"INTERNET LAW BOOK REVIEWS", Provided by Rob Jerrard LLB LLM (London)

Police History, Books by serving or retired officers concerning their repective forces or careers.

Books for review to Rob Jerrard please

A Policeman's Lot
Edition: 1st
Format: Paperback
Author: Tony Beaden
ISBN: 978 187396388
Publishers: AFM Books
Price: £12.95
Publication Date: 30 Sep 2009

A unique account of life in the Colonial Police Service in Africa (Uganda) from the early 1950s through to 1965.

Hailing from Lee Green in London, Tony Beaden left school aged 15 at the outbreak of war, to avoid being evacuated to the country with his classmates. Rejected by the RAF for being under age and having been bombed out during the blitz, Tony worked for Morris Motors at Cowley in Oxford, where his job involved repairing crashed Spitfires. He eventually joined the RAF in which he served as a flight engineer until 1946 when he joined the Hastings Police Force. After three frustrating years rattling doorknobs on night-duty, Tony joined the Colonial Police in Uganda as an Inspector. His 'beat' in Uganda involved dealing with wild animals, snakes, tribal warfare, murders and Mau-mau, tales of which he recounts with candour and dry humour in this wonderfully compelling book. Set mostly in the 1950s and early '60s, this is the true story of how a young man crammed a lifetime's experience into a few short years.

Tony and Margaret Beaden returned to Sussex with their young family in 1965 where Tony rejoined the police as a constable in Bexhill-on-Sea. Tony is now retired and -having owned a nursing home and dabbled in the property market -appreciates that he has used up most of his nine lives in Africa and is preparing to slow down. Recently he learned that while in Uganda his colleagues referred to him as 'Action Man'! He has no idea why! He holds the title of 'Lord of the Manor of Bexhill,' the town in which he lives quietly with his wife Margaret. They have recently celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary.

The title could be a little misleading when perhaps it should read, 'A Ugandan White Policeman's Lot', because after three years the author moved to Uganda. As with all Colonial forces this meant an instant appointment as an Inspector or above.

He served in Uganda until 1965, after which according to the book's cover, he rejoined the British Police in Bexhill on Sea. This is one of the facts of serving in a Colonial force, the rank is not recognised in the UK, although many who do return move up through the ranks after returning.

There is a short introduction to his early life, including the years with the Hastings Borough Police.

The author has had an adventurous life, which he has recorded in the book, including war service in the RAF and his long stint in Africa. I conclude from the book that he was born in 1923 (being 16 in 1939) and was therefore 42 when he returned to the UK in 1965. He doesn't dwell on that aspect - however it must have been difficult making the move back. Our paths may have moved near each other as on Page 556, the author mentions the Army mutiny in Tanganyika in 1964 and the fact that HMS Centaur arrived off Mombasa with Commandos. In fact shortly afterwards so did HMS Victorious which I was serving in. Victorious also landed Royal Marine Commandos who were forced to fire a few shots before the Army surrendered. SEE HMS Victorious

This is an interesting and well- written book, mostly about Policing in Africa where as one could imagine a white Policeman's Lot included many luxuries denied to the black Constables, not such a bad lot after all!
Rob Jerrard

Tip to Toe

A Remarkable True Story of Courage and Determination

Author: Swasie Turner

ISBN: 1905217161

Publishers: Jeremy Mills Publishing Ltd

Price £9.99

Publication Date: 2006

Publisher’s Title Information

Overcoming adversity, demonstrating true courage, sheer determination and doing what most people thought was impossible, this is the true life account of Swasie Turner's amazing journey from John O'Groats to Land's End in an NHS wheelchair.

His unique and unparalleled achievement is at once a fascinating story and intriguing journey through the British Isles, and at the same time, a moving and very human triumph.

This is the story of the journey of one man whose ,grit and determination knows no bounds and for whom raising money for charity is a life's work.

"Swasie is a genuine inspiration to others... his determination and ability to succeed should inspire everyone to compete against themselves in life and adversity".

Simon Weston, OBE

"Swasie Turner is a truly remarkable man and always seems to achieve the impossible! He has endless courage and determination to overcome any obstacle, which he uses to the full in his continuous fundraising activities. He is a true inspiration and a great friend to all".

Her Grace the Duchess Of Norfolk

This is a difficult book to review. It is, as the cover tells us, "A remarkable, true story of courage and determination" for which one can have nothing but admiration for the author. However, as a book it stands in need of stringent editing if it is to become a pleasurable read.

Swasie Turner had been in the Fire Service and then the Police Force when an incident in the course of duty left him, after painful operations and finally amputation, confined to a wheelchair.  Lifting himself out of the depression which inevitably followed, Swasie began attempting wheelchair pushes to raise money for charity.  The traumatic death of his beloved wife eight months later turned these efforts into what he describes as an obsession: he would accept any challenge to help his chosen cancer charity to fight the disease.

