Saturday 5 June 2010

Policing, Bookdagger and Bookwise

After Derrick Bird's shooting spree in Cumbria on Wednesday, almost inevitably people are looking for someone or something to blame, given that the culprit is now beyond reach of earthly justice. For example, there is a suggestion that the Cumbria police would be more effective if they were part of a larger, merged force.

Now I'm not an expert on police force structures, but the issue of possible merger was a live one four or five years ago, and touched on in my early Lake District Mysteries. Suffice to say that, while merger may bring some advantages, there are also plenty of obvious disadvantages. Not least the risk of reducing locally-based policing, which (at least in my opinion) can contribute to keeping communities safe and cohesive. There might also be a tendency to focus on urban, rather than rural, policing. I do hope that the tragedies in Cumbria don't result in knee-jerk reactions.

On a lighter note, I've contributed a couple more columns to Bookdagger, one on the subject of Eurocrime, and the other taking crime fiction conventions as my topic. Here is a link to the site if you would like to read more: Bookdagger

Last Sunday I had the intriguing experience of discovering that a book of mine featured in The Sunday Times Bookwise quiz. I've had a go at that quiz hundreds of times over the years and I'm not sure I've ever got 100% correct answers, proving I don't know my literature quite as well as I ought to. But there were enough clues for me to identify that the answer to one of the questions was The Arsenic Labyrinth!


Anonymous said...

Martin - Thanks for your thoughts on the police force merger. I understand what you mean about the cohesiveness of small communities and, like you, I hope that stays true for Cumbria.

Funny you'd mention The Arsenic Labyrinth. I saw it and two other of your titles in a local library in Kansas City (MO), where I've been staying this week at a conference. It was like seeing frineds of mine far from home.

Uriah Robinson said...

Martin- the bigger the force the more likely it seems that police who don't know the particular district will be allocated to a task. When we lived in a fairly isolated rural hamlet we had to direct the police to a neighbour's house when their burglar alarm went off. It was well known they had a gun collection. With no streetlights the young cop looking for their house was completely lost.
We drove up a back road yesterday from Exeter to Tiverton possible unknown to many in the police, and only met one car in the 8 miles. A taxi driver, they know every road.

Martin Edwards said...

Margot, thanks for letting me know - a bit of news to gladden any author's heart!

Martin Edwards said...

Excellent point, Uriah. I know that mergers may achieve welcome efficiencies and economies of scale, but there are practical drawbacks.

Unknown said...

That's so cool about the book quiz. I also think you're right about the police merger. It can turn out to be a bigger problem for a one time issue.

Also, I know I'll love your latest book, it's exactly the genre I like reading. Perhaps for my book review, I can email you off a few author related questions? Let me know.


Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Clarissa, it would be my pleasure.

Jane Finnis said...

Great, Msrtin, finding your book featured in the book quiz! As to police mergers, surely they don't have to mean the abolition of local policing; that happens, all too often, if the police authority so decides, but it seems to me that with modern communications we could still have locally-based bobbies who are in touch with their colleagues. What bothers me about the many (40+ is it?) police authorities in England is that today's crooks are mobile, and time and momentum must inevitably be lost if a criminal moves onto a neighbouring "patch" and an officer in pursuit has to liaise with another set of policemen in order to follow him.