If you succeed in badly hurting a police dog, you’d better watch out for it’s handler!

This is a story with a happy ending. German Shepherd police dog and his handler PC Dave Wardell were both stabbed five months ago while apprehending an armed robber.

All I can say is that of the many police dog handlers I knew and worked with, I know exactly how they would respond if somebody badly hurt their dog, and it wouldn’t be pretty! ūüėÄ

Read the story here.

All about Carleton Hall – Cumbria Police H.Q.


The ‘mesne manor’ of Carleton Hall, one mile south-east of Penrith, was “formerly the residence of the ancient family of the Carletons, who appear to have been settled here from soon after the time of the conquest, until the failure of male issue by the death of Robert Carleton, Esq., in 1707.”[1]¬† This occurred after seven successive generations of Thomas Carletons as the ‘man of the house’,¬†and the Hall was then¬†purchased by John Pattinson of Penrith, attorney-at-law.[2]

The south east side of Carleton Hall, Cumbria Police Headquarters, at Penrith. Strictly copyright, 1979, Eddie Wren. All rights reserved.

In 1828, Thomas Lord Wallace sold the hall and manor to John Cowper, Esq.¬† “The grounds and walks owe many of their attractions to the correct taste of Mrs Wallace, widow of James Wallace, Esq., His Majesty’s Attorney-General, and mother of the above-named Lord Wallace.¬† That lady succeeded in rendering Carleton one of the most beautiful spots in this part of England…”[1]

During the first half of the twentieth century it was the home of the Carleton-Cowper family.

The Grade II* Listed Building is described as early 18th Century, with alterations made later that century.  It was restored in 1859 and partly rebuilt in 1937.[3]

The name ‘Carleton’ originates from the¬†Old English words¬†‘ceorl, ‘carle’ or¬†‘charle’, which mean ‘farmer’ or ‘free peasant’, plus¬†‘tŇęn’ a ‘vill’ or ‘settlement’.¬†The meaning is¬†therefore: ‘settlement of farmers’, as a result of which prolific originations¬†the place names and surnames¬†of Carlton, Carleton¬†and Charlton¬†are quite common in England.[4]

During the war years of 1940-43 the hall was occupied by the Furze Close School and from 1943-46 it was a military hospital.

Police Years

In May, 1950, the hall was occupied by the Cumberland and Westmorland Constabulary, forerunner of the Cumbria Constabulary which in turn came into existence when the modern, non-metropolitan county of Cumbria was created in May 1974, at which time both entities absorbed small areas from North Yorkshire (the Sedbergh area) and Lancashire (the South Lakes and Furness). Cumbria is the second-largest county in England, at 2613 sq.ml. (6,767 sq.km.).

An intake of cadets on the south east steps of Carleton Hall Police H.Q. in the late 1970s, Photo copyright, Eddie Wren, 1979. All rights reserved.

Related old buildings nearby¬†which used to be the stables, carriage houses, etc.,¬†frame three sides of a courtyard which during police years has been known as the ‘traffic yard’, where the vehicle repair garages are located.¬† The rest of the police headquarters consists of modern buildings of various ages.


Steve Shearwater:¬† When I was stationed at H.Q. Traffic (nowadays known as the Roads Policing Unit), back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the main entrance foyer¬† of the old building at¬†Carleton Hall was still lined with large, grand oil paintings, with eyes that —¬†according to several of my former ‘control room’¬†colleagues who like myself used to do security checks through the hall at all hours of night — would “follow you around,” always seeming to be looking at you¬†wherever you walked.¬† Given that the only illumination,¬†by necessity for security checks, was a small flashlight, the autonomous, random¬†creaking of ancient floorboards and the legend of the ‘grey lady’ ghost added to the experience!¬† I presume that the oil paintings and the grey lady are all¬†still there.

