Book review: ‘A Long and Winding Beat!’

Adrian Kerton reviews Stoke Gifford councillor Brian Allinson’s new book about his fascinating career in the police … and a lot more besides.

Image of the cover of a book.
Front cover of the book ‘A Long and Winding Beat’ by Brian Allinson.

We are all used to seeing the police helicopters flying over us but probably don’t realise the early adoption of this valuable resource in our area was due to the efforts of Stoke Gifford councillor Brian Allinson during his fascinating career in the police. This book about his life is not just a tale about policing in rural Somerset, but also of his humble beginnings, where his single mum worked for the ‘big house’. It follows his progression to the role of superintendent at force headquarters and along the way having a job that most young men would have dreamed of, driving the very latest cars from Jaguar.

In his job as constable, he describes both the pride of dealing with the criminals, and the sadness of attending road traffic accidents and dealing with the vulnerable members of our society. Along the way, he reveals some of the tricks of the trade that may have been frowned upon, but allowed them to get on with the job and some of the peculiarities of the role, including having to ask permissions for what we would regard as everyday items of life, including the permission to get married!

Kitchen & Laundry Appliance Care.

“No mug? No tea!” The reader gets an interesting inside view of the various roles, the duties and responsibilities as he moves upwards through the ranks.

His foresight in pushing for the use of aerial surveillance was sparked by watching the crowds arriving at Glastonbury when he realised that the only way to understand what was happening was from the air. Despite being told to “stop this” in 1987, 1989 and 1990, Brian was given a tongue in cheek approval for not “stopping this”.


His involvement with aerial activities led to travel to the USA, China and Australia, where the brotherhood of the police officers across the world afforded Brian and his wife an insight into other lives which the ordinary tourist wouldn’t have.

Never afraid to speak his mind, he gave advice to the government that would have maintained the helicopter service when finances were under pressure, but sadly the advice wasn’t heeded.

• Copies of the book (RRP £11.99) are available from the Stoke Gifford Parish Council office, St Michael’s Church office and Waterstones bookshop, or direct from the author by emailing

This article originally appeared in the May 2021 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on page 23). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

Share this page: