Sunday, 14 December 2008
A Fair Cop
I've lived a law-abiding 40-something years (which means, I suppose, I've not been caught!) and I've a healthy respect for the police and good ol' British Justice. At least, I thought I had. After reading Michael Bunting's book, two things have changed. One, reading the day-to-day details of a policeman's lot confirms what G&S already knew - it's not a happy one. Entering the house of a deceased single-mum to find her infant children feeding on her corpse to keep them from starving sticks in the mind, as does the incident where PC451 arrests a violent drunk, sustaining serious injuries in the process, and at the same time sealing the quirk of fate that see's him transformed into prisoner DK8639. It's a gripping read, not just because it really brings home how utterly random the judicial process can become: a different judge, on a different day and Michael might still be PC (or more likely, Sergeant Bunting after having passed his promotion exams whilst suspended from duty awaiting trial for assault). I'm not naive enough to believe that the cops are always good and the robbers bad, or that people who feel badly done to don't sometimes want to write their own self-justification. But Michael Bunting's story isn't like that. His self-awareness is evident throughout, as is the fact that a good policeman was transformed into a criminal fearing for his life in prison by the vicissitudes of the criminal justice system. Highly recommended!