Specifically on the subject of the ghost, Gordon Mackenzie fascinatingly writes: “I would be about 7 or 8, so maybe 1965/6, my dad [the headquarters caretaker]¬†had a workshop in the cellar of Carleton Hall next to the Armoury and which¬†was eventually used to store weapons in about the 1970‚Äôs.¬†¬†We used to live in one of the cottages which became the printing Dept in 1977 and I used to go and see the old man at night in his workshop, no security in those days.¬† I asked him one day about the¬†ghost.¬†¬†My Dad was very private and we had a struggle to get anything out of him about his childhood and war service, but this night he opened up to me about the ‘grey lady’. He said that he saw her on several occasions and not to be scared of her, and that she had a friendly face and was a guardian of Carleton Hall. She was searching for her baby daughter that her husband had killed in a fit of anger because he wanted a son and heir! The old man never spoke about the ‘grey lady’ again and would not repeat what he said to me, he denied it.¬†¬† A long time ago but one of those moments in my life that I will never forget.¬†¬† Carleton Hall can be a bit spooky to some but we never felt anything like that, I suppose we were used to it having grown up there.”

In this context, Heather Thompson has mentioned that some of the staff in the Admin. Dept., located in the actual Hall, hated working overtime because when it was time to leave they found the deserted building creepy.

Steve Shearwater

More recollections¬†from¬†serving/retired¬†police officers¬†and staff about any suitable H.Q. topics¬†would be very welcome for inclusion on this page (side-issue pages can easily¬†be added). Please post¬†any¬†pertinent,¬†non-controversial comments in the ‘Replies’ box,¬†below, and if possible¬†perhaps also send¬†digitised images¬†for inclusion (all info & images¬†will be credited to the sender).



  1. The history and antiquities of Cumberland: with biographical notices and memoirs, 1840, by Samuel Jefferson, Vol. 1; pages 93-4.
  2. The history and antiquities of the counties of Westmorland and Cumberland, Vol. 2; pages 403-4.
  3. British Listed Buildings
  4. Wikipedia

Acknowledgements (other than those mentioned in the actual article, above):

  • Mark Jenkins

The former Keswick (‘Hawthwaite’) Magistrates Court

Now part of a restaurant, this is the interior of the former Magistrates Court at Keswick — the place known as Hawthwaite in Steve Shearwater’s Cumbria Police Novels — and it is still largely intact and recognisable.

.¬†¬†¬† The interior of the former Magistrates Court at Keswick, the Hawthwaite of Steve Shearwater’s¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬† .¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Cumbria Police Novels

The former witness box is beneath the small canopy, between the first and second windows on the left.  Journalists sat behind the barrier that is nearer the camera, behind the lady in blue and red.

The magistrates — sometimes just two but usually three — sat directly¬†behind the far barrier, up where the two distant people are, in this photo, and of course, facing this way.¬† The Magistrates’ Clerk — the only legally trained person on the team (generally a qualified solicitor) —¬†sat this side of that same¬†barrier, where part of a wood and¬†red leather seat can now be seen.

If the¬†defendant was still under arrest and therefore coming from the cells, they would be with a police officer¬†in the dock, seen here correctly¬†with¬†its brass rails still¬†around it (behind the stacked, children’s¬†high-seats,¬†on the right).

The lock on an old cell door – now a small, semi-private¬†dining room –¬†at the former Keswick police station¬†(photo¬†by Elizabeth Pennington)

Lastly, non-participating spectators would be seated where this shot was taken from, behind the nearest set of rails visible in the photograph.

I would be very curious to know how many police officers, over almost the entire 20th Century, went into this witness box and gave the oath:

“I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I will give shall¬†be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†

[Note that there is no “so help me God” in Britain¬†so over-enthusiastic witnesses who had seen too much American¬†television and¬†tried to include the phrase were reprimanded for not reading the words¬†from the card!]

This was followed by the announcement of rank, number and name, e.g.

“Your Worships, I am Constable 8-6-8 Shearwater, currently stationed here at Hawthwaite”¬†(or whichever other police station).¬†

One then waited until the prosecution gave the instruction to proceed with what is correctly known as¬†the ‘evidence in chief’.

Historical: It is thought local courts have been held in Keswick for hundreds of years. There was a Copyhold and Baronial Court in the town from medieval times. By 1847, a magistrates’ court operated on the second floor of Keswick Moot Hall on most Saturdays.

