PPE not PPI is the acronym under discussion here.

Every police officer is equipped with PPE, otherwise known as Personal Protective Equipment. When responding to an incident, particularly if it is expected to be of a violent nature, the control room or the officer’s supervisor will ask the attending officer if they have possession of their “full PPE.”  Generally they will be in possession of the whole lot so they can minimise the risk of injury to themselves and facilitate the arrest of a violent offender.

Personal Protective equipment includes a police radio, body armour, utility belt, baton, handcuffs, CS or Pepper spray and in some cases a helmet (although these tend not to be worn or carried today by officers in many forces throughout the country).

I am often asked whether or not detectives have access to PPE items.  They are issued with the same equipment as their uniformed colleagues.  The differences are that their baton tends to be smaller and carried more discreetly in a harness rather than on a utility belt and the incapacitant spray may well be carried in a pocket rather than a pouch on a utility belt.  Also, detectives tend to leave their equipment at the office, safe in the knowledge that if they attend a potentially violent incident, they can call upon their uniformed colleagues to deal with the matter for them.  A detective will rarely go alone or in pairs to arrest a violent subject.  It wouldn’t be safe. Instead, they co-opt the services of one or more uniformed officers.  In many cases, the sight of an officer in uniform can be enough to discourage a suspect from acting violently.  In other cases, the sight of a police uniform can be as bad as the proverbial “red rag to a bull.”

Most detectives will carry their police radio rather than rely on a mobile telephone.  The radio gives them instant access to the control room, their colleagues and help if they need it.  The signal is more reliable than that of a mobile telephone  and the communications are encrypted.

Officers can only carry and use a baton, handcuffs and incapacitant spray if they have been trained in their use and have refreshed their skills on a training course recently (usually every 12 to 24 months).  Officers are not routinely authorised to take their PPE home as the baton cuffs and spray are classed as offensive weapons that they are only allowed to carry whilst on duty.

Are your officers going to be carrying their PPE or will they either forget to pick it up or decline to carry it for reasons such as the body armour is heavy and cumbersome.

You can find more information about their use by following the links in the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers.  You can also check out many more facts about policing in 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police.

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You’re currently putting your story together and you’ve just described the crime scene. There’s blood present, which is believed to belong to the suspect.  You get your forensic examiners to analyse the blood sample that they think belongs to the suspect.  They tell your fictional detective that they have extracted the suspect’s DNA but that it doesn’t match anyone recorded on the DNA database so without further information, they still have no idea who the suspect may be.

However, based on the latest research findings from  the KU Leuven Forensic Biomedical Sciences Unit in Belgium, it is now possible to predict the age of a suspect or unidentified body from a sample of their blood, rather than merely extracting DNA from the blood to check against the DNA Database.

Scientists from KU Leuven have developed the test which predicts an individuals’ age on the basis of blood or teeth samples. This test may be particularly useful for the police, as it can help track down criminals or identify human remains.

The aging process is regulated by our DNA and human tissues and organs change as we grow older.

Professor Bram Bekaert from the KU Leuven Forensic Biomedical Sciences Unit explains: “The behaviour of our organs and tissues depends on which of our genes are activated. As we grow older, some genes are switched on, while others are switched off. This process is partly regulated by methylation, whereby methyl groups are added to our DNA. In specific locations, genes with high methylation levels are deactivated.”

Bekaert and his colleagues were able to predict an individuals’ age on the basis of a set of four age-associated DNA methylation markers. The methylation levels of these markers can be used for highly accurate age predictions. The researchers were able to determine an individuals’ age with a margin of error of 3.75 years for blood samples and 4.86 years for teeth.  More information can be found at http://www.kuleuven.be/english/news/2015/blood-and-teeth-predict-age

The new technique is potentially useful in the context of police investigations because it can help determine the age of criminals or unidentified bodies, which in turn can lead to identification.

Remember this little fact when putting your story together if it is being based on now and the near future.  It’s pretty useless for stories set in the past.

If you want to read more interesting facts, don’t forget to buy yourself a copy of 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police available on Amazon by clicking the title above or on the picture of the cover to the right.218 Fact Cover

Not only will you get 218 facts, you’ll also see 40 story ideas based on those facts in 36 different areas of policing.

Topics covered include but are not limited to:

  • the organisation of the police
  • crime scene attendance, assessment and investigation
  • police intelligence work
  • police interviews
  • custody suite issues
  • the role of the Senior Investigating Officer

Use 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police to make your stories realistic, to provide you with ideas you’d never thought of before and best of all, to prevent you from embarrassing yourself in front of your readers.

