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!


Michael said...

Hi Tim

Many thanks for this wonderful review of my book. I sincerely appreciate your astute critique of my situation.

I wish you well with the launch of your book.


The Dotterel said...

Thanks Michael. Really enjoyed the book - an eye-opener if ever there was one! It ought to be compulsory reading at law school!

Brother Tobias said...

Good review which made me want to read it. You realise if you keep this up I'm going to have to make another bookcase.


Thought I would pop over and see what you're all about then ;-) (BTW thanks for your comment on my blog). This is the second post I've read about this book. I'm now going to go out and buy the book. Merci. TFx

Gadjo Dilo said...

Yes, this would be an enlightening and a chilling story, I'm sure. Best of luck with the sales of your book, Michael.

Michael said...

Tom - Thank you very kindly for your interest.

Gadjo - Your best wishes are appreciated. Thanks.

I hope you both enjoy the book.

Get Off My Lawn! said...

I was just thinking I could use some book recommendations. Appreciate the visit over at my place. Just wanted to stop by and say hi.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Trying to be a good policeman probably is a punishable offence these days.

The Dotterel said...

You'd think so, reading Michael's book, Laura!

lettuce said...

oh dear. this sounds very good, ie. dreadful insight

and i feel awfully shallow saying that it confirms why i tend to read fiction


(btw. hello! i've seen you round and about blogland before, not sure where...)

Michael said...

It is a fact that the more tenacious and conscientious you are as a policeman, the more people you'll try to arrest and therefore the higher chance of getting a complaint. It's a sad fact that if I hadn't volunteered to take this particular call off colleagues on their break, I would not be a convicted criminal and would still be in the police.

The people involved in bringing about prosecutions against the police do so from a high position of blind ignorance because they have never been there.

I would like to say, that sometimes charges against officers are correctly brought. When dealing with violent people, however, the individuals deciding on the fate of that officer(s) should be experienced in this area of policing. People in the CPS aren't and that is why the system is wrong, because it is a well-known fact that jury's often convict or acquit based on their perception of the individual and not on the balance of evidence.

The Dotterel said...

Sad fact, Michael, and not one that inspires any high degree of confidence in those of us without your professional experience. It seemed from reading your book, though, that the particular trial judge was largely responsible for the jury's verdict, emphasising certain evidence and ignoring the rest. His evident hostility seems odd when - to an outsider - you're all 'on the same side' so-to-speak! Been stopped for speeding, had he?

Michael said...

Hi Tim

I have to be careful what I say about the judge. My book was scrutinised several times by a legal expert before publication.

It is a fact, however, that legal opinion of the judge's summary is that it was not balanced. It is a fact that he warned the jury about defence evidence from colleagues as they may have had an agenda out of loyalty to a friend. It is a reasonable assumption, then, that most people would be influenced by such a comment.

It is a fact that the judge charged me with common assault 23 months after the incident had occurred (normally you have a maximum of six months to bring such a charge). This charge was brought about at a time in my trial where the evidence for actual bodily harm was shown to be too weak for a conviction.

It is a fact that the judge ignored pleas from the prosecution not to run the case at the beginning of proceedings.

I could go on, but hopefully from these factual comments you'll understand the way I feel about the judge.

One can only guess what was on the judge's mind when he sat on my trial.

Decent, law-abiding people never get to see this side of the judiciary. Once it has its teeth in you, it doesn't tend to let go.

Maggie May said...

I will look out for this book. Sounds chilling!

Lori ann said...

Oh my, I don't think I could read about the poor mother, will have to skim that part..but after such a wonderful review and interesting comments, I am compelled to read "A Fair Cop".
Thanks for sharing this,

x Lori

Tony said...

What a great author you turned out to be. I could not put this book down. Having served 30 years in the WY Police myself, i would say to any new recruit. READ THIS BOOK.

What you had to deal with as a police officer is day to day stuff. Or so we think.Common assault used to be a pocket book entry. Now look what can happen.
Good on you Michael. Can't wait for the second book.

Regards Tony.

Michael said...

Thanks, Tony.

I'm glad you enjoyed my book. I'm working on several projects at the moment, but I'm confident I'll have a manuscript for my second book complete by the end of 2009.

Thanks again for your very kind comments. If you're in the area, I'm doing an event at Waterstone's in Leeds at 7pm on Thursday 15th January.

Old Knudsen said...

Being ex army who has patrolled with police I know that dealing with and seeing the bad side of people constantly, can get to you. Then when you get a thick neck thug with the gift of the gab who can appear meek and mild complain about you the whole world turns on its head.

Zero tolerance for crime comes at a price but people don't want to pay it.
I'll look out for this book.

Michael said...

Old Knudsen

I couldn't put it any better myself. Thank you.

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