The Roebuck, Leighton Buzzard, 2008 (© Bedfordshire Archives)
Monday 29th May 1916: A Leighton Buzzard special constable, Fred W. Buckmaster, has been fined £1 after being summoned on a charge of neglecting to carry out his duties as instructed. Mr. H. E. Grimmett, a special sergeant, was in charge on the evening of May 18th when Mr Buckmaster came on duty. He had patrolled the town for an hour and a half and reported at the Roebuck Corner at 9.30 p.m. He was then told to go to the police station to relieve another special constable on duty there. When the second special constable did not report Mr Grimett went to the station and found that Mr Buckmaster had never arrived. He was next seen at 11 p.m. when he drove up in his motor car. Mr Buckmaster did not offer any explanation or apology.
The Chairman of the Bench has received a letter from Captain Bassett, who is in charge of the special constables. Unfortunately it does not give Mr Buckmaster a very good reputation, indicating that he has persistently neglected his duties. Mr Buckmaster’s explanation is that on May 18th a gentleman came to him saying he had an appointment with a doctor at Dunstable, and he thought it was his duty to take him. On the two occasions when complaints had previously been made about him he was ill; he had written at the time to Captain Bassett and understood that the matter was considered to be closed. There seemed, however, to be some doubt as to whether Captain Bassett was entirely satisfied that Mr Buckmaster had indeed been ill.
The special constables are performing an excellent job across the county, and this is the first occasion on which a charge of this nature has been brought. However, it is essential that discipline is maintained. The Bench decided that an example must be made in this case and Mr Buckmaster may consider himself fortunate that as it was a first offence he received a fine of only £1, rather than the maximum amount of £3.