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The Outsider: The Autobiography of One of Britain's Most Controversial Policemen [Paperback]

Keith Hellawell
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 July 2003

The tough life of one of Britain's most senior policemen, who rose through the ranks from poverty and deprivation to the highest office, and went on to become Blair’s ‘Drug Czar’.

An abused, unwanted, squint-eyed boy, Keith Hellawell never knew who his real father was. His mother, a club dancer, was always bringing home different men, and would tie him to the table-leg to keep him quiet. He fought at school and went down the pit. It was a hard-bitten, inauspicious start for a man who was eventually to become Chief Constable of Cleveland, and then West Yorkshire, and later, controversially, New Labour's much-feted and summarily dismissed 'Drugs Tsar'.

In his autobiography he writes candidly about four decades of public service. He lifts the veil on police brutality, corruption and abuse of power. He chronicles the rise in terrorism, public disorder, drug abuse and criminality. He discusses the childishness and insecurity of politicians and civil servants. He deals with the issues of racism, sexism and political correctness, and provides a rare insight into the workings of the judiciary, royalty and the establishment. And he chronicles the often lonely challenges of dealing with the likes of Peter Sutcliffe in a police career that took him everywhere from Northern Ireland to Hollywood.

The Outsider is the autobiography of a man of absolute integrity fired by the determination to better not only his own lot, but that of other humans as well, and to change things from the inside.



Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; New Ed edition (7 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007145551
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007145553
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 483,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Here is a man of intellect, probity, progressive ideas and the energy to carry them through, who spent his working life in the two most rigid, conservative and autocratic organisations in the country-the police force and the civil service. He was surrounded by petty, jealous colleagues, many of whom were out to get him. Yet he lasted forty years. Perhaps a better title for this riveting tale of his life would have been The Survivor'
–Phillip Knightley, Sunday Times

'How he came to be on the wrong end of a Labour kicking is only a small part of the autobiography. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book is the changing nature of policing since the 1960s, when crime was far lower and villains were regularly given a good hiding. Hellawell has some insights about the future of policing that the Home Secretary would do well to contemplate'
–Philip Johnston, Daily Telegraph

'Hellawell's gift for the controversial quote made him the best-known policeman of his generation. His autobiography will cement that reputation'
–Glasgow Herald

From the Back Cover

An abused, unwanted, squint-eyed boy, Keith Hellawell never knew who his real father was. His mother, a club dancer, was always bringing home different men, and would tie him to the table-leg to keep him quiet. He fought at school and went down the pit. It was a hard-bitten, inauspicious start for a man who was eventually to become Chief Constable of Cleveland, and then West Yorkshire, and later, controversially, New Labour's much-feted and summarily dismissed 'Drugs Czar'.

In his autobiography he writes candidly about four decades of public service. He lifts the veil on police brutality, corruption and abuse of power. He chronicles the rise in terrorism, public disorder, drug abuse and criminality. He discusses the childishness and insecurity of politicians and civil servants. He deals with the issues of racism, sexism and political correctness, and provides a rare insight into the workings of the judiciary, royalty and the establishment. And he chronicles the often lonely challenges of dealing with the likes of Peter Sutcliffe in a police career that took him everywhere from Northern Ireland to Hollywood.

The Outsider is the autobiography of a man of absolute integrity fired by the determination to better not only his own lot, but that of other humans as well, and to change things from the inside.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful 16 Dec 2002
Format:Hardcover
This is a truly wonderful read giving insight at every turn of Keith Hellawell's highly varied and interesting career.
Written himself rather than ghost written, the account is chronological, with each chapter merging seamlessly to the last. What comes shining through is Hellawell's ability throughout his life to say something 'as it is' and to have the principles to stand up for what he believes in. From his early tough background in the North of England through his early career as a miner, he takes us on a journey through each event that gave his life direction. In this way, the book does not become bogged down with unnecessary detail.
Joining the police force in the early 60's he was able through his own beliefs to largely (though he admits not entirely) resist the culture of corrupt policing that was rife in the force at this time. He is nothing if not honest about his own shortcomings allowing the reader to decide upon the stronger elements of his character. He also highlights how draconian some of the rules for policemen were at this time (needing permission to marry and having his future wife interviewed by his boss is a good example) and how he tried to change some of these rules as he relatively quickly made the rank of Chief Constable. The book also details to some degree his interviews with the convicted Yorkshire ripper, Peter Sutcliffe.
Hellawell pulls no punches in this account and you are left with the impression of a highly skilful and principled man. One of the gems in this book is the backbiting and petty jealousies of civil servants and cabinet ministers, in later chapters after he became the much-heralded drugs tsar. You will be surprised at how childish some of them can be.
In summary, this is as fine an autobiography as I have read in many years. A wonderful account of a fine man and highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Autobiography 4 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anyone with a reasonable knowledge of the police service will quickly realise that this was written by a well motivated ambitious man. He came from humble beginnings and reached the top. It illustrates how motivation and success can cause jealousy and turn people into enemies just by doing your job. It was not all smooth running for Keith and he tells of a medical condition, and describes how one of his sons fell foul of the police recruitment system. A real insight into the life of a career policeman, highly recommended. I hope he writes again.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A really Good Read 2 Jan 2011
By Steve G
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A fascinating insight to the Career of a senior police officer. Even though I have hundreds of books at home I often find it difficult to keep my attention to the final chapter. Not so with this well written book. As a serving police officer I shared many of his views and, as I spent 3 years in Huddersfield in the late eighties I could also feel some of the community spirit that he worked through.

The penultimate chapter on "looking Ahead" is still as relevant today. Unfortunatley, political interference will be getting worse in the near future and there is still very little to reduce bureaucracy on the front line.Keith Hellawell exposes his support of front line policing and gives a view that police ranks need to be "flattened out". This, for me, was quite an inspiring read.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly candid 2 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback
Hellawell has written an apparently candid account of his policing career. The highlights are his role as the government's 'Drugs Czar' which was wholly dysfunctional due to the poor control by political and civil servant leaders. He was honest in his self analysis of what rising to the top cost in terms of his personal life - eg. he wasn't there while his children were growing up. However, he seemed slightly less reflective in his professional role, albeit there were glimpses of vanity, not uncommon for a high achiever. Overall a good book, lacking in action granted but compensated for in terms of the nexus between politics and policing.
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