Following her ordeal, WPC Cox managed to retain her composure till she dashed into the ladies toilet. Then she collapsed on to a toilet seat, holding her uniform in a bundle in front of her. She was still naked apart from her shoes and stockings. She held her face in her hands, sobbing loudly. She looked at her ink covered breasts and got up to examine her stamped bust and buttocks in the mirror. At that moment, WPC Gail Holmes came in.
“Don’t cry, Ali,” she said, hugging her shoulders to comfort her. “Don’t cry. It’s okay. Did they do your boobs as well? They only did my bum when they did me. It’s okay. It’s all over now. Don’t let them upset you.”
Alison was inconsolable, and burst into floods of tears. “But they made me strip, Gail,” she said. “I felt like a stripper or a call girl. It was so humiliating.”
“Don’t upset yourself, Ali. There’s nothing you could do about it. You know Sarah Glynn, on 1 Section? She struggled and tried to get away when they did her. But they just handcuffed her hands behind her back and did it anyway. They’re just like kids really. Big kids. I hated it when they did it to me. But once you’ve let them do it, they accept you and treat you as one of them. They’ll help you and look after you. We’ll always be Woopsies and Plonks, but we’re THEIR Woopsies and THEIR Plonks now. That’s the difference. They’ll take care of you. Now let’s get you dressed.”
Gail helped Alison get dressed, and her tears gradually subsided. She wiped her face with a tissue from her handbag, and hugged her again. “Try to act like nothing’s happened,” she said. ” They’ll respect you more. It’ll all be forgotten in a few days’ time.”
WPC Holmes was right. The male PCs were still patronising towards her, but now showed concern for her welfare. Andrew Dawson, one of the younger PCs, volunteered to make the tea on the early shift to give her a break. Alison ingratiated herself with the PCs by making them bacon sandwiches when they started work at 6 a.m. as the canteen didn’t open till nine. She had difficulty with her paperwork, and they would help her with reports. Don Marsh was a good mechanic and fixed her car when it wouldn’t start. Paul O’Neill told her about a furnished flat above his brother’s fruit and veg shop that was up for rent cheap, and the section helped her move in. They let her work in the front office on night duty when the weather was bad. She got to know and like all of them, despite the snooker table episode, which had been forgiven if not forgotten. She began to feel more like one of the section.
Alison was walking the beat in Cambridge city centre one night when she had a violent encounter with some drunken youths. One of them punched her in the face and left her dazed on the ground. The rest of the Section was at the scene in less than a minute. They dealt out some instant justice to the drunk, who was taken down an alley and given the mother and father of all beatings. He never was charged with anything, they just threw him in the back of the van and dumped him outside Casualty at the local hospital with a broken jaw. Word got around that you just didn’t hit policewomen.
Alison was taken home and Don Marsh drove her car to her flat. They all called round to check on her the following day. It was like having several big brothers in a way.
Despite this positive side, the male PCs on the section were known as inveterate piss takers and had a reputation for constantly playing practical jokes, some of which were quite elaborate. Alison was a bit naïve and fell for it every time when they targeted her. They called her up on the radio, depressing the transmit button to cause the message to break up, and repeating the words “six inches.” Alison replied back, “I’m only getting six inches,” to hysterical laughter from the rest of the section. Another time she was sent to an address and told to try to locate a mythical “Mike Hunt.”
When the film E.T./ Extra Terrestrial came out, the PCs began calling her E.T. or Echo Tango in the phonetic alphabet, supposedly referring to her enormous tits. Alison had difficulty keeping a straight face if she was dealing with a member of the public when it happened.
PS Jim Rose considered himself as God’s gift to women, and seemed to get worse. Sometimes he would pick Alison up in the patrol car and try it on. He would ask her if she was on the pill, or if she was wearing stockings and suspenders, and try to put his hand up her skirt. Or else he would try to kiss her and fondle her breasts. Alison found it a bit creepy, as he was older than her father. But she learnt to fend him off, and put him off by inventing an imaginary boyfriend she was getting engaged to. PS Rose accepted rejection with a fairly good grace, almost as if he was just trying to maintain his reputation as a ladies’ man. And he had already seen her naked and groped her bum and bust anyway, she thought.
