However, there are times when Joe and Joanne Public just drive us Tube workers up the wall. A chap recently trotted up and said "Quick - get the police!"
I whipped out my radio and said " right guv - what's the problem?"
"Just get them!" he said indignantly, "they can find out when they get here."
Oh, boy... Listen folks, it just doesn't work like that. Before they divert a cop car racing to the scene of a reported break in, they want to know where your call stands in the list of priorities. I will only get them to see me if they think it worth while, and this is what I told the bloke. "Nobody is coming running if I snap my fingers" I told him. "If you have spotted someone waving a gun about, they'll be over soon enough - but if it's just a bloke having a fag, they will expect the station supervisor to try to sort it first".
Well, it turns out that there was a pickpocket at work on the other platform.
"Right then" says I, "got a description, guv?"
"Go round there and you'll see him " says the man.
Fine , its a bloke. " Anything else you can tell me about him, sir?" I asks.
The bloke walks off in disgust. I radio base and say that a male pickpocket has been reported on the platform- no further details.
Now look - it isn't that I don't want to catch him, but this bloke will likely get on the first train or at least move along the minute he sees a uniform loom into view.
OTOH, if I relay a description to Control, they can scan the platform for the dip, call the cops and seal off every means of escape before the cops turn up. We do this sort of thing regular, see - we have it down to a fine art.
" We are sorry to announce a slight delay. Your train will be held a few moments due to a technical fault - normal service will be resumed as soon as poss".
Translation: - the cops are racing here to pick up a tea leaf. No trains are coming in or out the station till they have him in handcuffs. Sit tight and watch, and you might have a story to tell the kids at tea time when you get home."
I remember a guy coming up in the lift at one station, and the lift "broke down". When the doors opened, the cops grabbed the big guy in the black jacket after a tip off from a couple of tourists. Sadly, not everyone wants to play ball. Not everyone *can* divvy up useful info quickly and accurately. Contrary to popular belief, we can't arrest people. What we can do is watch people, gather evidence, and point them out to the cops when the law gets here - as well as isolate them and slow them down by shutting off escape routes.
But how do you find a needle in a haystack? Tell us - is it a bloke or a woman - what are they wearing?
The cameras on the platform are being monitored by the Control Room upstairs. We can scan and search - get them under observation and walk the coppers onto them - if we know who we are after.
But please - don't expect miracles. Help us help you. It might seem like a daft question, but I don't ask if there really is no need. The system works, just work the system.
Every year, we on the Underground reunite hundreds of lost kids with parents, we recover lost property and secure convictions against all kinds of low life - but we need your help. You are our eyes and ears, but we are the ones who have to persuade the police that it's worthwhile to come all that way. Just tell us what we need to know.