Low Use of Firearms by British Police — Long May it Continue


‘What can US trigger-happy cops learn from Britain’s gunless police?’ — The Independent, June 2015

American police kill the same number of people with guns in a day that UK officers do in a year. Griff Witte, an American Washington Post reporter working in London, reports…

In a country where the vast majority of police officers patrol with batons and pepper spray, the elite cadre of British cops who are entrusted with guns almost never use them. Police in Britain have fatally shot two people in the past three years.

That’s less than the average number of people shot and killed by police every day in the United States over the first five months of 2015, according to a Washington Post analysis.

As the United States reckons with that toll — and with the constant drip of videos showing the questionable use of force by officers — lightly armed Britain might seem an unorthodox place to look for solutions. But experts say the way British bobbies are trained, commanded and vigorously scrutinized may offer US police forces a useful blueprint for bringing down the rate of deadly violence and defusing some of the burning tension felt in cities from coast to coast… (Read the full article.)


An August 2014 article, from PRI

In 2012, 409 people were shot and killed by American police in what were termed justifiable shootings. In that same year, British police officers fired their weapons just once. No one was killed.

In 2013, British police officers fired their weapons all of three times. No one died.  According to The Economist, “British citizens are around 100 times less likely to be shot by a police officer than Americans. Between 2010 and 2014, the police force of one small American city — Albuquerque in New Mexico — shot and killed 23 civilians; seven times more than the number of Brits killed by all of England and Wales’s police 43 forces during the same period….  (Read the full article.)


An August 2014 article — ‘Trigger Happy’ — from The Economist

Civilians — innocent or guilty — are far more likely to be shot by police in America than in any other rich country.  In 2012, according to data compiled by the FBI, 410 Americans were “justifiably” killed by police—409 with guns. That figure may well be an underestimate. Not only is it limited to the number of people who were shot while committing a crime, but also, amazingly, reporting the data is voluntary…

[In Britain], the last time a British police officer was killed by a firearm on duty was in 2012, in a brutal case in Manchester. The annual number of murders by shooting is typically less than 50… In America, by contrast, it is hardly surprising that cops resort to their weapons more frequently. In 2013, 30 cops were shot and killed—just a fraction of the 9,000 or so murders using guns that happen each year. Add to that a hyper-militarised police culture and a deep history of racial strife and you have the reason why so many civilians are shot by police officers. Unless America can either reduce its colossal gun ownership rates or fix its deep social problems, shootings of civilians by police—justified or not—seem sure to continue…  (Read the full article.)



A new dialect list for agricultural and farming words in Cumbria. Would you like to help?

As a young police officer who quite often had to deal with farmers in order to enforce such as the stock movement laws designed to minimise risks from livestock diseases such as foot and mouth (USA: ‘hoof and mouth’), I was frequently faced with solid dialect speech.  Having been born and raised in the Lake District, and having worked as a lad on several farms during school holidays, I wasn’t troubled by the dialect — indeed, I loved it — but sadly this delightful aspect of our Cumbrian culture has been fading for decades.  This has given me a determination to preserve at least some bits of it in my writing.

A lot of my long-term and new-found friends in various Cumbrian groups within Facebook have contributed a lot to the now-growing list of general dialect words on the steveshearwater.co.uk website and it has been so successful that I’m now asking for everyone’s help with a list of specifically farming-related dialect words, which I think may be unique once it’s created in sufficient depth.

Many agricultural words undoubtedly are found across larger areas than just our county of Cumbria so their inclusion in the imminent list may be short-term until we establish for certain whether they are unique to the dialect or not.  Also included will be dialect/regional words for features found in the ‘statesman farmer’ type of houses that were built here in the 18th Century and for other types of farm buildings.

If you want to participate and suggest some agricultural dialect words please reply to this message on Facebook or submit your answers on a ‘Reply’ within this message on the steveshearwater.co.uk  website.

Finally, on the shearwater website there is now the facility for readers to ‘like’ individual pages and posts so I would be very grateful if you would click the ‘Like’ buttons at the bottom of any pages you approve of.  (There are also buttons allowing you to ‘share’ those pages straight to Facebook, Twitter or Google+, so please feel free to use those, too, if you wish.

One last thing, if you want to help with the creation of this presumably unique list, you will have to do well to beat the West Cumbrians because they submitted far, far more suggestions than everyone else combined, for the general list.  Come on, everyone else in Cumbria…. or will you let them win hands down, once again? !!! 😀

‘Book Review of the Week’ and a Christmas Recommendation from ‘Susie’

I have been genuinely stunned by the delightful consistency of readers’ opinions of my novel ‘My Cup Runneth Over’. Indeed, at present it holds an average rating of 4.8 stars out of 5 – 96% – at Amazon!  Much of the time it is hard for me to pick any one reader’s comment from another in terms of their ‘gratification rating’ to me as the author, but I have to say that so far this week I have to put this one from Amazon’s UK website at the top of my list:

If you only buy one book this year – make sure it’s this one!                 Steve Shearwater’s delightful pen transported me straight back to my Cumbrian childhood – a time of community when the village ‘bobby’ was both feared and revered.

