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No Comment

"A candid, eye-opening and often shocking account, exploring the reality of being a direct-entry detective in the Met with the responsibility to 'keep London safe for everyone'."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

One advertisement I read for No Comment describes the author's experience thus – from true crime junkie to qualified detective in under a year, but can she survive the realities of life in the Met police? The answer, as this excellent book explains, is no. The journey, the experience and the intelligent observation of the author makes for the most informative and interesting narrative, however. Here is a book that anyone interested in the demise of the Met should read. 

When I first heard about this book, I noted with some interest that it was endorsed by Graham Bartlett, formerly a police Chief Superintendent, now a popular author. I know Graham of old and I know he would only recommend a book if it’s good. Graham is honest, straight speaking and knowledgeable. If he says read it, he means it. I therefore had great expectations as I began to read. In this incisive book the author explores the challenges of life on the front line, dealing almost exclusively with serious crimes against women, describing what that reveals about our modern-day Met Police.

Many of us are familiar with the Met direct entry scheme for detectives, a fast-track method aimed at addressing a serious shortage in the number of detectives the Met has available to investigate reported crime. The reason for that shortage? Very few Met officers now wish to join what used to be the respected and specialist ranks of the CID. For some reason, a role that I aspired to as a young PC in the 80s, and which I spent years working very hard to achieve, is no longer the coveted appointment it once was. The solution to this shortage of detectives –  a hare-brained scheme if ever there was one – was to bring talented people into the police, provide them with some basic training, and then let them loose on the public. Was it doomed to fail? Certainly. Any scheme that exposes inexperienced people to one of the toughest jobs in policing, places them ahead of others who have been trying to become detectives for years and puts them under the command of people, many of whom do not agree with the scheme, have little or no time to mentor them and who see the ‘newbies’ as a liability more than an asset, was always going to be challenging.

Jess McDonald applied to join the Met as an intelligent young woman with a great deal of life experience under her belt. In theory, she should have been ideal detective material. She is articulate, a clear thinker and has an enquiring mind. She was keen to learn and wanted to make a difference. She was determined to do her bit to help victims of crime and to put bad people behind bars. She learned, the hard way, this was always going to be an impossible dream. Working conditions are inadequate, staffing levels are too low to provide even a minimum service and everyone, almost bar none, spends their working life chasing their tail. With no opportunity to cut her teeth as a uniformed probationary constable, to make her first arrests, to learn how to think, act and work as a police officer, and then to progress, slowly, into the CID under the guidance of experienced detectives, was to be denied. With her peers, these were non-swimmers given a short theory lesson and then thrown into the deep end of a shark-infested pool. Should we be surprised to discover that most did not succeed?

No Comment – at the risk of repeating myself – is a great book. And the power of it lies in Jess McDonald’s ability to write. It is engaging and laced with appropriate irony and humour. It is informative and enlightening. It is very, very readable. It also provides the kind of honest, objective view on the failings of contemporary policing in a way that only a new observer inducted into the ranks of the service could provide. It tells those senior officers charged with rescuing policing exactly where they have gone wrong. I hope they listen.

Recommended reading? Absolutely!

Matt Johnson

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