If you think your friends or colleagues would find the book useful, please let them know about it.

Do you want to explore serious and serial crime investigations.?  nottinghamwritersstudio.co.uk

Do you want to hear how crime scenes are processed?

Do you want to find out who does what and how leads are developed and followed?

If your work features any type of crime (committing or solving) , join me for an enlightening evening on 28th September 2015 at 1900 – 2100 for the very first Learn Crime From the Experts course run by the Nottingham Writers’ Studio, 25 Hockley, Nottingham, NG1 1FH.

This is the very first of a series of expert talks organised by the Nottingham Writers’ Studio that will help your work stand out and ensure you get the crucial details right.

Further details are available from the Nottingham Writers’ Studio

If you can’t make it, maybe buy yourself a copy 218 Fact Coverof 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police available on Amazon by clicking the title above or on the picture of the cover to the right.

Not only will you get 218 facts, you’ll also see 40 story ideas based on those facts in 36 different areas of policing.

Topics covered include but are not limited to:

  • the organisation of the police
  • crime scene attendance, assessment and investigation
  • police intelligence work
  • police interviews
  • custody suite issues
  • the role of the Senior Investigating Officer

Use 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police to make your stories realistic, to provide you with ideas you’d never thought of before and best of all, to prevent you from embarrassing yourself in front of your readers.

If you think your friends or colleagues would find the book useful, please let them know about it.

Happy and informed reading.

Not just 218 facts but also 40 ideas to take your story forward in 36 different areas of policing.

My latest book, 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police is now available on Amazon. 218 Fact Cover For the next 10 days, it will be available at a discounted price so get your very own copy by clicking the title above or on the picture of the cover to the right.

You may be wondering why you should part with less than the cost of a coffee from one of the many famous chains, to own your own copy of this unique and useful book.  Some of you, when you examine the preview on Amazon may even conclude that the book is merely a collection of posts from this blog.  Let me allay your suspicions.  It is not.  This blog has shaped the idea of the book and does cover some of this blog’s topics but in much more detail and you will the book provides 40 ideas of how you could take your stories further using the associated facts and provided web links.

These 40 story ideas based on 218 facts in 36 different areas  of policing will both educate and stimulate your creative inclinations.

Topics covered include but are not limited to:

  • the organisation of the police
  • crime scene attendance, assessment and investigation
  • police intelligence work
  • police interviews
  • custody suite issues
  • the role of the Senior Investigating Officer

If you don’t want to make mistakes with your fiction and you don’t have a police adviser in your pocket or hanging at the end of a telephone call just dying to answer the question that you feel really stupid for having to ask, buy this book.  I’ve put it together to save you the time you’d have to spend conducting the research (even if you knew where to look in the first place) or having to flatter, coerce or bribe a police officer who has sufficient experience to provide you with accurate and up to date information along with a series of ideas for taking your story forward.

Use 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police to make your stories realistic, to provide you with ideas you’d never thought of before and best of all, to prevent you from embarrassing yourself in front of your readers.

If you find the book useful, please let your friends and colleagues know about it and a positive review is always most welcome.  If however, you felt that the book failed to meet your expectations or you found a mistake or dead link, just drop me a line at “the(dot)writer(AT)hotmail.co.uk” Don’t forget to swap the dot and AT for their respective characters.

Happy and informed reading.

A coroner is an independent judicial office holder, appointed by a local council.  They usually have a legal background and will also be familiar with medical terminology.

Coroners investigate deaths that have been reported to them if it appears that:coronercrest.jpg

  • the death was violent or unnatural
  • the cause of death is unknown, or
  • the person died in prison, police custody or another type of state detention.

The purpose of the investigation is to find out, for the benefit of bereaved people and for official records, who has died, how, when and where.

If an investigation is determined necessary, a pathologist will normally carry out a post-mortem examination of the body.  Where the post-mortem identifies the cause of death, the coroner will send a form to the Registrar of Births and Deaths stating the cause of death.  The coroner must release the body as soon as possible, after which a funeral can be arranged. 

If it was not possible to find out the cause of death from the post-mortem examination or the death is found to be unnatural, the coroner has to hold an inquest. An inquest is a

fact-finding process, held in public court by the coroner in order to establish who died and how, when and where the death occurred.  The inquest will be held as soon as possible and normally within 6 months of the death if at all possible.

