The Basic Guide to Forensic Awareness
Author: Martin Gaule
Publishers: The New Police Bookshop
Price £9.50 RRP UK
This publication is a ‘booklet’ consisting of just 68 pages, but one that was well known to me before I was asked to review it. Soon after it was first published in 2002, I received a copy from the publishers, and having read it, I immediately added it to the list of recommended reading for my University Forensic Science students.
The author has vast experience as a Crime Scene Examiner and Crime Scene Manager, and is now employed by the Forensic Science Service.
As the title states – this booklet is about ‘basic forensic awareness’ and in my view it covers the subject extremely well.
As the author states “No apology is made for the fact that the book is written in a simple and what some might consider patronising manner. This is a deliberate move aimed at ensuring the reader, whatever level of knowledge they currently have, will find the book simple to understand and easy to read”.
I am aware that Police training in the UK is much more complicated now than it was in my day, (the early 1960s). As well as learning criminal law, road traffic law etc, Police Officers now receive extensive training in such things as diversity, ethnic minorities, human rights legislation and whole myriad of other things. The result of this is that Police basic training in forensic awareness has been reduced and in some cases dropped altogether. The author states that, “This book aims to provide a basic but fundamental supplement to Police training”. It is my opinion that it does just that.
The Police Officer on the beat is invariably the first one to attend a crime scene, and it is of vital importance that he or she should be fully aware of what forensic evidence may be present, how to secure and preserve it, and most importantly how to prevent contamination. I believe that this book is worth its weight in gold and should be provided to all Police Officers on completion of their basic training. I also highly recommend it to any student studying Forensic Science, or like subjects.
Andy Day. 2005.
The idea of a dictionary of crime and police work arose initially at the suggestion of an author of crime fiction who had asked me to help him improve the air of realism around a murder investigation he intended to describe in his latest book. Despite unprecedented mass-media attention, he complained, outsiders had still largely to trust to informed guess work whenever they sought to capture the essence of what really went on at the heart of the police service. I have heard that sentiment echoed since then by a number of crime journalists as well.
Aside from those who earn their living by writing about the police. It occurred to me that a comprehensive collection of crime and policing terms could also prove to be beneficial for police officers themselves. I consulted a number of ex-colleagues from the Met, and they agreed: on a theoretical level there were textbooks aplenty on criminal law and police procedures and there were directories to be consulted on questions of structure and organisation within the job; from a practical point of view, there were still a few grizzly old job: lurking around who had forgotten more than most of us had ever learnt about how to work a beat and specialists from the stolen vehicle squad no doubt knew the ins and outs of a' cut and shut. Nowhere, however, was all this information brought together under one roof. Such a collection, it was suggested could also brine enjoyment and no little nostalgia to those who number amongst the large corpus of retired officers. While school-leavers considering a career in the police would have a sound starting point in their quest to decide whether 'the job' was the job for them. Similarly it was my oven view that a dictionary would prove a useful reference to students and practitioners of law and criminology. and to members of the many other professional and voluntary organisations whose work brings them into contact with operational police officers.
As far as the content of the A-Z is concerned. I have sought to cover as broad a scope of police-related subjects as possible. These range from attestation as a recruit constable to the tactical decisions confronting the senior investigating officer in a serial murder case. Many of the more mundane details of non-operational areas of police work have been omitted however, and I have confined traffic matters to the more serious and well known offences such as drink/drive and causing death by dangerous driving. Because of my met background, much of the terminology will reflect that used in London. in most cases the underlying procedures may be assumed to mirror those carried out in the provinces where they may simply be known by a different name. However, in those instances where a given entry describes a practice or term which is peculiar to the capital, that fact is indicated in the notes.
Once the work on the A-Z got underway. I found myself particularly drawn to investigate the origins and meaning of what I have been content to call ‘jobspeak' - that rich vein of professional terms and idioms which serve to define so much of the operational culture within the police service. During the formative early years of my own career, I remember my fascination at some of the ingenious examples I encountered. One lad on my relief was unkindly known as Chi-Chi, another the Olympic Torch. Both were members of the Ghurka regiment. Amongst the senior officers at the station were butterflies, seagulls and mushrooms. All these and many more items of ‘jobspeak' are explained. No doubt I have missed countless others besides.
Along the same lines, familiar expressions of prison slang are listed and, for those with a particular interest in the drugs-scene, there are around seventy controlled drug street-names, as well as their generic titles and details of the vocabulary associated with their use.
A thematic index has also been included, where entries are listed under broad subject headings. This, I hope, will prove a useful tool to crime writers and crime journalists especially, assisting any research into a particular area of crime or police work which they may be undertaking.
For those who wish to delve further into this fascinating and eternally evolving contest between cops and robbers, the bibliography on the final pages lists what I consider, from my own experience and from all the material to which I have had recourse during my research, to constitute some of the most accurate and most worthwhile reading currently available.
Finally, for stylistic reasons I have used the male personal pronoun throughout. In all cases, this may be read as 'he/she' or 'him/her' as appropriate. The same is the case with other references, such as rank-holders and job titles within the police and offender types or victims of crime outside it.
Ashley Rickman Cambridge March 2001
There is something about the work they do which makes police officers shrewd observers of the human condition. Facing danger on the streets and intervening in situations of high stress and tension gives them a jaundiced and sometimes grim view of life. But to be a successful upholder of the law also requires a highly-developed sense of humour.
As a result police officers have developed a peculiar language all their own. It is a lexicon of buzzwords which reduce the most complex technical terms to snappy and easily understood abbreviations and express many aspects of police work and culture in hilarious rhyming slang.
These days many police officers are feeling embattled - isolated, besieged and misunderstood by almost all groups in society. So, in private, the language officers use to one another and code and body language.
On the streets they have to be careful not to give offence and to gain the compliance of the people they deal with by using the appropriate language at all times. Police officers' restraint and politeness in sometimes very trying circumstances is extraordinary. Rarely, if ever, is the language of the police station heard on the street.
Ashley Rickman has captured all of this with accuracy and a light, fresh touch. This book is a welcome addition to British police literature. It will not only be, as it was intended, a valuable reference work for writers of crime fiction and law and order journalists, but it is also a most entertaining and amusing read in its own right.
Crime Correspondent of The Mail on Sunday President of the Crime Reporters' Association March 2001
Ashley Rickman has served in a wide variety of postings across London, as a detective and uniformed officer, and has received several chief officers' commendations for courage, persistence and devotion to duty. Since leaving the service, he has pursued his lifelong interest in the written and spoken word, working as an editor for writers of crime fiction, gaining a degree in medieval languages from the University of Cambridge, not to mention compiling a dictionary of crime and police work.
This book is offered as a useful point of reference for students and practitioners of law and criminology, and to members of the many other professional and voluntary organisations whose work brings them into contact with operational police officers.
Human Rights:The Guide for Police Officers & Support Staff.
Comprehensive manual - annotated and fully referenced. Target audience - human rights trainers/auditors, managers, best value auditors.
Human Rights: The Pocket Guide for Police Officers & Support Staff.
Ready reference pocket guide to Human Rights Act, Articles and legal principles. For busy operational police officers and support staff engaged on all duties.