Dear Commander Tucker

The head of Scotland Yard's anti-terrorism squad, SO13, is to become group security manager of ... Sainsbury's?
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The Independent Online
Congratulations on your appointment as security supremo at Sainsbury's. I look forward to your assistance in minding my trolley on a Friday evening while I pop over to the next aisle for my tins of catfood.

I would congratulate you even more if you were one of those old-fashioned policemen who actually stayed on in the police force. At this rate, there won't be anything left of the Thin Blue Line, just a few Neighbourhood Watchers and security men leering over security cameras for shots of sex in lifts to make into a spicy video. If it goes any further they'll have to woo back John Stalker to make up the numbers.

Agreed, at 53 you may be a bit long in the truncheon to infiltrate raves for signs of Ecstasy retailers. But other sorts of policing are what you are good at, presumably, otherwise you wouldn't have been appointed head of SO13, alias the anti-terrorist squad, in 1992. Did they fail to promote you to SO14? Or were you threatened with demotion to SO12-and-a-half?

You ought to be out there in the thick of it, battling against agents of an out-of-control power who are even now shinning up drainpipes with knives between their teeth - or whatever it is those cowboys at MI5 do these days.

Do you not feel a little overqualified? It's as if Michael Schumacher were employed to supervise the Sainsbury car parks or Melvyn Bragg to choose the 11 titles in the paperback rack. After all, the typical supermarket queue contains few men in balaclavas brandishing machine guns. Not many Japanese religious nuts release canisters of deadly nerve gas near the drinks counters, and anyway this attempt would be noticed by the special member of staff permanently stationed by it - the one who doesn't know anything about wines.

And it may be just luck, but no Libyans have as yet abseiled into my local branch and demanded that the USA call its warplanes off the Arabian Gulf patrol - do as they ask or the lad in charge of tinned tomatoes gets a grenade down his overalls.

Still, since you are making your move, let me report a few atrocities you could be investigating. Near me the site of a former gasworks has been causing concern to an army of local residents. Urban guerrillas, it seems, may have infiltrated the site. A clue when setting up an identity parade is that they have left behind, bang on a traffic congestion black spot, a vast store decorated by a sign that begins with S and ends in Y. The perpetrators must be caught before they strike again.

Then there is the case of the missing half-yearly profits. After enjoying a 10-20 per cent growth in profits for the last 10 years, the figures announced at the beginning of this month were static. Someone must know something (or then again, possibly not).

Then there is the matter of the protection money proferred as "political donations". I'm not suggesting it's the Mafia but there is a family involved. You go off and pull in anyone named Sainsbury. I'll look after the trolley by myself.

JONATHAN SALE

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