If the death occurred in prison or custody or if it resulted from an accident at work, there will usually be a jury at the inquest.

The coroner (or jury where there is one) comes to a conclusion at the end of the inquest.  This includes the legal ‘determination’, which states who died, where, when and how. The coroner or jury also makes ‘findings’ to allow the cause of death to be registered. When recording the cause the coroner or jury may use one of the following terms:

  • accident or misadventure
  • alcohol/drug related
  • industrial disease
  • lawful killing
  • unlawful killing
  • natural causes
  • open
  • road traffic collision
  • stillbirth
  • suicide

The coroner or jury may also make a brief ‘narrative’ conclusion setting out the facts surrounding the death in more detail and explaining the reasons for the decision.

If a person doesn’t agree with the Coroner’s conclusion, they may challenge their decision or conclusion but they should do this as soon as possible as for some challenges there is a three-month limit.

As you can see:

  1. the coroner does not attend a crime scene to collect forensic evidence,
  2. nor do they carry out a post-mortem

so don’t be caught out letting your fictional coroner do any of these things.

The latest Coroner’s statistics can be found HERE

The Coroners’ Society of England and Wale can be found HERE

Keep following this blog to hear about the imminent launch of my latest book, 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police.

Keep your mailboxes open to make sure that you don’t miss the launch of my next book218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police at an enticing early-bird price.

Forget about spending hours and hours conducting your own research or trying to find a friendly cop with enough knowledge and experience to be able to help answer your questions. Instead, buy 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police and you’ll find the answers already there for you in an easy to navigate Table of Contents.

You’ll find 40 story ideas based on 218 facts in 36 different areas to both educate and stimulate your creative inclinations.

One of the key positions in any police Intelligence Cell is that of the analyst.  Their role is vital in any major investigation where they can even be a part of the Senior Investigating Officer’s management team.

The analyst can be a police officer but most forces employ civilian analysts.  Their primary role is to receive information and to convert it into intelligence through analysis.

Seven of the most common tasks they may undertake include:

  • Conducting environmental scanning of the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, Legal and Organisational (PESTELO) issues to provide an overview of the environment as it relates to the commission of the crime or is likely to affect the subsequent investigation;
  • Drawing networks of associates of both a victim and potential or actual suspect;
  • Telephone call analysis, charting specific telephones to assist with identifying associations between telephones and the patterns of calls involved;
  • Analysing local and regional crime and incident patterns to identify similar offences and/or precursor incident;
  • Analysing a series of crimes and identifying common denominators between different, possibly linked crimes;
  • Drawing charts of (possibly) significant events including a suspect/victim’s sequence of events chart and an extended sequence of events specific to a particular suspect;
  • Analysing prison intelligence; communications intelligence; intelligence from surveillance and undercover operations.

Could you use an analyst in your crime fiction?

You can find more information to help your story-writing by following this blog or using your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:

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Intelligence Units can play an essential role in any major investigations such as murder or serial rape.  In such instances, they are usually based within the Major Incident Room.  An Intelligence Cell or Unit will not be present in all major investigations but will be included where the investigation is complex.  The Cell may be located with the main investigation team or may be based somewhere else such as at the force headquarters.  This possibility tends to hinder the effectiveness of the Cell.

Regardless of its location, the Cell should have easy access to all the documentation that comes into the Major Incident Room. Where this is not the case, their capability becomes impaired.

Intelligence cells can be directed to undertake a wide range of tasks including the processing of information, providing information to support management decisions or influencing the direction of operations.

The Intelligence Cell should be in a position to provide or obtain for the Senior Investigating Officer, intelligence and analytical products, which will assist in the investigation and the understanding of the enquiry at hand.

Five of the most common tasks undertaken by the Intelligence Cell include:

  • Conduct research on related lines of enquiry such as previous police calls to premises or locations; the use of premises or locations; relevant prison releases; custody records for potential suspects;
  • Search of database of offences using similar MO;
  • Identification of associations between people or scenes, or prior knowledge of people/scenes;
  • Searching of significant data bases based upon parameters set by the SIO for example:
    • Police National Computer (Phoenix application) (PNC)
    • Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency
    • CATCHEM (Child Murder and Abduction Database)
    • Police National Database (PND)
  • Liaise with Force Intelligence Units and the intelligence bureaux of other forces and the National Crime Agency (NCA) etc.

