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Rocking the Boat – Paul Wilson

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This is a very important book about horrific critical racist events in contemporary policing. Written in considerable detail by one brave influencer and leader. He was at the heart of the start (hopefully) of some tectonic shifts in Police culture and thinking. It is an extremely thoughtful personal and organisational narrative and at times takes an unusual and helpful global perspective. It should be required reading and could be an excellent case study on policing, or Police leadership course. A very helpful addition to my libraryJohn G.D. Grieve CBE QPM BA Hons MPhil Hon DL

His book is a thought provoking narrative on the policing of colour inside and outside the Metropolitan Police spanning 3 decades, and from a senior officer who spent his career challenging the blind eyes to racism through the ranks. He offers a fascinating insight into how a black police officer endures firstly colleagues’ racist insults and then the more endemic prejudice to become the Met Police’s first ever black superintendent in Brixton. Last year’s events around Black Lives Matter and the recurring controversies over stop and search are testament to Paul Wilson’s analysis and his unrelenting battles for racial justice Simon Israel

Rocking the Boat presents a challenging read at this particular time for those concerned with the police and race relations … The author is to be commended for his courage in sharing his experiences – Trevor Hall CBE, retired Race Equality Advisor to the Home Office

For some, it brings back painful memories. For others, it will be met with disbelief and dismissal. It is part of New Scotland Yard’s history … into an institution of much greatness yet remains with issues when it comes to race that it finds difficult to acknowledge and thus resolve – Patricia F Gallan QPM, retired Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police

From establishing the Black Police Association, heavily influencing the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry, discussing issues with a Home Secretary, a Prime Minister, and an American President, Paul’s impact on policing cannot be overestimated. This book is not only a historical look over a fascinating career and an inspirational story of overcoming adversity, but it is also an important wake-up call in the Black Lives Matter era – Lord Brian Paddick, former Deputy Assistant Commissioner, Metropolitan Police

Rocking the Boat chronicles the career of a black police officer’s extraordinary and unprecedented determination in challenging a police occupational culture steeped in racism.

In the year 2020, considerable attention was being paid to the issue of institutional racism in US law enforcement. However, this is not the first time, or the only country, in which this same issue has become relevant and pressing. As a black police officer in the UK between 1983 and 2010, Paul Wilson was in the centre of a similar wave of interest and was personally involved in many of the institutional changes that were suggested, debated, opposed, and fought in the UK during this time.

The author’s authority on the subject of institutional racism in British policing has been acknowledged over and over, as can be seen by his involvement as a consultant in numerous news and current affairs programmes; the many interviews with him that have appeared in the British media; his invitations to speak at events in France, Canada, South Africa, the UK and the US; and his status as the first British black person ever to be awarded a Fulbright Police Fellowship Award.

Though it addresses painful topics, this book is entertaining in addition to being educational. The author’s experiences as a constable on the streets of Croydon, his meeting of US President George W. Bush and his being rescued by a renowned jazz musician when he’s accidentally locked inside an apartment in Harlem, New York, are some of the events that provide humorous counterpoints to the heavy main story. More than a simple history lesson, these anecdotes turn the book into a pleasurable read.

Additional information


Paul Wilson

Publication Date

Hardback – 21st September 2021
Paperback – 14th June 2022


Hardback, Paperback


Hardback – 9781838279837
Paperback – 9781915073013

Number of pages

Hardback – 388
Paperback – 420


World English

3 reviews for Rocking the Boat – Paul Wilson

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1-3 of 3 reviews
  1. Rocking the Boat is a blueprint for today’s Black police officers to better understand how to navigate a police culture whose foundation is embedded in white supremacy, institutional racism, oppression, white privilege and an inherent intolerance to anyone’s perspectives or actions which are perceived as a direct challenge to maintaining the status quo. Paul Wilson masterfully documents his journey to reveal how his upbringing, character, work experiences, education, leadership roles in police associations and professional networking were inextricably interwoven to prepare him as the man who would “rock the boat” during various times throughout his professional career. Paul Wilson’s willingness to reveal his vulnerability brought authenticity to his story, which will captivate readers’ attention and evoke a range of emotions his readers will feel vicariously. I highly recommend Rocking the Boat for individuals inside and outside of the police world.

    Shawn Kennedy, Retired Sergeant (Chicago Police Department) and Information Officer (National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers)

  2. I had the good fortune to meet and interview Paul in 1995, when he help found the BPA for a piece I was doing for BBC Radio 5 Live.

    I watched his career progress, and yet what he reveals in this book is astonishing.

    I remember clearly that Newsnight interview and the buffoon from the police federation. In my honestly held opinion on a matter of public interest with an absence of malice, this was a white guy who claimed he couldn’t understand what Paul was saying.

    Well, that shows Paul’s intellect and his ability to speak truth to power.

    This book is a must for any person of colour hoping for a career in the police. You must serve. You must protect. And you must be selfless in making sure you take other people of colour with you.

    To academics who teach criminal and police studies, across the UK, this should be on your reading list.

    Unfortunately, what Paul writes about still happens today, but don’t listen to me, read it from the horse’s mouth.

    Thanks for a great read, Paul.

    Professor Barnie Choudhury

  3. A fact based, honest account of our divided world. Paul takes us through his life journey with intimate and credible detail. From a young colored boy coming to terms with his identity to an accomplished Metropolitan Police Superintendent dealing with deep rooted discrimination and institutionalized racism. His rise through the ranks was not by accident but pure hard work, discipline and curiosity. As a Black female growing up in Apartheid South Africa and rising through the corporate world, I found some starking similarities and genuine inspirations in this book. Paul inspires the reader to never settle and have the courage of personal convictions. He evokes raw emotions – anger, surprise, pride, love and hope.
    This book is critical to continue the conversation on Race, Discrimination, Black Lives, Culture and White Privilege. A Must Read!

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