Who'd be a copper?: Thirty Years a Frontline Cop
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Who'd be a copper? follows Jonathan Nicholas in his transition from a long-haired world traveller to becoming one of 'Thatcher's army' on the picket lines of the 1984 miner's dispute and beyond. His first years in the police were often chaotic and difficult, and he was very nearly sacked for not prosecuting enough people. Working at the sharp end of inner-city policing for the entire thirty years, Jonathan saw how politics interfered with the job; from the massaging of crime figures to personal petty squabbles with senior officers.
His last ten years were the oddest, from being the best cop in the force to repeatedly being told that he faced dismissal. This astonishing true story comes from deep in the heart of British inner-city policing and is a revealing insight into what life is really like for a police officer, amid increasing budget cuts, bizarre Home Office ideas and stifling political correctness.
"I can write what I like, even if it brings the police service into disrepute, because I don't work for them anymore!" says Jonathan Nicholas. Who'd be a copper? is a unique insight into modern policing that will appeal to fans of autobiographies, plus those interested in seeing what really happens behind the scenes of the UK police.
autonomous with all their own equipment and facilities. They also therefore had their own reputations, which were jealously guarded. I had an informal twenty-minute interview with the assistant chief constable, then almost immediately afterwards I was instructed to visit the stores department for a uniform. It seemed I had indeed been given the job. I was issued my unique collar number, which would stay with me for the next thirty years and by which I would be identified, very often without an
easier to have simply set fire to everything, as other retreating armies did. I was to be assigned a tutor constable who would be my guide for several weeks. Until this period of tutorship was completed I was not expected to venture out on my own. He wasn’t at work that day, so I was asked to help move furniture. The inspector spoke to me briefly and introduced himself. He asked about my new address and I arranged for him to visit the next day so that he could inspect it. I helped carry some
constable. He was an extremely tall, bespectacled and moustachioed man in his late thirties known as Roofer Bob. I didn’t ask where his nickname originated. I was to be attached to him all the time I was at work, at least for the next few weeks. Sadly we didn’t get on at all. I got the distinct impression he didn’t like me. I remember a particularly warm evening on one of my first afternoon shifts when we were in the police car driving around Hyson Green. It was an area with a wide diversity of
hold of him to escort him to the door he tried to head-butt me. I brought him to the ground and handcuffed him. I always kept my flexible cuffs in my jeans pocket. He had been unaware I was a police officer, so when I told him the shock on his face was priceless. After a tearful apology I let him go. I suspected a complaint might be forthcoming and it did, a few weeks later. It wasn’t from the lad or his mother; they thought I’d acted appropriately, considering he later confirmed that he was
late or absent in an unauthorised manner then a huge amount of time and money was being lost. More annoying to me was the obvious fact that those of us who were conscientious had to work that bit harder. I submitted my report; a copy of which I know went to certain senior officers. I also kept a copy for myself. I passed the course and was awarded my certificate. I expected some interest in this work, but my suggestions for change disappeared, along with the report. The courses also came to an