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Excerpts taken from an interview by Jacky Lawrence with John Firkins 2006. Transcribed by Greville Watson.

A Rushden Policeman.

Photograph of John Firkins in his younger days
A young John Firkins

When I first started here I had to work the three shift system – you know 6 to 2 in the mornings, 2 to 10 in the afternoons and 10 to 6 at night. And it was our boast that 24 hours a day there were at least two policemen in the High Street.            

I had one peculiar . . . Well I had some serious crimes; one of the most peculiar was me phone rang in the middle of the afternoon and the voice says, ‘Can you come up to (I think it was) 24 Midland Road ?’ I said, ‘Well, what for?’ He says, ‘I’ve just murdered me wife!’ So I thought, well either this is a joke or . . . but you can’t afford to treat it as a joke, so I handed over the temporary to the civilian who was there while I went and checked on this and when I got there the man had murdered his wife. He’d actually murdered his wife! He was 92 and she was 88 and he was suffering from incurable cancer and he’d decided that his wife couldn’t survive without him so he strangled her.   

I had one instance where one of our young bobbies was told to go to this post mortem and he was worried to death so my governor at the time (an Inspector) said, ‘John, go with him and look after him ‘cos it’s his first one.’ We went in there and when we got to the hospital, Kettering , and saw the pathologist, Dr. Boss as it was then, I said to this bobby, ‘Now you . . . Will you be alright if we go in there? Say so now and I’ll do the post mortem, or, you know, you can walk away from it.’ He said, ‘No, I’ll be alright.’ So I went in there with him; we stood there and as soon as the pathologist made the first incision in the body this bloke fainted, hit his head on the side of the slab and ended up in the ward upstairs with a fractured skull. I was then stuck with the enquiry which nearly cost me my job.

One night I was out in the High Street before I came into the office and I’d sidled up the back of these shops to have a quiet fag (‘cos we weren’t allowed to smoke in those days) and I’m setting meself down and just about to light a fag and I looked up and there’s a bloke breaking into the back of this shop. Gotcha! Took him in and crikey, my Inspector thought I was the greatest thing since sliced bread and the Detective Sergeant thought it was marvellous because they’d been after this geezer for weeks.
A photograph of John Firkins when he was stationed in Burton Latimer
John Firkins in Burton Latimer


Editor's note: John Firkins joined the Police Force in Birmingham in 1947 after leaving the navy and his first posting was to Kettering . He was stationed in Burton Latimer then moved to Rushden in 1961.         

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