Planet Police – Never a dull moment policing the streets of Britain
Before becoming a Christian missionary, Natalie Vellacott was a UK police officer from 2001 to 2011. She started at the age of 19, thus fulfilling her childhood dream. She worked both as a plain clothed detective and as a uniformed officer, being later promoted to sergeant. During the decade she spent working for the Sussex Police she gained experience in several departments and was employed in nine different stations.
In 2002 her younger brother James died in a car accident. He was 18. Natalie had a boyfriend at the time, but their relationship ended soon after it and no other boyfriend is mentioned all over the book, so I kept wondering if she hadn’t had anybody else during the following years or if she just decided to omit this aspect of her life from the book.
In Planet Police, the author relates many episodes occurred during her career as a police officer, but I honestly found most of them unimpressive, maybe because all the characters were nameless and each story lasted only a few lines. I forgot them soon after reading them. Maybe the author should have used fake names instead of no names at all. Too many fleeting episodes and characters are difficult to remember. Their physical description would help the reader to picture them better.
What I appreciated was Natalie’s willingness to admit her own mistakes, both on duty and off duty. For example she smoked, drank and gambled, giving up all these bad habits only after rediscovering her Christian faith in 2005 at the age of 23.
Natalie began to be involved in street evangelism during her free time, but this caused her some conflicts with her job. On Saturday mornings a small group of people met for prayer and then went out to give out leaflets about Christianity, but one day Natalie was asked to take part in a peaceful protest against the annual Gay Pride Parade in Brighton.
Natalie knew several gay officers and she treated them as individuals, rather than thinking about their sexuality. She didn’t judge others, but she couldn’t endorse an event like the Gay Pride.
Gay police officers had been given the permission to join the parade and march in uniform while they were working, so she thought it would be acceptable to take part in the protest during her spare time. Nothing identified her as an officer.
Despite all this some colleagues recognized her and Natalie was later summoned by a senior officer. She was told that some people disliked her views and that she shouldn’t have aligned in public. She hadn’t discriminated against anyone, but she had the potential to do it in the future. Some senior officers labelled her as homophobic. A clear example of political correctness dictatorship.
After almost a decade, Natalie began to feel always tired. At first she thought it was just because of shift work, but then she found out that her thyroid was underactive. She had to take medication every day for the rest of her life.
Many retired police officers died in their fifties. Their average life expectancy was of just seven years after they retired. If Natalie had completed her service (30 years) she would have retired at 49. Stress, shift work and the subsequent unhealthy lifestyle lead police officers to an early death. This is why Natalie decided to apply for a six-month unpaid leave. She needed to rest and wanted to look for another job. She sent several applications for paid jobs in the UK, but nobody seemed interested in hiring her. It was then that Natalie volunteered to become a missionary on a ship abroad, but she first needed to save up some money, so she asked to go back to work after only four months instead of six.
Natalie joined the Logos Hope ship in late August 2011. She had obtained a two-year unpaid leave. Some colleagues thought that Natalie was about to sacrifice two years of her life to help people, but she also wanted to share her faith, even if somebody believed it would be arrogant to go to another country and try to change the religion of its people. Of course, Natalie believes that Christianity is the only true religion, because in the Bible God claims to be the only real God and that those who choose otherwise will go to hell.
In September 2013, Natalie returned from her two years on board the Logos Hope ship and resigned from her post as Police Sergeant to become an independent missionary evangelist in the Philippines. What it’s still unclear to me is which kind of Christian is she. Methodist, Baptist or what else?
Natalie gave up her salary, stable job and police pension!
She doesn’t miss neither diversity training courses (e.g. courses about multiculturalism) nor the “politically correct brigade (…) seeking opportunities to take people down for expressing their opinions.”
Natalie’s cool picture wearing her police uniform and holding some guns appeared in a local newspaper and she was given permission to use it for the front cover of the book.
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.