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31/01/2020: BOOK REVIEW: London’s Armed Police: Up Close and Personal by Stephen Smith

I thought this was a great read, informative and written with the true authority of an insider. Stephen Smith's access to previously unseen photographic material, I think, is a revelation in demonstrating the difficult and often precarious role of armed police officers. Also, the accounts of the horrific acts conducted by terrorists in the last two years that proceeded the deployment of armed officers demonstrated that the faith in them is rightly placed to keep us safe at the potential expense of their own lives and our liberty.

The book is so insightful of many high-profile cases and is honest in directing criticism of shortcomings in police procedure. The author was very thoughtful in his tribute to Kurt Bechtel, a firearms innovator, who died tragically young. Profiling the modern SFO was informative and the evolution of the equipment and role of the ARV officer was also very insightful. The development of specialist assets such as the conflict intervention dogs, the use of motorcycles and marine operations demonstrate the broad aspect of threats that the UK faces. Stephen Smith’s style is concise and easy to read, measured in not dramatising the facts and not being ‘laddish’ in how he conveys stories as a true insider who has lived what he writes about. Certainly, being asked to read and review this book I would seek out his other work to read for pleasure. Highly recommended as a law and order read, and as a profile of a very niche but sadly growing element of British policing. Reviewed by B Lightbody on behalf of www.loveofbooks.co.uk for Pen and Sword History

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