forward, the masses of paperwork required to meet clever lawyers in court, and the changing nature of villains , with new issues of drugs, armed criminals, terrorism, discrimination, and the immense “rewards” of crime.
Peter’s talk was candid and refreshing. He spoke with the authority of street experience and considered judgements that held well with Members in their applause for a most interesting talk.