Coppers For Charity: The thin blue line

'Ello, 'ello, 'ello. What's all this then? Simon Usborne on the curious case of 300 handcuffed police officers
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The Independent Online

It was a sight that the capital's criminals - and those languishing at Her Majesty's pleasure - could only dream of. Yesterday, more than 300 London police officers were handcuffed together in a thin blue line of polyester and hardened steel. Was this the result of a major bust by the Met's own Complaints Investigation Bureau? The smiles on their faces suggested otherwise, and as the chink of metal on metal and whoops of laughter signalled a Mexican wave, it was clear that the motive here was more lighthearted.

The officers - 305 in all - gathered at Hendon Police Training College, north London, and paid £3 each to lock themselves arm in arm, raising almost £1,000 for a charity, the Richard House children's hospice. A small group of patients from the hospice in Beckton, east London, joined the police trainees in the human chain.

A certain PC Dave O'Grady masterminded the operation, which fitted neatly into a tradition of similarly madcap charity fundraisers (you mean you don't remember the "stationary cyclathon"?) staged by recruits at Hendon , which supplies the capital's streets with more than 1,500 new police officers every year.

The event also earned the "detainees" a place in the Book of Alternative Records, which includes the tallest Lego tower (28.19m), the longest paperclip chain (2.5km), and the longest time balancing a 7ft Christmas tree on your chin (56.82seconds). And today's stunt is not the first time handcuffs have featured in the book - the Met recruits join escape artist Stuart Burrell, who in 2002 broke free from 301 pairs of regulation police cuffs in one hour. Later on the same day, he wriggled out of a single set in just 10 seconds.

The Hendon record-breakers endured 30 minutes in captivity before they were released by a group of fellow recruits standing by with tiny (and presumably well-labelled) keys.

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