Book Reviews

David Porteous looks at a reform agenda for the police
and Oliver Russell on the impact of Asperger’s

Changing Policing: Revolution not Evolution

Michael O’Byrne, Russell House Publishing

£14.95, ISBN 1 903 855 00 4,

Michael O’Byrne is former chief constable of Bedfordshire police
and in this book he sets out, from a senior management perspective,
what he believes to be the main challenges facing the service as
well as his proposals for instituting change.

One of the strengths of the book is its accessibility and
clarity when describing the structure and organisation of policing.
This makes it a useful reference point for anyone, such as me, who
is unfamiliar with such details. It is also refreshingly critical
of the politicisation of the police force in the 1980s under
Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and in taking on
board the charge of institutional racism (as well as sexism and
homophobia) identified in the Macpherson report.

The book’s title is something of a misnomer; O’Byrne’s
“revolution” would involve restructuring the force into a smaller
number of regions (but only as part of a move toward regional
government), enhancing the powers of chief constables and, more
radically, introducing fast-tracking of (particularly black and
female) high-fliers into senior positions. Not quite a rally to
arms then, but a thoughtful and carefully argued reform agenda all
the same.

David Porteous is lecturer in applied social studies,
University of Luton.

An Asperger Marriage

Gisela and Christopher Slater-Walker, Jessica Kingsley

£12.95, ISBN 1 84310 0177

Gisela and Chris met at university 11 years ago while they were
both studying Russian. Gisela is nine years older than Chris. She
was divorced with three children. They set up home together and in
due course married and had a child of their own. But their
partnership was not all plain sailing. Misunderstandings frequently
arose and communication was made difficult by Chris’s extreme
passivity and his avoidance of eye contact.

Five years ago Gisela was given An Anthropologist on Mars by
Oliver Sacks in which there is a description of Temple Grandin, an
American academic who has Asperger’s syndrome. Gisela instantly
recognised that this description matched her husband’s behaviour.
Chris read the chapter himself and searched the internet for
further information. He diagnosed himself with Asperger’s syndrome.
Gisela then found a psychiatrist who examined Chris and confirmed
the diagnosis.

This fascinating book is a joint venture between Gisela and
Chris. They have each written frankly of their own perceptions of
their marriage and reflect with great sensitivity on the impact
which Asperger’s syndrome has had on their 12 years of living
together. It is likely to be of particular interest to those
involved in marital counselling.

Oliver Russell is honorary research fellow, Norah Fry
Research Centre.

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