LONDON: A policewoman watchs as thief is searched for incriminating tools. All his possessions are taken from him. Mediadrumimages/TopFoto/Retronaut

By Alex Jones


STUNNING vintage photos show overstretched London police officers dealing with a raft of crimes, lost children and misdemeanours in the mid-fifties.

The incredible shots depict a flustered policeman attempting to calm down a distraught little boy, a woman who looks a little worse for wear being led to safety by kindly officers, and a thief being bundled into his cell by a stout warden.

LONDON: A concerned constable takes off helmet , dabs child’s eyes, and offers what comfort he can. Mediadrumimages/TopFoto/Retronaut

In 1954, when the photos were taken, London’s Police force was 4,000 constables under strength of its 20,000 target.

The famous bobbies had to cope with a maze of problems including traffic duties, dealing with roaring drunks, lost people including children, attempted suicides, violent robbery and murder.

LONDON: Lost boy forgets tears when given a Policeman’s truncheon and proceeds to ‘take charge’ of the station. Mediadrumimages/TopFoto/Retronaut

Despite the enormous pressures they faced, in 1953 the number of serious crimes reduced by nine per cent.

The London bobby, rushed off his booted feet and complete with helmet, coped remarkably well but senior staff are aware that policing had to become a more enticing prospect if they were to restore the necessary number of staff.

LONDON: When the lost boy’s mother arrives to collect him, he whispers that he’d ‘rather like to stay with the nice constable’ . Mediadrumimages/TopFoto/Retronaut

It is a scenario which will be familiar to many of today’s modern police force after budget cuts since 2010 have seen over 20,000 police officers taken off the streets.

London City Hall announced last year that Government cuts to policing have led officer numbers in London to drop to their lowest level per head in 20 years.