Building work commenced on Bank Street on the Keswick magistrates court and police station in 1901 and they were opened by Cumberland’s Chief Constable in 1902. They are on the site of a former workhouse that had been founded in the will of the eminent lawyer and judge Sir John Bankes, of Keswick.  Born in 1589, he was eventually called to the bar, elected as an MP, and was knighted in 1631. He was appointed Attorney General and from 1640 until his death in 1644 he was Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, one of the highest judicial officials in England and now the name of the restaurant that occupies these buildings. The court and police station remained in use until the year 2000.  As well as being a magistrates’ court for almost 100 years, the building was also used for many thousands of inquests, including those concerning many major accidents on the A66 and mountain and lakes tragedies.

Sadly, asset-stripping¬†by closing¬†police stations and courts has been happening throughout Britain for many years now, and whilst it¬†might be argued that we can get by with fewer, centralized courtrooms, there can be no denying that crime is on the increase because of fewer police officers¬† (down by over 20,000, nationally) and similarly that road deaths are also rising because of the reduction¬†in staffing or even the complete ¬†disbanding of each county’s Roads Policing Unit.

Steve Shearwater

Additional reading:   ANGER AND SADNESS AS KESWICK COURT CLOSES FOR BUSINESS, plus an additional article about the closure of the court, both from the Cumberland & Westmorland Herald



    Copyright, 2017.  All rights reserved.    But the whole page may be shared on social media as long as it remains completely intact.












Wildlife Crime: Cumbrian Peregrine Falcon Shot

27 March 2017

The RSPB* is investigating the death of a wild peregrine falcon in Cumbria…

.                      Peregrine Falcon (not linked to this incident). Copyright photo: Eddie Wren

The bird was given a post-mortem but the cause of death could not be confirmed. However, an X-ray carried out by a local vet uncovered three lead shot fragments in its neck, knee and hip, revealing the bird had been shot at an earlier date, but survived despite its injuries…

PC Sarah Rolland for Cumbria Police said: ‚ÄúIt is quite apparent that the peregrine [found at] Newbiggin had been shot at some stage in its life. However, the post mortem indicates the fragments of shot may be historic and were not the direct cause of its death…”

Peregrines, like all birds of prey, are protected by UK law. Anyone found guilty of killing or harming a peregrine could face a fine of £5,000 and jail. Despite this, since 2010 there have been 57 confirmed cases of birds of prey being shot in northern England alone.

If you have any information relating to this case [or any other wildlife crimes]¬†call Cumbria police on 101…

Read the full article, from ITV.

Steve Shearwater


* RSPB        Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Should the British Police all be Armed?

Terrorists are known to¬†select targets which give them maximum publicity and this week’s attack at Westminster¬†in London, at a globally-known landmark, with four victims killed from a total of three countries and¬†injured¬†people from 11 different countries, certainly created global news.

Now, in the immediate aftermath, it is accurate to say that media companies are still seeking every angle on the story.  Here in the Border Television region of Northern England and Southern Scotland, the question is being asked:  Should all police officers in our relevant counties be routinely armed?

.        Armed Police in Newcastle (Photo: ITV)

Many members of the public now believe that arming the police would be a good thing, although it needs to be said that many were against the presence of armed officers at a 2016 Christmas Fair in Newcastle (see the above photograph) because it was so out-of-keeping with the nature of the event.  Yet it also needs to be said that such events clearly do present themselves as potential targets from a terrorist point of view.  So there is a distinct clash of public opinions on this issue.

I joined the police back in the early 1970s and from the outset was of the stated opinion that if the British police, as a whole, were permanently armed during the period of my service, I would resign on principle.

Are the British police perfect?  No, not by some distance, but they still rightly are the envy of many developed nations and iconic in their typical absence of firearms, other than on targeted protection duties.

As tragic as the death of PC 4157U Keith Palmer was, two days ago, it has to be said that almost certainly he was the only person injured or killed as a result of not every police officer at the Westminster¬†location being armed, and it is possible he might not have been able to save himself even if he’d had a gun, if he was caught unawares.¬† It is unlikely in the extreme that the police would have fired shots at the car when it was among pedestrians and other vehicles¬†on Westminster Bridge where all of the other injuries and deaths occurred, and in any event that did not happen.