In one of many elaborate practical jokes, Alison was sent to check an old derelict hospital building in the early hours of the morning. Supposedly there had been reports of squatters moving in. She walked unsuspectingly along the corridor of the deserted ground floor, picking her way through assorted debris on the ground with her torch. A huge figure in a white sheet wearing a grotesque Dracula mask suddenly leapt out at her from an open doorway without warning, shrieking and groaning, and grabbed hold of her, pinning her arms to her sides. Alison froze and screamed in terror. She nearly had a heart attack. The figure tried to wrestle her to the ground, when the rest of the section appeared with flashlights and collapsed in a fit of laughter. Paul O’Neill had called at the fancy dress shop earlier. “You bastards!” she screamed indignantly, then saw the funny side of things and joined in the general laughter. “I’m going to get you one day,” she threatened.
On another occasion, they produced an official looking document bearing the Force’s emblem. It read, “The task of the modern police officer is a varied and demanding one. In the opinion of the Chief Constable, the current one mile run component of the standard fitness test in sports kit is inadequate and unrealistic. Henceforth all probationer constables will be required to complete the one mile run in the allotted time on divisions in full uniform.” It went on to detail how local sports facilities should be used for the test, and so on.
“This is a bit of a nuisance, Alison,” said PS Dave Cowan. “We’ll try to get it done on early turn. We’ll use the running track at the sports ground. If you put a reasonable effort into it, you should be able to do it well within the allotted time.” Alison nodded, a little apprehensively.
When early turn came round, the section drove round to the sports ground at 6.30 a.m. in the van. “I want you all to give WPC Cox plenty of encouragement. She has to do the mile run in full uniform. It’s important that she completes the run within the allotted time. Are you ready, Alison?” he asked.
Alison nodded nervously, dressed in full uniform, including her hat and gloves, and carrying her handbag. “I’ll do my best, Sarge,” she said. “But it’s not easy running in a skirt. Do I have to do it carrying my handbag?”
“I’m not sure,” said PS Cowan. “It doesn’t really say in the instructions. It just says full uniform. I suppose that includes your handbag.”
“You can do it, Alison,” said Paul O’ Neill. “Yes, you can do it,” all the others chimed in. They piled out of the van, and PS Cowan produced a stop watch and a whistle. Alison walked gingerly over to the start line, accompanied by ten male officers who were trying to keep a straight face.
“This is the start line then,” said PS Cowan. “The standard mile is four circuits of the track. If you get down on your marks, when I blow the whistle you can set off and I’ll time you.”
Alison crouched down at the line, still dressed in her tight skirt and tunic, blouse and tie, shoes and stockings, her hat on her head, clutching her handbag. “Wait a minute, Sarge,” said Don Marsh “When they say full uniform, it doesn’t mean her hat, does it? It’ll fall off when she starts running.”
“I don’t know, Don,” said Dave Cowan. “It just says full uniform. It’s supposed to be a realistic test. What do you think, Alison? Have you heard anything? I want to get it right, otherwise you might have to do it again.”
“I’ll do it in my hat and handbag and everything if you think I should,” Alison said nervously. “It says full uniform.”
A lengthy discussion ensued between the ten men about WPC Cox’s running attire. Dave Cowan pondered the question thoughtfully. “I’ll tell you what, Alison,” he said. “You’d better take off your hat. Like Don says, it’ll fall off when you start running. And leave your handbag and gloves here as well. And take off your tie and tunic and unfasten your top button. So just do it in your skirt, blouse and shoes. But if anyone asks, remember to tell them you did it in full uniform, tunic, tie, hat and handbag and everything. We’ll back you up.”
“I will, Sarge,” Alison said, beaming with relief. “Thanks ever so much. That’ll make it a lot easier.” She crouched down at the start line in her skirt and blouse and uniform shoes. Dave Cowan blew his whistle, and Alison set off at a brisk jog to pace herself, with the ten male officers shouting encouragement.
To be continued.