Thus came about the ultimate "Tip to Toe" challenge: he would travel from John O' Groats to Land's End.  Of course, this journey has been made by many others, but Swasie's was to be a first in that he would go all the way in his standard NHS, non-powered, wheelchair, using his massive upper-body strength (he had been a weight lifter and a boxer) to push himself along all the 904.2 miles of hills, towns and country of the great trek.

The trip was meticulously planned. The wheelchair manufacturers, Lomax, would provide back-up, so that a van, bearing a large notice "BEWARE - slow moving wheelchair within one mile" followed him all the way, carrying changes of clothing and other necessities and, not least, two very helpful drivers and companions. Using his Fire Service connections Mr Turner (where did the name Swasie come from?) arranged for overnight accommodation in the nearest fire station at the end of each day's trek - the back up van would take him there and return him to the evening's finishing point the following morning.  Although in some of the small unmanned stations this simply meant floor space for their sleeping bags, in many areas the warm response of the fire-fighters went well beyond the call of duty. Vehicles would be waiting for the travellers in a convenient lay-by to escort them through the towns, with crew members walking beside the wheelchair, enthusiastically collecting contributions from passers-by.

The project was successfully accomplished - and how many of us would contemplate pushing ourselves along a mere five miles of level paths?  Since then, as a synopsis at the end of the book tells us, "To date, Swasie has pushed his chair a total of  33,400 miles and raised half a million pounds for various worthy causes and charities, - each and every endeavour is all in memory of his beloved wife Marjorie."

Why, then does the book need stringent editing? First, because in spite of the intrinsic interest it allows the narrative to become boring.  Mr Turner records each day's activity in detail so that we learn at what time he rose on each of the forty-four days of the trek; that he washed and changed at the end of each stint; whom he met and what he ate and drank. Admittedly, the author wished to mention all those supporters who helped him on his way, but a judicious arrangement of themes (e.g. Hills and Valleys, Overnight Accommodation, The Weather) could have provided a more varied, interesting read than the tedious 'Then we did this ... then we did that' narrative.

Then there is the question of style.  Grammar is sometimes shaky: "A welcome awaited Art and I" is one of many similar instances.  Inverted commas are used to excess: "I 'plundered' the contents of the glass ruthlessly" gives the impression that the author wishes to draw attention to his clever use of metaphor. The buckets used for collecting donations are nearly always given this treatment, while in the following example one set of inverted commas is used correctly while the other is quite unnecessary: " ... I met a couple of cyclists who were 'going the other way' on their 'end-to-end'. When the author hits on a phrase he likes he uses it relentlessly: 'Copious amounts' of money flow into his buckets and he is frequently refreshed by 'copious amounts' of tea or water. Vocabulary can be florid: "I ... was overcome by the anaesthesia of slumber".  Mr Turner sees himself as a writer (there are frequent examples of "I presented him with a copy of my book, 'Wheelchair Pilot"') so perhaps in his next venture into writing he should submit himself to a little guidance.

However, if readers are not irritated by these possibly pedantic cavils but want simply to read a tale of magnificent fortitude and single-mindedness, there is no doubt that this book is for them.  It is illustrated with photographs taken en route.

Pearl Norman

The Aylesbury Duck

Author: James Goodwin


Publishers: Melrose Books

Price £12.99

Publication Date: 3rd October 2006

Publisher’s Title Information

Jim provides a retrospective, behind-the-scenes look at various practices that are less common today, such as the police boxes and the 'bobbies on the beat'. Although he willingly shares these memories with us, which make this an amusing and humorous read, Jim also portrays effectively the harsh reality of the job. He provides moving descriptions of some of the disturbing issues that the police deal with every day - accidental deaths, fires, suicides and murders. The reader will soon appreciate the courage and strength required by the men and women in the profession, both past and present, witnessing in their daily lives happenings that the average citizen can barely comprehend.

This challenging but light-hearted work will prove essential reading for anyone interested in crime, sociology and history, and reveals why we should never take the Police Force for granted.

James Goodwin was born in Aylesbury on the 2nd March 1930. He moved to Rochester in 1939 where he attended Sir Joseph Williamsons' Mathematical School up to the age of 18.  James joined the Metropolitan Police Force in 1951.  The Aylesbury Duck provides a fascinating insight into his career and demonstrates how the Police Force has changed over the last 50 years - the uniform, the laws, the people, and even the crimes.


It is not unusual for members of the older generation to recall with smugness the immediate post-war years when police constables such as PC George Dixon, a fictitious character portrayed by Jack Warner in the BBC TV series Dixon of Dick Green, maintained law and order in London by their mere presence of walking the streets.

This period is dealt with by ex-Police Constable James Goodwin in his book, The Aylesbury Duck.  Some of the incidents recalled would scarcely have been written into the television series!  He describes police work in the 1950s in short snappy paragraphs and recalls the long black sleek Wolseley police cars and loud gong-gongs that always raced after the culprits at the conclusion of every crime film; how he encountered his first corpse; the famous New Scotland Yard murder squad detectives who never failed to solve cases and behind the scenes activities (the word “immoderate” comes to mind!) of police constables that were probably unknown even to the Commissioner of Police.

