A Force Like No Other

The Real Stories of the RUC men and women who policed the Troubles

Colin Breen

In 1983, Interpol named Northern Ireland the most dangerous place in the world to be a police officer. Now, for the first time, the men and women who policed the Troubles tell their stories in their own words.
Date Published :
October 2017
Publisher :
Blackstaff Press
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9780856409721
Pages : 192
Dimensions : 8.5 X 5.25 inches
In stock


In 1983, Interpol named Northern Ireland the most dangerous place in the world to be a police officer.


In 1968, the RUC was catapulted into the Troubles. Bombs, death threats and murder became a regular part of the day job. Working right at the heart of the conflict, police officers were often caught in the middle – heroes to some, villains to others.

Now, for the first time, the men and women who policed the Troubles tell their own stories in their own words. Covering all aspects of police work, from handling informants and conducting interviews with notorious criminals to dealing with the aftermath of tragic bombings, these candid, moving and sometimes blackly comic stories show the unpredictable, brutal and surreal world in which the RUC operated.

As a former police officer, Colin Breen has unparalleled access to former RUC, Special Branch and CID officers who have never spoken out before. Their stories reveal the mayhem and madness that officers dealt with every day; the psychological and personal toll of the job; and the camaraderie – and the whiskey – that helped them to cope.

Raw, unsettling and frank, A Force Like No Other tells the real story of the RUC.

About The Author

COLIN BREEN is a journalist and broadcaster and has written extensively for local and national papers, including the Belfast Telegraph, Sunday World and Sunday Times. In his former life he served in the RUC, and was based in Belfast for over ten years at the height of the Troubles. He is currently working on a TV project on The Shankill Butchers for BBC Northern Ireland.


“An often chilling series of recollections gleaned from … colleagues in Special Branch and CID, many of whom have never spoken before about the Troubles.”

- Belfast Telegraph

Colin Breen has provided a most powerful and unique insight into the world”s most dangerous job in policing in the 1970s and “80s.”

- Henry McDonald, Observer and Guardian Ireland Correspondent

“Murders, robberies, terrorism, information gathering … paramilitaries and the black, defensive humour that kept people sane are all here in abundance … Compelling, frank and often disturbing.”

- Policebeat, Magazine of the Police Federation of Northern Ireland

“If you like dark and inappropriate humour – pick up this book. Great read, very moving and funny.”

- David Feherty, columnist and broadcaster

“The RUC was a hero organisation to some and a villainous one to others … a book like this helps to separate fact from fiction and reinforces that at the heart of our history, human beings make the war and make the peace.”

- Joe Cushnan, Belfast Telegraph

“This book of real RUC insider anecdotes makes a delightful alternative to other accounts of policing the Troubles. It has, of course, the best possible sources – the cops themselves.”

- Hugh Jordan, Sunday World

“Absorbing stories from the real peacemakers of the Troubles. Humorous, sad, irreverent, but always candid.”

- Dr William Matchett, author of Secret Victory: The Intelligence War that Beat the IRA

“A series of frank accounts by men and women who served in a force that at times was stretched to breaking point, A Force Like No Other recalls the horrors of the Troubles but also some of the funnier stories of everyday life as a cop.”

- Stephen Gordon, Sunday Life

“This should be compulsory reading.”

- Former Special Forces Officer attached to the RUC

“a remarkable and valuable collection of personal reminiscences which capture for history what the brave men and women of the RUC went through to maintain law and order”

- Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

‘Fascinating and intriguing stories from inside a police force on the front line of inter-communal conflict and violence, and a reminder of the high price paid by its officers.’

- Peter McDermott, Irish Echo

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