Thursday, 25 June 2015

Spike Island

A book that I have possessed for a long time is "Spike Island" written by James McClure, detailing the day to day activities of Police in "A" Division in Liverpool.  Published in 1980, before the Toxteth riots, it does not contain none stop serious crime, or as it could be cynically put, a "Bang bang you`re dead, tyre squealer" it relates the low level crime, up to very serious incidents.  The young hoodlums or "scallies" were referred to as "bucks."  Typical incidents such as fighting when it is kicking out time at the pubs.  Trying to sort out trouble inside pubs and clubs, and knowing where the real trouble could lie.  They are used to the mouthy ones attempting to throw their weight about, but were exceedingly wary of the tough looking onlookers who were totally relaxed but obviously not missing a beat.  Incidents included putting weights on the accelerators of stolen cars and then aiming them at buildings or shops.  Officers expressed their disbelief at magistrates letting off car thieves as young as ten, because children of that age could not possibly drive a car!  One case had a young kid steering the car, whilst his mate was on the floor operating the pedals when his mate told him when he wanted to change gear!!

    This district had a small red light area had a steady stream of clients.  None of the working girls there fitted the television and film version of good looking women.  The men spotted cruising checking on the girls available, were usually men taking a lunch break from the office.  One prostitute, known as "Fat Agnes" was copped(!) at it with a young Jewish lad.  A beat officer actually walked up to them whilst they were engaged in a knee trembler.  He tapped the lad on the shoulder, startling him.  He quickly said that they were just talking, but the cop opened his coat and saw he was still stood to attention.  The magistrates actually jailed Agnes for a month, so she must have had numerous convictions.  The desk sergeant explained to the lad how to get out of a very troublesome situation in regards to his job, when he appeared in court.  The lad followed his advice, received a fine and his employers none the wiser.  

    The CID are engaged in crimes of varying seriousness, burglaries, car thefts, porn, vice, but  one made a surely incorrect observation.  He said that protection rackets did not exist in Liverpool; a notion shot down in interviews both on tv and radio.  An on call doctor described how he was asked to examine a man arrested for murder, and admitted being completely terrified of the man.  He "examined" his mental state without going too close to him in case he tried to attack him with whatever he could get hold of.  He said that he was in no doubt this man was a psychopath, despite his calm nature.  The area characters are featured such as the man who came screaming into the station that "George was after him!"  After a couple of minutes of deranged rantings, he suddenly straightened himself up, apologised for his behaviour and started to leave.  The desk man asked him why he behaved the way he did.  The reply was that it was expected of him, so he did not disappoint others` conception of him.  In many trades, you meet all kinds.....