Have you got your Intelligence Cell doing the things they should be doing so that the detectives can get out onto the streets to do what they do best?

You can find more information to help your story-telling by following this blog or using your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:

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Intelligence Units are a standard component of any Police Division, Force or Regional Team.  They also play an essential role in any major investigations such as murder or serial rape.  In such instances, they are usually based within the Major Incident Room.

Major Incident Room Intelligence Cells require suitable accommodation, IT, communications and clerical support and must be staffed with appropriately trained personnel, which may include an Intelligence Manager, an Analyst, Researchers and Field Intelligence Officers.  The exact numbers required will vary from one investigation to the other.  The more complex, the greater the overall investigative team, the more intelligence staff will be employed.

Intelligence Manager

The Intelligence Manager is likely to be an Inspector with experience of running an intelligence cell or unit at any of the three levels of complexity.  It is possible but not recommended that they may also be acting as an Informant Controller.

As the manager, they are responsible for the management and supervision of the cell, its staff and liaising directly with the SIO on intelligence and analytical matters.

Analyst

The analyst can be a police officer but most forces employ civilian analysts.  This has both advantages and disadvantages.  A police officer will be experienced in and familiar with many aspects of policing and the requirements of the law and law enforcement.  However, unlike their civilian counterpart, police officers acting as analysts can be too focussed on fact and evidence.  Civilian analysts are more comfortable formulating hypotheses (or guessing) and do not feel constrained by evidential principles.

The analyst’s primary role is to receive information and to convert it into intelligence through analysis.  Think of finding a few jigsaw pieces and coming up with what the complete picture should look like.  This description can sum up what the analyst should be doing.  However, some are not held in such high regard by some Senior Investigating Officers and some other police officers who merely see the analyst as a person that sits at a computer all day and sometimes draws charts or plots things on maps.  This perception is flawed and narrow-minded.  Watch out for a future post listing some of the functions they do perform.

Researcher

The Intelligence Cell is tasked with lots of research that can be conducted from an office rather than from the field and so the researcher is likely to be a constable or civilian employee with research experience.  They will have excellent IT skills and understanding of databases available to them.  The general idea is that researchers pull together information to be analysed by the Analyst.  They can also be tasked with putting together briefing and intelligence packages and products.

Field Intelligence Officers

Field Intelligence Officers (FIOs) are invariably Police Constable rather than detectives and their primary role is to go out and gather information that the researcher or analyst can’t from the comfort and confinement of their offices.  So the obtaining of financial records or statements from banks may be collected by an FIO where they are not available electronically to the researcher.

So, have you managed to get your fictional intelligence cell right or will you now consider using one in your stories?

You can find more information to help your story-telling by following this blog or using your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:

BPCD Cover

A pathologist may only play a fleeting part in your story or they may well be the main character but if you don’t know enough about how they become one, what their relationship is to a criminal investigation or what they do to assist that investigation, you may well be getting them and your story wrong.

Read on to find what you need to know to get them right in your story.

A pathologist (sometimes referred to as a forensic pathologist) is a medically qualified doctor, registered by the General Medical Council, licensed to practice and educated at post-graduate level in histopathology (the study of the effects of disease on the body) and forensic pathology.

Those suitably qualified apply to be registered with The Home Office Pathology Delivery Board and if successful are designated as “A member of the Home Secretary’s Register of Forensic Pathologists”.

Once registered, they must work within ‘group practices’ comprising at least three forensic pathologists who jointly provide post-mortem services within a defined geographical region. The group practices must provide a forensic post-mortem service 24 hours a day and 365 day a year for their region.   The pathologists don’t work set 9 to 5 hours as the number of cases seen each day varies throughout the country, however the latest protocol agreed with the Home Office limits the working period to 120 hours in any 14 day period.

Many forensic pathologists are self-employed but some are employed, full or part-time in the National Health Service (NHS) or University hospitals.

When the police request a pathologist to attend the scene of a suspicious death, they are ‘briefed’ as to the circumstances of the case by the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) or their representative.   Together with the SIO, crime scene investigators and forensic scientists, they agree a strategy for approaching the body, collecting trace evidence from and around it and ultimately the recovery of the body from the scene.

At the scene, the pathologist will examine the body, noting its disposition, the surroundings in which it lies and the presence of injuries that can be seen without disturbing the body or the scene. Many pathologists also supervise recovery of the body by crime scene investigators and funeral directors.