Would the permanent arming of all police officers throughout Britain prevent terrorist attacks or the lone-wolf attacks of mentally unstable people?  Quite clearly not, otherwise there would have been no attacks in France or Germany or any other countries where all the police are armed.

Aside from terrorism, Britain’s serious crime squads naturally do carry firearms whenever deemed necessary, but that is not what this is about.

One key question is: Would arming all police¬†officers reduce the number of officers who are murdered on duty?¬† This is a very appealing conclusion to draw.¬† However, based on the information given in the¬†source shown in¬†paragraph (b) in the below footnotes, ‘only’ about 134 British¬†police officers have been the victims of deliberately intended deaths in the 117 years since the start of the year 1900 — an average of 1.145 officers per year.¬† (Note that this does not include over¬†300 police victims of¬†the euphemistically-named ‘Troubles’¬†in Northern Ireland or of IRA bombs in¬†England.)¬† This question therefore is whether arming all British police officers would be likely to reduce the remarkably low number of officers who are deliberately killed on what can be classed as normal duties.

Would there be any disadvantages to arming all British police officers?  Three that stand out are:

  1. It is argued, with some justification, that criminals committing serious crimes are more likely to carry firearms to aid their escape if they know the police will be armed.  This clearly increases the danger for anyone in the vicinity;
  2. As soon as a police officer with a handgun gets into a physical confrontation, there is a danger that the person or people he/she is fighting with will try to take away the firearm and could potentially use it against the officer, a particular risk if drunk, drugged or mentally unstable people are involved.  This, in turn, is more likely to cause officers to use their weapon themselves.  Again, the dangers increase dramatically.  Please view the 15 October 2016 article in the footnotes below, and you will see that in just one year there were an estimated 23,000 assaults against British police officers.  I cannot believe for one minute that if guns had been carried at all of these events there would have been no lethal outcomes;
  3. It is, in my opinion, inevitable that at least some crime suspects would end up being shot when a gun-free policing approach would otherwise have brought them in alive.¬† This, of course,¬†isn’t a criticism of the guns, per se, but of the fact that with any very large body of armed officers some will inevitably interpret and apply¬†the relevant rules and laws, shall we say,¬†“a little too freely.”¬† Other countries’ police forces already provide repeated examples of this undesirable situation.

At the opposite extreme to the current state of affairs in¬†Britain, it is a fact that in just 20 days during January 2016, police officers in the USA shot and killed more people than had been shot and killed by the police¬†in Britain in the previous 25 years!¬† I’m not pretending that either country is like the other but with a population ratio of just 5:1¬†the disparity is so cataclysmic that in Britain¬†we really must ask ourselves¬†whether we wish to risk heading in that direction.

This is an important topic.¬† Please feel free to add your comments at the foot of this page (polite and sensible only, please).¬† Or just a ‘Yes’ for arming all police officers or a ‘No’ for not doing so will suffice!

Steve Shearwater


Related topic: Roll of Honour for Cumbria Police Officers


a)¬† How many British¬†police officers are harmed in the line of duty?¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† “The Home Office estimates there were 23,000 assaults against officers in 2014/15, and (in the then 70 years)¬†since 1945 more than 250 officers [see below]¬†have been fatally shot… [Between 2010 and October¬†2015], 11 officers of the Metropolitan police lost their lives in the line of duty.”¬† The Guardian. 15 October 2015

b)¬† It looks possible that the above¬†claim that “since 1945 more than 250 officers have been fatally shot” may be¬†misleading¬†because a separate, seemingly¬†well-sourced list shows that a total of ‘just’¬†260 officers have been killed as a result of¬†criminals’ actions¬†between 1900 and 2016 (of whom 68 officers¬†were shot and 23 stabbed).¬† Of these 260 deaths, however, ‘only’ about half of them (i.e. 129) appear to have died as a result of deliberate assaults by an offender, as opposed to say deaths that occurred during pursuits.¬† This latter¬†list, however, excludes those officers killed in the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland which may¬†explain the aforementioned¬†apparent¬†disparity in overall¬†numbers.



