No present-day police officer would be able to imagine having to do their job without radios, cars and computers.

This is what ex-Detective Inspector Martin Firman had to do.

Joining Bedfordshire and Luton Police straight from school as a cadet in the early 70s, at 18 he became a Constable and, having been equipped with a truncheon and a whistle, started his career.

Over time, the force did get Panda cars (the first in the country) and eventually radios (which often did not work).

Martin gave numerous examples of incidents in which he had been involved, many of which were frightening and harrowing.

Finding an IRA bomb at a service station, investigating suicides, armed robbery, keeping the peace between Luton and rival football fans, and protecting uncooperative politicians and their families, to mention a few. And although CID trained, Martin qualified for the Traffic Division, entry to which was highly competitive, and he became a grade one pursuit driver.

Martins’ approach to policing centred on communication with the public, exemplified by his approach during the Miners’ strike, during its height he arranged to meet some of the miners’ leaders to try to understand their concerns. In addition, he led a group of his officers down a mine to experience at first hand what miners had to do.

Although realising that times have changed substantially since his time, he suggested that better communication between police and public would be of great benefit to the community they serve, most of whom now never see or speak to a police officer.