The second part of the book details his life after joining the traffic section as a motor cyclist, his training at Hendon Driving School and various incidents with which he was called to deal.  The third section relates to the Lewisham Train Crash in 1957 where he assisted removing and recovering bodies.  Although the shortest part of the book, the graphic description of the horror of the accident and his narration compels the reader to really appreciate some of the more unpleasant aspects of police work.

The fourth and final section again describes his training at the Hendon Driving School, dealing with traffic accidents, his career as a member of the Metropolitan Police motor cycle precision team and the Special Escort Group when he had the honour to meet a number of famous personalities.

Of the four parts of the book, the last could well appeal to modern-day motor-cyclists.  There have been other books about patrolling the streets, investigating crimes and official reports of accidents, but few have been published by officers who were members of the prestigious Special Escort Group.  If the author wished to pursue his literary career, he could do no better than to write another book dealing exclusively with this subject, including diagrammatic descriptions of the work of the Group.  Today it has been possible to watch from a helicopter the police escorting royalty and VIPs through the busy streets of London at the heart of the rush hour.   It is not always appreciated the timing and accuracy of driving that is required, so a follow-up of the present book by an experienced driver would be welcomed.  Meanwhile, James Goodwin’s vivid description of bygone times is a fascinating read of the days never to return.


Behind the Blue Lamp

Authors: David Swinden & Peter Kennison

ISBN: 0954653408

Publishers: Coppermill Press

Price £19.99 RRP UK

Publication Date: 2003

Behind the Blue Lamp - explores the often-colourful history of policing in East London and is a serious look at the police culture.

We are told on the cover that this book is an opportunity to look behind the "blue lamp" in a socio/historical way, and to tell the stories of the people who lived and worked in these police stations.

It reveals how the police culture developed historically, socially and institutionally. The book shows how the police history is set within each of the North and East borough oundaries. The local aspects of policing have been introduced in a number of ays through work practices, buildings, uniforms, medals vehicles and other equipment.

This book is a very valuable contribution to the Metropolitan Police and Police history in general.Covering as it does, North and East London, makes it particularly interesting for your Reviewer a retired City of London Policemen who spent 8 years as a PC at Bishopsgate where a strong association existed with those divisions which border the City. My children went to School in Bethnal Green and caught the no 8 bus opposite the station where we lived in a police flat. 

During my service with the City of London Police, some cars and vans carried a Met radio as well as a City one and it was often the case that you left the City to assist Met units requesting urgent assistance – mostly it would be into what is now Tower Hamlets or north to Kings Cross, with Alpha 8 the crime car, it could be even further on the odd occasion.

The City is of course surrounded by the MPD which necessitated complete co-operation: one of the strongest scenarios being Middlesex Street (Petticoat Lane) where the pavement to the west is within the City, with the road and the east pavement being within the MPD. I will probably be challenged on the exact border, my "Duckham’s Historical map of The City of London" does show the border moving into the centre of the road in places.

If on duty in the market on a Sunday, an arrest a yard outside meant (in theory) a trip to Leman Street with a prisoner. Police ranks come in for some discussion, eg the rank of acting Inspector in the City was denoted by a Crown being added above the chevrons, this could confuse Metropolitan Police Officers coming into a City station. Many had known the unique rank of Station Sergeant which existed in the Met until 1973 – they also had three chevrons with a crown above, and, since it was the norm in the City to address Acting Inspectors as "Sir" they often looked confused. 

Family Historians will also find this book invaluable since as well as the history of the actual Police Stations, there are 299 photographs and illustrations and an Index of the many hundreds of officers mentioned in the book.

Although I lived at Hornchurch (approximately 1947) I was never aware of a Police Station there (Page 185).  Just after WW2 my father was posted to RAF Hornchurch and we lived in married quarters which were outside the actual aerodrome.  We children entered via a small side gate, therefore avoiding the RAF Police stationed at the main gate.  I do not recall any encounter with a local policeman but have memories of that period including the German POW who did the garden and catching the 123 Bus to Romford for the Saturday morning "Flicks".

I didn’t have too much trouble with the RAF Police since my father in charge of the Cookhouse supplied their tea, sugar and milk.  I did twice encounter the local Fire Service, who had to extricate me when I got my head stuck in iron railings.

The authors are to be congratulated on the amazing amount of information they have gathered.

David Swinden, joined the Metropolitan Police as a Constable in 1958. He spent his first eight years at West Ham Police Station in Stratford and then worked for two years at Romford.  He also served at Bow Road, Woodford, Barkingside, Ilford, Islington and Kings Cross Road Police Stations.

Behind the Blue Lamp is co-authored by Peter Kennison.

Peter Kennison is a lecturer in Criminology at Middlesex University. He is module leader for Policing and Community Safety in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. He retired from the Metropolitan Police as Inspector in 1996 having served at six of the police stations mentioned in this book.

Other books of Interest
"Internet Law Book Reviews" Copyright Rob Jerrard 2007