‘How dare you’ kill off a dog in your novel!

A good friend and former Cumbria Police colleague Peter Reece has given me a hard time and a laugh (with a bit of dialect, too), this morning, on Facebook.

“…How dare you kill off an old dog [in your novel]?¬† You had me in tears theer, marra. I would have preferred the drunk driver to have ‘bit the dust’.¬† ¬†I know , I know, I know why you didn’t: ¬†bloody coroner’s file,¬†four copies of everything, and a folder thicker than yan o’ them girt big family bibles!”

Obviously not the Border Collie in the novel but a lovely, venerable old lass, none-the-less.

Well, you have a good point, Peter, but while I have deliberately avoided writing about the true facts of any crimes and real criminals¬†in my novel, I have leaned on some¬†true experiences I had during my police career which cannot possibly be seen as defamatory to anybody.¬† So¬†— albeit sad — this incident of a¬†Border Collie¬†being killed by a drunk driver¬†on a pedestrian crossing the first time the dog ever¬†failed to wait on the kerb for its owner before starting to cross the road,¬†really did happen.¬† The only things I changed were the name of the owner,¬†the breed of dog, the town where it happened and all circumstances pertaining to the car and driver involved.

The sad bits, the trip to the vets and all that:¬†All¬†true.¬† The old man having previously lost all the members of his family:¬†True, but not quite as described.¬† My subsequent efforts to ‘con’ him into taking a young boxer that we then had in the police¬†kennels at that time: Yes, successfully true, and even though the dog was a bit too boisterous for a man of his age and did tend to pull him along when they were out for a walk, the old chap always did have a smile on his face.¬† In the nicest sense, I have always hoped that¬†the dog outlived him;¬†the man whom¬†I renamed ‘Max’ in the book¬†had been through¬†far more than his life’s¬†share of sadness.

Steve Shearwater



Anybody wanting translations of the dialect words used by Peter Reece, above, please use the dialect glossary.

When my first novel — My Cup Runneth Over — was published, in November 2016, my biggest fear was what the opinions of my former police colleagues might be.¬† I certainly knew they had the capacity to be my fiercest critics if my writing was not to their liking.¬† To my delight and relief, that has not proved to be the case.¬† You may read their thoughts here.

Tens of Thousands of Road Deaths Prevented by the British Police are Never Mentioned!

Here’s a¬†very serious¬†question for you.¬† Given that in Britain a police officer’s oath includes “the protection of life and property” and in America the police role is “to protect and serve” (my italics),¬†and given that throughout the developed world far, far more human lives are lost in road crashes than in murders, why, oh why, are¬†massive police contributions to countless saved lives on the roads not even¬†known about, let alone discussed and¬†praised?

.                                                 Hartside Pass. Early 1970s. (Photo: Cumbria Police)

It is, of course, a grim reality that the¬†tragic death of a loved one is exactly that — a heartbreaking¬†tragedy.¬† It would perhaps be simplistic to say the cause of any such¬†loss is not relevant, of course it is, but the over-riding grief comes from the¬†unbearable fact that a family member or dear friend is gone.¬† (Every police officer who has delivered a ‘death message’ to an unsuspecting family has had to do¬†one of the worst tasks on the planet.)

At this point, it becomes important to know a little about how¬†the key aspects of effective crash and casualty prevention operate.¬† For many years, road safety has been based upon a set of ‘E’ words, of which the key ones are:

  • Education (teaching safety to young people¬†in¬†particular, accurately)
  • Engineering (both better-designed roads and better-made vehicles)
  • Enforcement (to discourage the use or repetition of dangerous factors)
  • Emergency (preventing secondary collisions at the crash site, freeing trapped victims and swift removal of the seriously-injured¬†to hospital)
  • Evaluation (by empirical research; what really works and what is myth?)

The first three items in the above list were the original “Three E’s” and each of these, if done appropriately and comprehensively, is capable of saving many lives, and in most of the¬†developed nations this has happened on a very large scale.

(The current ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety’, 2011-2020, which sadly most people are still unaware of, is based upon the slightly different ‘Pillars’ of the task but that¬†does not¬†affect this article.)