The RAC rally, local lock-ins, familiar dialect and places – so evocative of a time that I probably remember through very rose tinted specs!

I read this in a single day, curled up by the woodburner with copious mugs of tea and the rain battering on the window. Getting lost in the tale of the young Cumbrian constable was easy, Steve’s writing style makes for a page turning read which evoked such powerful memories I didn’t want to reach the final page.

As a child I loved watching Dixon Of Dock Green, [and] My Cup Runneth Over shares a similar dialogue. It’s comforting yet confronting, set against a backdrop of none politically correct policing, when the ‘baddies’ got a ‘clout’ , the bereaved a cuppa and the community noticed when something was awry, even if it resulted in an unsuspecting, ailing OAP getting a rude awakening.

To be truthful, I initially bought this book because of its era and setting. I’m so glad I did. My partner (a non Cumbrian) read it too, proclaiming it a ‘feel good, comfort blanket of a read’.

Steve you’ve nailed it. Just ordering some paper copies to pop into various Christmas stockings. I suspect it could be a very quiet, nose-in-book festive this year.

If you only buy one book this Christmas make sure it’s this one!”


To read all of the reviews at Amazon, please click here.

Characters of Cumbria’s Most Famous Writers

Mention Cumbria in the literary sense and most people will think of William Wordsworth, and perhaps Beatrix Potter.
But Potter’s Peter Rabbit and Mrs Tiggywinkle aren’t the only world-famous protagonists to emerge from Cumbria. We have other heavyweights, too, such as Thomas the Tank Engine!
What do you mean, you didn’t know that Sodor was just an enlarged version of Walney Island, at Barrow-in-Furness?
See: http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-13872542
And then there’s Postman Pat, a story set in the fictional village of Greendale (inspired by the real valley of Longsleddale, near Kendal).
Famous protagonists? We have truck-loads of them…. It’s just that they’re very small trucks! 🙂  

The first book,’My Cup Runneth Over’, is now AVAILABLE via Amazon and Kindle

My Cup Runneth Over officially went on sale yesterday, 11 November 2016, via both Amazon and Kindle.

You can find information about the book via ‘The Individual Titles’ on the main Menu/Index bar.

There is also now a Reader Feedback page specifically for this book.  Visit it and see what readers are saying!

Excerpt from Ch.3 of ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ — The Copper-bottomed Pan

As a little ‘taster’ from the first book in the Cumbria Police Novels series, here is an excerpt about a domestic dispute:

“We arrived in less than five minutes and found Sergeant Clarke already there, standing beside the police van, clearly entertained by the loud fracas that could be heard from inside the house.

‘How many more men are you going to screw around with while you’re meant to be my wife?’ bellowed the man.

‘What are you complaining for?’ the woman screamed back. ‘At least I get paid for it. At least it means that I bring a damned sight more money home than you, you bone-idle lump. And what little you make you pour back down your neck at the bar in the Labour Club!’

The crashing and yells hit a new pitch while we were going up the path to the front door.

‘Let me go first,’ said Carol. ‘They know me. But mind yourselves, they can be unpredictable.’

The door wasn’t locked. We walked straight in after knocking just once. The sight as we entered the kitchen was something to behold. At the far side of a small pine table, in the middle of the floor, was Mrs Smith. She was wearing an unfastened synthetic fur coat over a grubby, rather short old nightdress, curlers in her hair, cigarette drooping from the corner of her mouth, and she was brandishing a battered but large copper-bottomed saucepan in her right hand.

At our side of the table, stark naked and wielding nothing but a small wooden spoon by way of feeble self-defence was the overweight Mr Smith, facing his fearsome wife and clearly more than a little bit apprehensive. Three chairs lay on their sides on the floor, one of them minus a leg, which was lying broken alongside it.

The bold Sally never took a blind bit of notice that there were now three police officers in her house but instead just flung the pan as hard as she could at her husband, even though we were standing behind him. He dodged left, Carol dodged right and I had time to duck, but poor Kevin, who was still in the kitchen doorway unable to see exactly what was going on, took it square in the middle of his forehead and went down as though he’d been shot. For what seemed like ages we all just stood there in total silence, staring at the motionless form lying in the hallway.

Then Sergeant Clarke said ‘Right, Sally, you’ve done it this time. I’m arresting you for assaulting a police officer.’

As Carol cautioned and handcuffed Mrs Smith, I checked that Kevin was still breathing. Thank God he was. I rolled him over into the recovery position and then ran to the van and used the VHF radio to tell the force control room what had happened and I requested an ambulance…..”

As Armistice Day Gets Closer: Remembrance for Police Officers Killed on Duty

In our beautiful county of Cumbria, home to the most-visited national park in the world, it is easy to forget that being a police officer can be a deadly affair. Since policing began here, in the early 19th Century, at least 17 police officers have been killed in the line of duty.  With Remembrance Day imminent, I think this is a good time to post the following link to the Roll of Honour for fallen Cumbria Police Officers.

This next link will take you to the National Roll of Honour.