It's Not Wasting Police Time
There are no cheap laughs in Perverting the Course of Justice. You WILL laugh, when you read about how Gadget is not allowed to change the clock in his office in line with daylight saving hours, in case he falls down and hurts himself. If he does change it, the union rep will change it back. You'll also laugh when you read about Operation Inclusive Festival (formerly known as Christmas). And you'll chuckle despairingly at the description of the "mystery shopper" due to turn up at Gadget's police station to test his managerial skills.
But most of the book, written by a serving police inspector, will not, or should not, make you laugh. You will read about a police force in decay, full of number-crunchers and policy-followers who have abandoned commonsense in favour of targets, performance indicators and positive media coverage. This isn't skirted over or lightly-satirised by Inspector Gadget, but dissected and exposed in all its horrifying glory. Think Wasting Police Time meets Private Eye.
He goes further. The decline of British policing into farcical bureaucracy is matched by an equal decline of British society. Gadget gives example after example of feral yobs, out-of-control teens, savage and violent criminals the like of whom the police face daily. You read about people who think nothing of thrusting broken bottles into the faces of bright young policemen and women. People who lay their babies in front of police car tyres to prevent them being chased. People who ransom their own kids back to the police for money seized from their criminal activities. And it's not just the police who are ill-equipped to deal with these people. The desperate scramblings and ineffectiveness of the police is matched by other agencies: hospitals, Social Services, the courts.
Some of it might make you shake your head in disbelief. Not if you are a police officer, especially one on the British front-line. Or it might make you reach for your pen and scribe a letter to your local MP. It should.
If it doesn't make you shake your head, doesn't make you write that letter, doesn't provoke dinner-time conversation and a tad more sympathy for the front-line uniformed cops who grapple daily with this tide of lunacy, I'd suggest that you resign from the Cabinet tonight and - as Inspector Gadget would say - "reset your moral compass".
Note: Gadget's book is from the same publisher as mine, but I don't get any money for promoting him. At least, not yet... hint, hint...
'Diary of an On-Call Girl' is available in some bookstores and online.