Over the last 30-40 years, the most¬†regular ‘leaders’ in this race to cut the number of road deaths have repeatedly been Sweden and Great Britain.¬† Indeed, since I first joined the police in the early 1970s the number of people killed each year on Britain’s roads alone has fallen by about three-quarters,¬†from around 7,500 to below 2,000, despite the fact that there are now many times more vehicles on the road.¬† What proportion of this huge lifesaving success has been due specifically to police¬†enforcement (or to¬†education, or engineering)?¬† That is impossible to say, primarily because most crashes have multiple causative factors, but research shows that¬†all three disciplines¬†have been crucial in this¬†stunning improvement.

One truly excellent example of the success of two of these¬†factors (education and enforcement) working together¬†can easily be seen in the way that drink driving is now dramatically less-common in Britain and therefore kills far fewer people than it did¬†in the 1960s and 70s¬†when the “Don’t Drink and Drive” message first appeared in television and radio¬†advertisements.¬†Since then, of course,¬†the police have arrested hundreds of thousands of unthinking drivers for risking other people’s lives.¬† The most telling evidence of the overall¬†success comes¬†in the form of public perception and¬†the fact that while decades ago it was seen as fairly harmless to have a few drinks and then drive home,¬†people’s attitude¬†is generally¬†now¬†the opposite… anyone who drinks and drives is a pariah.¬† The education aspect about drink-driving¬†is almost complete but of course this is only one of many causes of fatal road crashes.

That brings me to the three final points of this post:

Firstly, I would suggest that while many people have venomously criticised traffic patrol police officers over the years, those officers are lifesavers — it’s as simple as that.¬† There is no such thing as “pointless speeding tickets,” blah, blah, blah.

Secondly, throughout the last 100 years or so, the number of road deaths in Britain each year¬†has vastly exceeded the number of murders — though less-so nowadays since the huge successes in cutting those road deaths — so if reducing unnecessary deaths is important to society, it is obvious where the greatest efforts need to be focused.

Finally and distressingly, however, we all know that what are now called Roads Policing Units around the UK have been decimated by financial cutbacks.  What most people still do not know is that not only has the rate of continued improvement in reducing road deaths now evaporated, specifically due to the financial cutbacks in question, but the trend in the annual numbers of road deaths is actually on the increase once more.  And research has now proved the dare-I-say very obvious link to reduced enforcement!

The¬†inspiration for me to write this piece¬†came from the advert for¬†this episode of the BBC ‘Crimewatch’¬†television programme, about crime on the roads and¬†“the devastating impact of dangerous driving,” a¬†danger that can only be reduced by having an adequate number of¬†highly-trained officers out there patrolling the roads and saving yet more lives by doing so!

‘Steve Shearwater’



Copyright, 16 March 2017, Eddie Wren (alias author¬†‘Steve Shearwater’)

Help with UK police jargon & Cumbrian dialect words, for overseas readers

It was obvious from the outset that I couldn’t write an accurate police story without using the appropriate ‘period jargon’ and that similarly¬†my novel¬†couldn’t capture the fabulous aura and personality of the Cumbrian people without including¬†dialect speech.¬† But if these aspects might put off some¬†readers from outside Britain, don’t worry; help is literally at hand!

“Blues & Twos” – driving at speed, using the flashing blue lights and two-tone sirens (now multi-tone, but the nickname persists)

Simply have your laptop, tablet or smartphone handy when you are reading and if you find any confusing words or phrases click on the tabs at the top of each page of the website, for either — unsurprisingly — ‘Police Jargon’ or ‘Dialect’, and your confusion will disappear!¬† (And if it doesn’t, please tell me and I’ll fire the person who wrote this!!!¬†ūüôā )

Steve Shearwater

Jeremy Paxman acknowledges the difference in risk to rural police officers versus their urban colleagues

Well-known commentator Jeremy Paxman, in an article in the Financial Times, accurately wrote:¬† [Metropolitan police officers] “consider themselves fortunate that, in central London, back-up can be with them inside a minute or so. Police officers patrolling county towns on a weekend night are much more exposed.”

