Archive for the 'Joe Caslin + Hana Cooper' Category

Of Great Men

This is a story about Inspector Andrew Campbell. A man, who on an evening in early August when the air was damp and the sky the colour of a funeral, made a decision.

Campbell was behind the wheel of a stationary black Audi with Constable Reid. The two men, in their late forties with deep lines across their faces to prove it, had adopted a casual look for the evening; jeans, plain t-shirts, brown suede shoes. Waiting behind the Omni Centre, the policemen hoped they could return to their suburban homes before night pressed itself upon the ground, but Inspector Campbell knew they would have to wait until their victims had shown themselves. If not, there would be the Chief to answer to.

Earlier that day, the Chief was alerted to a conversation online, in which two gangs were arranging a fight. These meetings were growing frequent over the summer and trouble was spreading across the country like a virus, so the Chief wanted his army alert. The gangs were to be stopped, their players punished and leaders locked away. It was the Inspectors job to catch this gang and keep trouble out of this city.

Street lamps flickered but the men had chosen their spot carefully and were not illuminated under the beacons. All police had been cautious after the riots in London and the Inspector, with his newly acquired status as an ‘appropriate authorizing officer’, was armed and ready.

“What are we expecting tonight?” Reid asked.

“Hoodies, anger, golf clubs,” Campbell replied. Reid whitened. He knew of recent gang trouble and despite boasts at Saturday night dinner parties, Reid was scared.

“It’s the Muirhouse lot looking for a disco tonight. They’re angry about the Polish at the moment, apparently.”

“The Polish?”

“Aye, coming here, taking our jobs, living off our taxes. The usual.”

“Who you describing, Campbell? The Polish or the gangs?”



Forty minutes passed. Frequent nights were spent waiting for men to appear, full of promises that were never kept. As much as Campbell relished calm evenings without arrest, the recent sale of baseball bats and truncheons over the internet meant that he needed to deliver a thug into his Chiefs expectant arms.

The gangs arranged meetings through social networking sites, later changing the location via phone to avoid ‘the pigs’. Due to recent trouble in Tottenham, the Chief had posed as a newbie on the forums, discovering that this car-park was undoubtably the place.

“There,” Reid pointed. Campbell followed his finger to nine men at the the edge of the car-park. They were 250 yards away, huddling together to listen to one man. As they compared weapons, Campbell saw two golf clubs, a baseball bat, three knives and a truncheon.

It had been agreed that the men would call for back-up at the first sign of trouble, so Reid plugged the information into the radio. The Inspector instructed his Constable to watch the gang from the car as he patrolled the perimeters, hunting out any rival gangs.

He walked to the opposite side of the car-park, ensuring that he was not seen by the men in tracksuits. As he reached the corner fence, he saw a man in his early twenties creeping behind parked cars. Clad in a white tracksuit, he was crouching beside an empty estate car, watching the gang. Campbell squatted for a clearer view. He was short, with dark eyes, and Campbell decided that on a Dulux colour chart, his skin would be sultana spice.

The man weaved closer to the gang, alert. He moved gracefully, making it hard for Campbell to follow him through the night. His white tracksuit made him just about visible, but his hood clouded his face, so Campbell couldn’t watch his eyes.

They were now a few feet from the thugs. Campbell heard their angry voices puncturing the air, and with their plans finalized, it sounded like they were talking tactics. The man in the white hoodie was listening and Campbell thought he looked sad. As if he was already guilty for a crime he was about to commit.

One of the gang members looked towards them and Campbell panicked. His palms were sweating and the roof of his mouth felt like child’s play glue. He fingered the gun in his hand, believing in it, assuring himself of his safety. He wondered where their back-up was. It had been ten minutes.

Campbell was behind a small, blue Toyota. The hooded man was on the other side of the car, and Campbell saw through the windows that he was fingering something. The Inspector couldn’t identify the shape of the object, but from the way he was pointing it towards the gang, he could guess. In the distance, police sirens forced their way through traffic and towards the car-park. The noise alarmed the gang, and two of the youngest members ran. Their movement disturbed the man – he stood up sharply, announcing his presence. Time was running out.

The next thing Campbell could remember was Reid yelling at him to retreat and the hooded man turning to stare at him. Before he had time to run, the youth was next to him, shouting, with a menacing look in his eye. As he matched his opponent, Campbell saw the black object in the mans hand rise higher and point towards him. And then, without a flash, or even much of a bang, Campbell shot.


Billy Morrison’s death was reported on the news that night. A youth worker involved in rehabilitating gangs and recording violence around the city, he was mourned by family and friends. His picture graced TV screens for thirty-seconds as reporters analyzed the attitude of the public towards young men. They all failed to notice that Billy was wearing white. They said that his work had been changing the paths of young men and women and his death was an accident waiting to happen. The camera he was holding on the night he was shot had been recording the gang’s meeting. It was developed and used as an insight into changing the lives of troubled communities.

But this isn’t Billy’s story, because men like Billy dress a certain way and that triggers a reaction – or indeed a firearm. This is Inspector Campbell’s story. An Inspector who has been awarded for his bravery. An Inspector who will always be remembered as a hero. A good, decent, upholding citizen. A man with a title. A man with brown suede shoes.


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