Steve Woodward was a Police officer with the Hampshire Constabulary from 1975 to 2008. Steve has written four books so far about his experiences whilst in ‘the job’.

His first book ‘From T Ford to T5’ is the definitive reference book on the history of the vehicles used by Hampshire Police.

The second book ‘Kilo Sierra Five One charts his first 10 years in the Police and how he nearly got thrown out because he didn’t measure up. It will make you laugh and cry out loud as he deals with the locals of his adopted city of Portsmouth.

His third book ‘The Long Short Walk’ dealt with his role as a Traffic Police Family Liaison Officer and is a hard-hitting diary looking at 16 real life cases and the harrowing journey that each family has to contend with following the death of a loved one in a road incident.

His latest book ‘Stand By Ya Beds’ (Life as a 1970s Police Cadet) takes us way back to the mid-1970s when Steve joined the Police Cadets at the tender age of 16. During this time he spent the first 12 months at a residential training school where physical training and self-discipline were drummed into him by instructors, who by today’s more enlightened standards would probably see them being accused of bullying. But Steve and his 65 colleagues loved every minute of it… Except for the morning run, the constant uniform inspections, the walks across Dartmoor, punishment press-ups, bulling boots, the food, the blisters and making bed packs.

The book delves into the history of the Police Cadet scheme both nationally and within Hampshire. It then morphs into Steve’s own experiences whilst based at the training school. It is followed by a further 12 months at his local police station seeing at first-hand how each department within the service worked. Its hard to imagine in this day and age that teenagers once patrolled our streets in full police uniform, from the 1950s through to the 1980s.

It s something we all dread; the knock at the door from a Traffic Cop.

We instantly fear the worst and for more than 3,000 families every year in Britain that fear sadly becomes a reality. The Police officer has come to deliver the news that their loved one has died in a road incident.

But what happens after they have been told? Does the Police officer simply walk away? Is the family left to fend for itself? Thankfully not. A small group of specially trained Police Family Liaison Officers (FLO s) do what most of us could never do. They guide the bereaved family through the entire process, from delivering the trauma message in the first place, to helping them through the ordeal of identifying their loved one at the mortuary, right through to the inquest or court case in 12 months time and everything in between. PC Steve Woodward describes the journey the families embark upon as the biggest roller coaster ride of their lives with more highs and lows than you could ever possibly imagine.

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From around the 1950s to the mid-1980s, if you wanted to join the Police before the age of 18/19, it was possible to become a Police Cadet from 16 onwards. It didn’t give you any police powers but did provide you with a good insight into ‘the job’. You got the uniform and went out on patrol with regular officers and undertook attachments to every section within the force to see how each one worked.

But prior to all the excitement came 12 months of ‘character building’ at a residential establishment called Cadet Training School. This book looks back at those days within Hampshire and to a time where self-discipline and physical fitness were key to that character building. Today it might be classed as institutional bullying, but most of us loved it……….except for the morning run, the constant uniform inspections, the walks across Dartmoor, punishment press-ups, bulling boots, the food, the blisters and making bed packs.

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Review by Ian Readhead, Deputy Chief Constable, Hampshire Constabulary.

“Stand By Ya Beds” is far more than an account by the author, Steve Woodward, of his experiences as a Police Cadet in the Hampshire Constabulary. It represents an historical account of a period, which for many of us saw the transition from school to entry into the regular force. Whilst some who never undertook those three years, often commented that cadets failed to experience a wider life, Steve manages to capture the breadth of activities that welded cadets together on a physical, cultural, community and friendship basis. For those of us who were there, it will bring back great memories of early uniform life, especially at Bishops Waltham Cadet Training School. Not only the disciplined regime, police officer trainers and characters, but also the huge opportunities we were given to participate in other activities. These ranged from Further Education, Community Service, Duke of Edinburgh Award, Outward Bound, Brockenhurst Camp, swimming qualifications, Voluntary Service Overseas, sports of all types, rock climbing and police attachments. The list goes on, and it will refresh many memories for the reader. Unbelievably we actually got paid for doing this!

Friendships and camaraderie were welded during this time, and for many have lasted to date. What is also interesting, is that most cadets stayed to perform thirty years’ service in the Hampshire Constabulary. As an investment, it secured regular staff who wanted the career of a Police Officer, not a transitional work experience which today sees so many leave the service after only a few years. At one stage, ex-Police Cadets represented 17% of the Force Establishment.

This book will bring back wonderful memories and perhaps a few challenging ones to the reader. I enjoyed every page and laughed at many of Steve’s experiences which mirrored my own. In writing “Stand By Ya Beds”, Steve has authored a book which will bring much pleasure, and records an important period in the history of the Hampshire Constabulary.

I salute him.

 

Ian Readhead OBE, QPM, LL.B (Hons)

Deputy Chief Constable

Hampshire Constabulary

1972 – 2008