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Customer Review

24 October 2017
Police transport enthusiasts would probably agree that their bookshelves are hardly groaning under the weight of publications dealing with vehicular law-enforcement. In stark contrast, aviation and rail aficionados require deep pockets to add to already full floorboard-straining bookcases. How wonderful it is then when a new title on police cars appears. Not quite as rare as the proverbial hen's tooth but certainly output rarely stretches to even one per annum.
'Police Stop!', from the pen of Paddy Carpenter (Chairman of the Police Vehicle Enthusiasts' Club), is quite simply a superb volume one really could wax lyrical about.
So what exactly lies beyond the arresting front cover? In short, almost 100 pages of police vehicle eye-candy that majors on the 4-decade or so period preceding the now omnipresent Battenburg marking. This is what might be termed the 'Golden Years' period when liveries were evolving and experimental, unique and force-specific, ghastly and attractive.
Following the book's Introduction and Acknowledgements there are two short chapters providing historical context. These are absolutely necessary and a smile is encouraged by the image on page 22 showing a police driver (I'm not sure what he's driving but, whatever it is, it looks a beast) exposed to the radio technology of the time. There's a look of concentration on his face for a reason!
The history pages, to be expected, include coverage of Panda markings and our history lesson concludes at page 33 with the introduction of the 'Jam Sandwich'. There are two lovely early colour images showing the then groundbreaking scheme on a Sussex Constabulary Mk2 Triumph and a Hertfordshire Hillman Hunter GT. The placing of these two images at the very end of this chapter is neat. Just above them the text concludes with the teaser to the remainder of the book - 'The Golden Age of British police vehicles would begin'.
And so, 34 pages in, opens Chapter 3. We're into the core of this publication now and from here on it gets sexy. Colour virtually all the way, with page after page showing the huge variety of livery across the years. It's a veritable smorgasbord. Traffic/Panda/Dog Unit/Vans - it's all here, and so is every one of the 43 Forces. Even for the police vehicle anoraks (yes, they do exist) there will likely be never-seen-before shots. And there's humour too. Grouping liveries into broad types allowed for some clever sub-titles - a banana split (?) ponders Carpenter when the red stripe becomes yellow and was it 'Capital Growth' when the Met broadened their stripes? How about the caption on page 78 showing a Lincolnshire Maestro with a small 'POLICE STOP' box mounted on the front bumper and projecting beyond it. What, indeed, was their survival rate?
Page 92 of this book is reached oh too soon. This far in 175 police vehicle images will have delighted your eyes but the conclusion of the book approaches. It might be a coincidence that the book's 'Golden Age' coverage stops at page 92 because it was in '92 that research into Battenburg first commenced. Introduction followed just a few years later and ever since the blue and yellow blocks have been marching to world domination (take a look at Sweden's police cars for example). That though is another story for another day when we'll perhaps be all dewy-eyed lamenting the loss of the cake-inspired markings. For individual livery the final curtain-call was not far away. And it is at this point this fabulous book ends. One Battenburg image only with the final word going to a Warwickshire big cat in that great twin red stripe marking. Lovely.
Summarising, 'Police Stop!' is a truly wonderful book. Using strong text and an abundance of colour imagery it achieves in spades what it sets out to do. It has all the makings of a first title in a series and I can't be alone in hoping the publisher sees things similarly. PSNI and Police Scotland (plus antecedents) for the next book? Or perhaps the others such as British Transport Police and Civil Nuclear Constabulary? Or even watercraft and aircraft? Maybe, just maybe, I should start thinking about strengthening those floorboards upon which my bookcases rest?
This book is exceptional value for money. Including front and rear covers you get 182 images. What's not to like?
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4.0 out of 5 stars