Several years ago, late one night, I saw a woman crouched by a neighbours car, scratching a rude word down the side with a knife. I called out and she did a runner.
I left a note for my neighbour and this lead to a visit from the police the next day. A couple of weeks later I got a call asking if I could attend a line-up to identify the vandal.
I was kept waiting an age when I got to Bradford’s central police station but the reason became clear when the officer in charge came and apologised for the delay.
The woman in question had been detained in the cells for another offence. It turns out that whilst locked up she had got into a fight with another inmate who had head-butted her and cut her nose. Not only that, but to avoid identification she had shaved off her hair.
This gave the police a problem because, I believe, all the people in the line-up have to have a similar appearance and she wouldn’t stand much of a chance if she was the only person there with a sticking plaster across her nose and a bald head.
The officer in charge explained that the delay had been unfortunate but necessary and that I would understand when I entered the room to see the line-up. He was smiling to the point of laughter as he opened the door and advised me to walk slowly passed the glass, behind which were about 10 women.
To the left of me was a large glass partition and standing about 3 feet apart were a row of women, all of whom had a plaster on their nose and a black woolly hat pulled down on their head to hide their hair. This is one of the most bizarre sights I have ever seen. The great British coppers had sent someone out to buy a box of plasters and dozen woolly hats to maintain a sense of justice.
And, just for the record, I did pick her out and I could have done so even if she wasn’t the only one with 2 black eyes