They carry out the post-mortem in an approved mortuary (usually attached to an NHS hospital).  Their examination is directed towards answering the general and specific questions about the cause of death and providing any other information that may help progress the criminal investigation e.g. where someone clearly dies of a gunshot wound to the head, the contents of the victim’s stomach may help identify the time they last ate and what it was they consumed.  Such information may help narrow down the investigative time parameters and lead to the place where they last ate.

The external examination of the body may take several hours due to its immense significance in a suspicious death post-mortem.   Every organ and body cavity is examined in detail.  Samples of organs and injuries are taken for microscopy and samples of body fluids are retained for toxicology.  Each stage of the examination is documented and photographed.  All significant findings, both positive and negative are recorded. The subsequent report is made available to the SIO, Coroner and defence lawyers.  The pathologist may then have to attend court to give evidence at the trial of the accused.

You can find more information to help your story-telling by following this blog or using your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:

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All Senior Investigating Officers (SIOs) want to go straight to the scene of a murder and get on with the investigation but real life differs from the fictional world in that they can’t usually do this as they have other important tasks to complete as soon as they possibly can.

One of those essential tasks is the creation of their policy log.  This is a document in which they record their decision-making rational for them to refer to later or to be scrutinised by others such as a review team or the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

The first 11 things they need to decide upon and record fall under the title of Investigation Set Up and are:

1. Who they are as the Senior Investigating Officer.
2. Appoint a named Deputy Senior Investigating Officer.
3. An initial summary of the incident under investigation.
4. Whether they will use a manual or HOLMES recording system.
5. Where the Incident Room(s) and or satellites are to be located.
6. The identification and definition of scene(s).
7. What their initial decisions at scene were.
8. Which areas are to be preserved/searched/fingerprinted/photographed.
9. The structure and composition of the Management team.
10. Identification of key posts and post-holders, e.g. Disclosure Officer, MIR positions.
11. Appoint an analyst/researchers.

Have your fictional SIOs been recording their Investigation Set Up policy decisions?

This is only the tip of the Policy Log iceberg.  Follow this blog for more information of other policy decisions that the SIO must record or try to find the answer using your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:

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I have just come across a fantastic resource I want to share with you.  It is designed and hosted by the University of Leicester in England.  It is free to access and it allows you to act out your fantasy of being a pathologist by examining information regarding a person and you have to determine the cause of their death.  There is also a lot of anatomical and physiological information provided as well so you’ll have little excuse for getting your fictional post-mortem or autopsies wrong.

The site can be found at – Virtual Autopsy

For many more useful links for writers and researchers, don’t forget to check out your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or to buy a copy, click on the image below:

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1. Not all police officers in the UK carry a gun. The vast majority do not and those that do are extensively trained and under regular scrutiny. Any doubts about their suitability lead to them losing the authority to carry a firearm.

2. Police radios have many of the features of mobile telephones from 5 years ago. They are not merely like a pair of tin can joined together with a piece of string. An officer can speak with or send a text message to any other police officer anywhere else in the country.

3. CID cars do not have blue lights and sirens. CID cars are merely normal saloons as driven by Joe Public. Any unmarked police cars that are equipped with hidden blue lights (often fitted into the grill at the front of the car) and collapsible STOP signs (fitted into the rear parcel shelf), are used by road policing officers, firearms officers or those from serious and organised crime or counter terrorism units.

4. Crime scenes are not the domain solely of detectives. There will always be a uniformed presence there often long after the last detective has left.

5. Police officers don’t test drugs by tasting them. It’s very dangerous. Any drugs they come across are sent off for forensic analysis or in some cases where the suspect admits what they are, they can be tested by trained individuals in a police station.

6. The HM Coroner does not attend the scene of a crime until many weeks or months later and then as part of their inquest and not as part of the initial police investigation.

7. The time of death cannot be reliably estimated through measurement of the dead body’s temperature. It is far easier to examine the stomach contents and deduce the time the last meal was consumed. Providing that is a stomach and its contents still exist.

Don’t forget that you can obtain your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers by clicking on the picture below:BPCD Cover

You may have read about the 4 Professional Investigation Programme (PIP) levels and what constitutes Volumes and Priority crime along with who should be investigating these crime on my previous posts.  If you missed them, catch up here: 4 PIP Levels You Need to Know About and 16 Crimes That Don’t Need a Detective.

