G H, Reviewer
Last updated on 26 Aug 2017
I Recommend This Book
I Recommend This Book
This was like being taking back in a time machine to an era of policing that I would imagine and hope is far removed from today's procedures and polices. We are talking here of the real "Life on Mars" and "the Sweeny". This is the memoirs of Larry Henderson who was a Scenes of Crime Officer (SOCO) for London’s Metropolitan Police during a period from the seventies to nineties attending various crime scenes from murder, blackmail and robbery. His career entailed working for various departments which included becoming the head of the Flying Squad’s forensic team during a period where bank and post office raids were a common occurrence together with the Friday factory wages snatch. The nature of crime was far different then.
The book is divided into a number of concise readable chapters that in chronological order links Larry's career with the cases that he attended to. You can easily dip in out as you please. A number of famous people including politicians I'm sure will be familiar to the reader are encountered.
This book not only gives a fascinating insight into the world of forensics before the advent of DNA testing but also shows how the jealousy and obstructionist behaviour of the long established fingerprint personnel led to the constant thwarting of Larry's career. The internal corrosive politics of the time and the embittered policemen that Larry encountered is a constant theme of the book.
This book certainly gives an insight into the stress and frustrations that came with such a role as you at times were not only faced with difficult colleagues, ruthless criminals but also the vagaries of the legal system. An interesting aspect of the book was the presence in the background of the faceless security services and what role they may have had in the politics of the time. That they were certainly bugging the prime minister of the early period of the book Harold Wilson is alluded to here.
Although strangely Larry was not technically a policeman but a civil servant his book is a great reference if you not only would like to know about the forensics aspects of policing but also an historic document that covers some of the famous cases of the time. I enjoyed this book immensely and would recommend it to those who have an interest in the subject.