Got this from Special-K who says it happened before Christmas but it made Lesley laugh so much she fell off her chair in the PC's writing room. Apparently they got a report of a women being set on fire at a pub on Dean Street. So she and a PC from my nick called Purdey tool over and find this distressed, and slightly singed, lady in a fur coat outside.
She tells them that a guy inside keeps trying to set her fur coat on fire. Purdey, wanting to look good in front of Special-K, assures the lady that he'll take care of this and would she be so kind as to enter the pub with him and indicate the miscreant with the wayward cigarette lighter.
In they duly go and there's the suspect, dressed for the opera including a cape and no more than four foot high not counting his top hat. He is, in short, what my dad would call a midget and what I'd call, being a PC PC, one of the little people.
Now the thing about being a policeman is you're supposed to loom in an intimidating manner over suspect and witness alike. In fact 90% of the job can be achieved through the deployment of tactical looming. Fights can be broken up, confessions extracted and motorists chastised with little aggro and, more importantly, less effort. But there's such a thing as overkill.
Poor Purdey couldn't work out what to do, did he stay upright and shout down at the top of the guys head, did he sit down, or kneel down? In the end he adopted a crouched stance which set the whole pub to laughing. Lesley said he should have picked up the 'little person' and stood him on a table.
Now the little guy was, in addition to being an opera buff, an animal's right nut which was why he was setting the lady's fur coat on fire -- as a protest. Purdey did his best to explain that free speech stops short of attempted arson but the little person wasn't having it. He considered nicking the little bastard but figured that slapping the handcuffs on would make him look even more of a prat.
The moral of this story is, unless you're sure nobody is watching, only pick on people your own size.