Now I’m going to describe what a Serious Crime is and who is likely to lead such an investigation so that you can get the right character investigating the right type of crime in your stories.

Serious crime falls into PIP Level 2 and is defined in section 93(4) of the Police Act 1997 as:

Conduct which

(a)  involves the use of violence, results in substantial financial gain or is conducted by a large number of persons in pursuit of a common purpose or

(b) the offence or one of the offences is an offence for which a person who has attained the age of twenty-one and has no previous convictions could reasonably be expected to be sentenced to imprisonment for a term of three years or more.

Schedule 1 to the Serious Crime Act 2007 lists a number of serious offences. Invariably these are offences which:

  • involve the use of violence, including the use of weapons and firearms
  • are sexual assaults
  • result in substantial financial gain
  • cause substantial financial loss to the victim
  • are conducted by a large number of persons in pursuit of a common purpose.

The circumstances of each case will be considered and common sense applied as whether to categorise an incident as PIP level 2 crime.

The following offences may be categorised as serious and complex investigations:

  • arson (intention to endanger life, or reckless action which could endanger life)
  • abduction
  • aggravated burglary dwelling
  • aggravated burglary non-dwelling
  • arson high value or life endangered
  • blackmail
  • drug trafficking
  • death by dangerous driving
  • fraud and associated offences (over 80 hrs investigation time)
  • kidnapping (unless in major investigation category)
  • perverting justice
  • public order (racially motivated)
  • rape
  • robbery (firearms or actual bodily harm injury)
  • child sex offences
  • wounding (sections 18/20).

In most cases, a police constable will not be the sole or lead investigator in serious or complex crimes.  It is generally the role of a Detective Constable to investigate this level of crime, supervised by a Detective Sergeant.  The more complex the crime, the more detectives assigned to the investigation.  More than 5 detectives generally means more Detective Sergeants supervising and two or more Detective Sergeants will probably mean that a Detective Inspector leads the investigative team.

So allocating a Detective Chief Inspector or Detective Superintendent to one of these investigations may be a little bit of overkill.  Watch out for my next post to find out about just what they are likely to get involved in or if you can’t wait, you can always try to find the answers using your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:BPCD Cover

You may have read about the 4 Professional Investigation Programme (PIP) levels and what constitutes Volumes and Priority crime along with who should be investigating these crime and Serious and Complex crimes on my previous posts.  If you missed them, catch up here: 4 PIP Levels You Need to Know About and 16 Crimes That Don’t Need a Detective and Serious and Complex Crimes in Your Stories.

Now I’m going to describe what a Major Crime is and who is likely to lead such an investigation so that you can get the right character investigating the right type of crime in your stories.

Serious and Complex crimes are usually investigated by a Detective Constable.  The more serious or complex they become, the more likely a supervisory officer, such as a Detective Sergeant or a Detective Inspector, may take charge of the investigation.

These categories of crime can escalate to become known as Major Crimes where there are aggravating factors such as one or more of the following:

  • there is a likelihood of escalation into large-scale disorder or a critical incident e.g. activists striving to escalate a peaceful demonstration into a violent confrontation;
  • the original offence has escalated in significance to the community e.g. an assault on a child looking likely to turn into “hunt the paedophile;”
  • sensitivity regarding the individuals involved be they victims or suspects e.g. someone significant in the community;
  • there is increased media interest (especially in the above example);
  • there are aggravating factors in the offence e.g. the victim suffered unnecessary and excessive violence;
  • the victim or witness is particularly vulnerable e.g. the burglary of a very elderly person’s home, which causes them to be hospitalised through the trauma of the event;
  • the crime crosses force or national boundaries e.g. an armed robbery where the car used, was stolen in one force area, the robbery committed in a second force area and the car used dumped in a third force area;
  • the crime forms part of a series of undetected offences (probably) committed by the same offender(s);
  • the crime has been committed by an organised crime gang;
  • there are terrorist links to the crime e.g. the theft of chemicals likely to be used in the manufacture of explosives;
  • the offenders are both forensically and surveillance aware and are exploiting police vulnerabilities or
  • there are multiple offenders e.g. five people involved in one burglary or assault.

 

PIP Level 3 offences categorised as major investigations include:

  • murder
  • attempted murder
  • threat to murder
  • manslaughter
  • infanticide
  • child destruction
  • kidnapping
  • terrorism offences.

