In brief

2nd July 2004 at 01:00
Safer School Communities By Andrew Briers Middlesex University Press. pound;12.

Every head has experienced police juvenile liaison projects of one sort or another - the concept has been with us, Andrew Briers explains, since 1949.

Though school liaison work hasn't been a good career move for a police officer.

This book uses the phrase "kiddie cops" as a precise description of the problem. The perception is of officers who have somehow opted out, perhaps as retirement beckons, to "avoid the typical macho roles of traditional police work, which encompass shift work, arresting villains and driving fast cars".

That, says the author - a serving police officer, once a teacher, who has expertise of police work in schools - is how it was. What his book describes is a substantial, effective and deeply embedded series of initiatives under the heading of the Safer School Partnership. These have involved the placing of police officers permanently in selected secondary schools. "This new role," he writes, "requires an altogether different calibre of officer."

Briers has no illusions about the challenges facing a school-based officer: he did the job for a time. It's not difficult to imagine the ways in which the child-centred inclinations of the teacher might clash with the traditional culture of the police force. There will be issues calling for the wisdom of Solomon, whereas in reality what you sometimes get are "incidents where a small minority of teachers have passed comments to officers, held trade union meetings, or delivered inflammatory literature about the work of the officer".

What's certain, though, is that the alarming rise in the number of violent crimes committed by young people makes it imperative that schools and police work together. There's no room for mistrust. Using his own experience, here and as a Fulbright scholar in the United States, Briers offers a reasoned analysis of when and how the police-school partnership can work.

The Golly in the Cupboard By Phil Frampton Tamic Publications. PO Box 182, Manchester M21 7XY; pound;7.99

Phil Frampton's story is of childhood abandonment, racism and a loveless upbringing in a Barnardo's home. Pieced together from his memories, supplemented by the 733-page personal file he eventually winkled out of Barnardo's in 1998, it's filled with heart-rending moments.

Most striking is the way Phil describes and understands the feelings of his mother, Mavis, as, in the mid-1950s, she gradually gave up her visits to the home, allowing herself to drift away from her once-loved child. In the end, there was no tearful parting. She just stopped coming. "Mavis would never return, would never face up to the final goodbye. Are not so many of us like that, so fearful of our emotions at the decisive hour that we pretend that the decisive hour has not arrived?" How right he is - it's the same weakness that makes us put off visiting a terminally ill friend, and his ability to identify it in his surely agonised mother is a measure of the quality of this dispassionately told but piercingly emotional story.

Emotions Revealed: understanding faces and feelings By Paul Ekman Wiedenfeld and Nicolson. pound;7.99

Charles Darwin once put his face against the thick glass of a puff-adder's cage in the zoo, determined not to flinch if it struck. However, "as soon as the blow was struck, my resolution went for nothing, and I jumped a yard or two backwards with astonishing rapidity".

As Paul Ekman tells us: "Darwin's experience shows how rational thought cannot prevent a fearful response to an innate fear theme." Ekman is fascinated by the network of relationships between emotion, rationality, body language and facial expression. It's a subject he's studied all over the world, making an intriguing collection of photographs. There's a shot of a disgusted looking man in New Guinea. The man had caught sight of Ekman eating American food straight from the tin. "I dropped my fork and raised the camera I always wore around my neck," he writes - the mark of a true anthropologist.

The book is more than just a recitation of the curiosities of human behaviour. Ekman believes that by learning to read the faces of the people we engage with we can improve the relationships that are essential to our lives. In pursuit of this, Ekman has developed a "subtle expression training tool" and a "micro expression training tool" to help people catch and interpret fleeting but important expressions. The book gives us a taste of these, and they're available in more detail on CD-Rom. For details, see Ekman's website:

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