Writing – The Journey (Blog Post No 4) – Mike Layton

‘Birmingham’s Front Line’ deals with my experiences as a detective in the West Midlands Police between 1976 and 1989. Much of that period covers my time spent working at police stations in and around Birmingham City Centre, in particular at Steelhouse Lane. The book is written in a chronological ‘diary-like’ manner and is entirely factual. Policing is in no way glorified but what shines through some of the more mundane elements of daily life is that officers routinely have to work in extremely challenging environments whilst at all times maintaining the highest standards in terms of ethics and integrity. The book also contains a number of fascinating recollections from other retired officers who tell it just how it was, sometimes serious but often tinged with humour. During these years I went from being a young fresh-faced attached CID officer, with long -side-burns,  who had to learn quickly, to becoming an established CID supervisor. I learnt the art of getting a ‘cough’ from the guilty, how to survive in the twilight and high-risk world of working with informants, and how to live with risk, adrenalin, sadness, violence, hope and no hope in equal measures. I invariably spent more time at work in the company of colleagues and criminals during those years than I did at home – family came second. Police bars, pubs, clubs, cigarette smoke, mortuary’s, post-mortems, hospitals, courts, interview rooms, HM Prisons, paperwork, cells, front doors closed and front doors removed from their hinges became common features of my life! Crime was relentless and the ‘war’ on it was also relentless. This was also a great period of social history and the police had to ‘up their game’ to meet the challenges of a changing society. When I reflect back on these years I feel a huge sense of pride for what was achieved – it was a great time to be a police officer – the job was full of democrats, autocrats, ‘blag artists’, adventurers, the not-so adventurous, steady pairs of hands, and those who stepped into danger fearlessly and did not falter when it came to confronting evil and violent behaviour. We were a family with all our faults but kept each other safe. ‘Birmingham’s Front Line’ deals with a number of serious crime investigations – not all of which were textbook in terms of outcomes. It was published by Amberley Publishers and is available in bookshops or on Amazon. It has six reviews with a score of 4.4 stars from a maximum of 5. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1445657872/ #Birmingham #WMP #Police #History


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