John Arnold reviews 'The People’s Force: A History of Victoria Police' by Robert Haldane

John Arnold reviews 'The People’s Force: A History of Victoria Police' by Robert Haldane

The People’s Force: A history of Victoria Police

by Robert Haldane

Melbourne University Press, $49.99 pb, 544 pp, 9780522864953

Australians tend to have an ambivalent attitude to their respective police forces. We automatically expect that they will be there in an emergency. We share their grief when one of their number is killed while on duty, yet we regard Ned Kelly as a folk hero, even though he was responsible for the murder of three policemen in 1878. Many of us are affected either directly or indirectly by serious road accidents, yet we will curse under our breath the police officer who pulls us over for speeding or using our mobile phone while driving.

Robert Haldane was a career policeman. He retired in 2001 with the rank of superintendent after nearly thirty years in the force. While a constable, he undertook a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) followed by a PhD on the history of the Victorian police force, the genesis of the first (1985) and subsequent editions of this book. This new edition revises the text where appropriate and chronicles the twenty-one years since the second edition was published in 1996.

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Published in May 2018, no. 401
John Arnold

John Arnold

John Arnold recently retired from Monash University after twenty-three years with the National Centre for Australian Studies. He is an Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash. He was the co-editor (with John Hay) of the four-volume Bibliography of Australian Literature (2001–08) and author of The Fanfrolico Press: Satyrs, Fauns and Fine Books (2008). He edits the La Trobe Journal.