Martin Vincent Szaj shares his memories as a Hertfordshire Police Surveillance Officer.

Transcription by Ms Margaret Ballard

MS: It was hard work, but you do become used to it.
CD: And what were the shifts?
MS: Well, when I joined, you worked seven early turns which was 6am till 2pm. Then 2 days off. Then you had seven nights which was 10pm till 6am and then you had 2 days off, but one of those nights, or one of those days, you slept half a day because you’d come off nights and then you had seven late turns, which were 2pm till 10pm and then it replicates.
CD: Did that change over time?
MS: Yes.

MS: I used to specialise in rural surveillance. Up in Cambridgeshire they were doing, they were pulling ATMs, automatic teller machines out of the walls and they were stealing cars and JCBs. Anyway, they wanted surveillance done on them. I was an expert in rural surveillance and I was seconded onto this team. One night, I was watching the house, lying in the field, looking at this house. Suddenly the car pulled up in front of the house; somebody got out, got out the car, went into the entrance of this sub-station and put package underneath the hedge and he drove off. At the same time, there was a man, the shadow of a man walking up in the middle of the field towards me. So the man from the house across the road that we were watching, he comes out and he comes into the sub-station and bring around this package, he grabbed hold of my arm [laughed] and I sort of couldn’t move, couldn’t do anything; I couldn’t do anything because there was this other man walking up the field, who was obviously an accomplice or something, I don’t know, but, anyway, he took my arm; whether he thought it was a bush or a twig or, I don’t’ know… and he picked up this package which was a drugs package and he got it in his car and he’s going off down the road and, in the meantime, we sort of radio to the team that he was down the road and they stopped and arrested him with loads of drugs on board…

This page was added on 31/07/2015.

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  • Hi
    I came about this page by chance as my father, up until two years ago studied genealogy, History and the Shropshire towns and villages. I saw amazing pictures here of some of the policing in the areas, how things have changed over time. It’s great to hear people like Martin can share amazing stories about his life as an active officer then. I love stories like this, novels, I expect every officer has stories to tell, its always interesting to know what happened to these people. My father sadly passed away two yes ago but I have managed to keep some of his old paperwork. There is something quite nice about staring at old pictures and looking back in time as well as forward.
    Carry on Martin, your doing a great job.

    By Mimi Anderson (28/05/2022)