How policing in 1980s used primitive CCTV methods

Geoff Tagg.
Geoff Tagg.

A top cop who hung up his uniform for the last time after a 30 -year-career has recalled how officers would stand on roofs to survey the city 
instead of CCTV cameras.

Inspector Geoff Tagg joined the police in Morecambe at the age of 21 in 1986.

He said: “It’s the only job I ever applied for and wanted. My dad was also a policeman a detective.

“I lived in Morecambe above the police station, which used to be a male hostel. There was a canteen downstairs and we had our own cleaners, who mothered us. There was no technology then, everything was handwritten. There was no CCTV, we were the CCTV, we would climb on the roof of M&S and buildings on King Street to survey the streets, Lancaster was really violent then, Morecambe was the place to go out. At the time there was a terrible spate of shop windows being smashed and there was a lot of fighting and rivalry between estates such as Ryelands, the Marsh and the Ridge.

“I would walk foot patrol in Lancaster town centre and if a job came in through on the two way radio we would sprint through town to it.

“We weren’t allowed to drive for two years we had to walk foot patrol.

“I spent two years as a probationary officer and then I worked as a response officer where you go after specific offenders.

“I got promoted and went to Blackpool which was a different world again.

“It was still a really busy town and I was dealing with jobs until 4.30am.

“I came back here as a sergeant in 1995 and that is when Morecambe had just started to go downhill.

“I was on the support unit that dealt with murder scenes.

“We dealt with murder scenes all the time and you have to become desensitised to it.

“When I first joined the teams were huge, now the team for Lancaster and Morecambe combined is the same as we had at Lancaster.

“Now the support unit teams are having to be cut to go onto response and to me it won’t work. All the young officers now have Samsung phones whilst on duty.

“All the public services need to interact and work together so we don’t overwhelm each other.

“I will miss the people in the job but not the bureaucracy.”