My own comment:¬† As was the case for many, many of my colleagues back¬†in the 1970s and 80s, I recall occasions when I had to wait¬†15 minutes or more¬†for the ‘urgent assistance’ I had requested for the violent situations I was dealing with, alone.¬† It was accepted as being part of our job, and in rural areas I suspect that the situation is now even worse, given the reduction in officer numbers and the closure of many small-town police stations over recent years.¬† At times, rural policing can be very far from the idyllic job it might appear to be.¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†Steve Shearwater

If you’re an FT subscriber, you can read the full, Paxman¬†article here.

Fellow Police Officers’ Opinions of my Police Novel

First posted: 1 March, 2017

If I had trepidation when my police novel ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ was first published almost four months ago — and believe me I did —¬†I can guarantee that¬†at least¬†90 per cent of that¬†worry¬†was the fear about what my former police colleagues would make of it!¬† I had no doubt whatsoever that they could¬†potentially become my fiercest critics.¬† It seems to be a result of the job, or perhaps a qualification for it, that police officers can be both critical by nature and never shy to voice their opinion.¬† (Don’t tell them I said that ūüėÄ )

Cumbria Constabulary 'day' helmet (night helmets have or had a black badge and crown to make them a little less conspicuous)
Cumbria Constabulary ‘day’ helmet (night helmets have or had a black badge and crown to make them a little less conspicuous)

Buy a copy of the book (also available on Kindle)

We all know that novels must typically omit boring routine and thus condense action into a far shorter time span than that¬†in which¬†it¬†will probably¬†occur in reality, and also¬†that at least some¬†exaggeration is equally essential in order to maintain a good story.¬† In this sense, the enjoyable Inspector Morse television series always made me laugh:¬† Not only did Morse and Lewis deal with murders in Oxford at a rate that would have represented a national epidemic of homicides, let alone in such a relatively nice city, but¬†those two men inevitably solved the crimes with little assistance in what would inevitably have been scenarios involving dozens and maybe sometimes hundreds of officers.¬† And they achieved it within the duration of one or at most two television episodes, too, instead of sometimes needing¬†months of graft.¬† Oh, and Morse’s reluctance to reveal his first name was farcical — it would have to be used on every report and statement he ever wrote, let alone announced each time he gave evidence in court — but it made for a good story.¬† Yet addressing¬†that ‘willing suspension of disbelief’¬†by¬†readers¬†is part of¬†how popular stories are written.

Anyway, just as I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the comments all¬†people have made about my novel, so I have been stunned by the great reception it has received from those ‘dreaded’ police officers!¬† I’m not a fan of repetition but this aspect to me is so special that here are¬†highlights of¬†their reviews to date (oldest first):


13 December 2016, Mr M.A. Johnston: “A brilliantly written book… The book is written, and reads, very much along the lines of the James Herriot books, and in my view is equally as well written and laid out… ¬†if you only buy one book to read this Christmas make it this one. You won‚Äôt be disappointed.

16 December 2016, James Wilson:¬† “I sat and read [your book] in one sitting, really enjoyed it.¬† Rural policing as it should be.¬† Looking forward to the next installment‚Ķ


5 January 2017, Cliff Heaney (retired sergeant): “I have just completed the last few chapters of your book My Cup Runneth Over and felt compelled to let you know how much I enjoyed reading it.¬†¬† As a retired police officer myself from that era it felt like I had been transported back in time. It was as if¬†I was stood there beside you at some of the incidents and events you describe.
The highs and lows of policing do leave their mark on the people you deal with and the individual officers themselves. To my mind you have done an excellent job telling the stories the way you have, that in turn create the memories that an old copper like me can relate too. Thank you for that and good luck with the book. I’ll be on the look out for your next one!

