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The story starts with a terrorist bomb at Chelsea Barracks. Then the author takes us back to his first days as a trainee constable, learning the basics: Do the trainees know the legal definitions of the crimes that they will be faced with? Do they know whether there is a power of arrest?
This is a fascinating story of the world of policing, which starts in the 1960s and jumps forward to the twenty-first century. Working in urban and rural parts of Hampshire, Richard Ramsay does his best to prove himself as a young constable. He soon finds that police work can be a place of high drama and that police officers can be pitched into situations of danger. There is plenty of humour, but horror and tragedy also make frequent appearances.
Although Britain has a high crime rate, its police officers patrol the streets unarmed, something that usually surprises visitors from abroad. There is some historical perspective, with politics and social change in the background.
After nearly six years in Hampshire, the author transferred to the Metropolitan Police, and in central London, he was destined to face a whole new series of challenges. This would include working in plain clothes combating street crime, facing major urban rioting, and keeping the capital safe from terrorists. Later, as an experienced inspector, he worked at Scotland Yard, carrying out projects aimed at improving policing methods in the Met.
Towards the end of the book, there is some catching up to be done when Richard Ramsay meets up with two of his classmates from the class of 64 and adds some of their experiences to the story. This is an accurate account of events through the eyes of someone who was there when things happened.