5 January 2017, John Forrester:¬†¬†“I‚Äôm enjoying every word.” – and, (in response to the above from Cliff Heaney)¬†‚ÄúI echo the same sentiment, as a retired sergeant [myself]. I‚Äôm also on the last couple of chapters and can relate to the incidents etc. A riveting read.‚Ä̬†

7 January 2017, John Thorburn:¬† “I thought it was brill‚Äô, a little rumour, a little true life and lots of fun as we had in those days‚Ķ

24 January 2017, Dick Base:¬† “Good read, My Cup Runneth Over… It has certainly made me reminisce.

Alan Gardner:¬† “I have just finished reading your book and thoroughly enjoyed it. ¬†I have for some time been writing a few stories that jumped to mind about my own time in the police. mainly for my grandchildren to read‚Ķ Have to say however, that I‚Äôm not in the same writing league as you‚Ķ

Peter Lilley:¬† ‚ÄúJust wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your book.¬† My father, Jack Lilley,¬†was inspector at Keswick from¬†1959 until his death in 1967, during which time we lived at the police station.¬† Your stories brought many happy memories of accompanying my father on his frequent visits to outlying farms and his regular weekly ‚Äėpoints‚Äô with the village bobbies. ¬†It was great fun trying to identify the locations used in your yarns!¬† Dad was also a member of Keswick Mountain Rescue Team ‚Äď all your tales of the goings on and local events rang so true!¬† When‚Äôs the next book due out?¬† Can‚Äôt wait!‚Ä̬†

26 January 2017, David Mayer [USA]:¬† “Very good book and easy to read.¬† I would recommend this to anyone, it‚Äôs a good insight to the policing in a rural place in the Lake District, very funny with some of the stories. Well done Steve.”

11 February 2017, Keith Meadley:¬† “‚ĶVery good, keep it up with the next one.

13 February 2017, David Drinkald:¬† “As a retired Police Officer… I found this an enjoyable read.¬†¬† As in any fictional account of Police activity events are exaggerated, however there is nothing here that couldn‚Äôt have happened, probably not involving just the leading character however… I hope the author gets round to writing a follow up.¬† I started reading one of the novels that led to the Heartbeat T.V. series years ago.¬† My Cup Runneth Over is much better…”

23 February 2017, Tony Cleasby:¬† “I enjoyed your novel ‘My Cup Runneth Over’. ¬†Any more books in the pipeline?”

1 March 2017, David Albert:¬† “I enjoyed every page. Recognised myself a few times, ha ha.

8 March 2017, Andy Soper:¬† “…Picture the scene‚Ķ it‚Äôs a late night flight and my seat is in the middle of a Boeing 737!¬† It‚Äôs dark, it‚Äôs quiet and I get to the chapter in the book dealing with the unfortunate Wodger Wankin! [For my laughing out loud,] I certainly received a couple of very good ‘thwacks’ from the missus sitting next to me!¬† As a retired Cumbria Constable and a Rural Officer to boot, this book brought it all flooding back!¬†… This is a very, very enjoyable read and I look forward to the next one.”

14 March 2017, Mark Jenkins:¬† “Just read the book on holiday on Kindle. A cracking read.”

28 March 2017,¬†Martin Buckmaster:¬† “I’ve just finished your wonderful book. I enjoyed every page as it brought back lots of memories from years ago when I lived at Fieldhead near Hawkshead… The book is amazing, thank you so much for writing it. Will there be any more? I do hope so, you’re¬†a fantastic author.”

29 Mar. 2017,¬†also Martin Buckmaster: A beautiful book very well written¬† This book is truly amazing in its accuracy and descriptions. ¬†I loved every page as I found that it brought back an awful lot of memories from the early days of my own Police service in the mid sixtees.¬† I admit struggling with some of the place names having lived and worked for many years¬†in the southern Lake District and I still haven’t got there yet.¬† A lovely, gentle story line that held me totally in it’s grip for the entire book, I sincerely hope that we will see some more books as good as this one is.¬† I highly recommend this book to everyone, thank you Steve.¬†

2 April 2017,¬†¬†Heather Wilkinson “Dad [former Chief Superintendent Eric Greenslade] said that¬†your¬†book¬†took him back to the old days, he loved it.

28 June 2017, Roger Salmon¬† “Just finished your book ‘My cup runneth over’. Thoroughly enjoyed it and brought back memories of my cadetship and early years. When is the next book out please?

Buy a copy of the book (also available on Kindle)


Here is a¬†full list of all readers’ opinions I have received so far — with none left out! ūüôā