At PIP Level 3 a nationally registered Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) will be appointed to lead a major investigation.  They could be a Detective Inspector, Detective Chief Inspector or Detective Superintendent.  The decision who it should be is usually made by the head of crime (Detective Chief Superintendent), or appointed Deputy/Assistant Chief Constable in some forces.

So, if you want your character to be anything other than a Detective Inspector or above, investigating a murder, they had better have a plausible reason for doing so rather than it being left to an accredited SIO.  Unless of course, you have ideas you would like to share.

Watch out for my next post to find out about PIP Level 4 or if you can’t wait, you can always try to find the answers using your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:BPCD Cover

If you caught my last post about PIP levels you may well be wondering what crimes are classed as volume and priority crimes but then again you may not be interested.  However, if you are writing the police into your stories, you better get the right type of cop dealing with the right type of crime.  If you missed my post about the PIP levels click HERE to catch up.

The category of volume and priority crime fall under PIP level 1 and are invariably investigated by a police constable as opposed to a detective constable.  That’s not to say that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) may not get involved.  If they feel that the investigating constable needs mentoring or developmental support, they may provide that.  If there appear to be aggravating circumstance to the crime such as the victim is particularly vulnerable, they may intervene or take over the investigation.

Volume crime is that which is more common place than the more serious crimes.  Despite what comes across on TV and in novels, murder is not an everyday or even monthly occurrence in most areas of the country.  In fact, the average number of murders recorded by the police in England and Wales amounts to no more than around 700 per year.  That is less than two per day across the whole of those two countries.  Crimes such as theft, criminal damage and public order offences are part of the volume crime category.

Priority crimes are those that the individual police forces declare to be of sufficient seriousness to them and their community that action should be taken against them and their perpetrators.

Priority crimes may include robbery, burglary and vehicle-related criminality, but can also apply to criminal damage or assaults.

Offences categorised by the College of Policing as volume and priority investigations include:

  • arson (criminal damage with no threat to life)
  • burglary dwelling
  • burglary non-dwelling
  • cheque/credit card fraud
  • criminal damage
  • drugs possession offences
  • minor Firearms Act offences
  • going equipped for stealing
  • handling stolen goods
  • other fraud
  • public order
  • sexual assault (excluding sexual assault against children)
  • street robbery
  • theft from the person or motor vehicle
  • theft of motor vehicle
  • taking a vehicle without owner’s consent (including aggravated offences).

To find out what types of crime are considered to be “serious or complex” in the PIP Level 2 category, make sure you follow or subscribe to this blog or if you can’t wait, you could always seek out the answer in your very own copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:

BPCD Cover

If you know your PIP levels, you’ll know that you’ve got the correct resource investigating a specific crime type. In other words, you’ll not be allocating a Detective Inspector to go out and investigate the theft of someone’s car or a Police Constable to track down a kidnapper.

But What is PIP?
PIP in British Policing relates to the Professionalising Investigation Programme.

What does it do?
It ensures that staff are trained, skilled and accredited to conduct the highest quality investigations in each PIP level.

The PIP structure involves a series of levels:
PIP level 1 – priority and volume crime investigations
PIP level 2 – serious and complex investigations
PIP level 3 – major investigations
PIP level 4 – strategic management of highly complex investigations.

In simple terms, Level 1 investigators tend to be uniformed Police Constables (PCs).

Level 2 investigations are generally carried out by a Detective Constable (DC) who is part of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Level 3 investigations are usually led by at least a Detective Inspector (DI) who may be attached to CID or a specialist unit such as a Major Crimes Unit.

Level 4 investigations require the leadership of a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) who may be any rank from DI to Detective Chief Superintendent (DCS).

As with most things in life, there are always exceptions.  Have you got the correct investigator involved in your fictional crimes?

If you’re wanting to find out more about Senior Investigating Officers  then pick up your copy of A Writer’s Guide to Senior Police Investigators in the UK at Amazon or by clicking on the image below

A Writer's Guide to Senior Investigating Police Officers in the UK by [Robinson, Kevin N.]

To find out what types of crime fit into which levels, make sure you follow or subscribe to this blog or if you can’t wait, you could always seek out the answer in your very own copy of the updated and expanded British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers 2016, which you can acquire by clicking on the link above or the image below.

BPCD 2016 Cover on Amazon

 

You may have already read of the seven things a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) should have in their “grab bag” but if you missed it, you can catch up with it by clicking HERE or the next 5 things they need to have handy click HERE.

As well as those first twelve items, here are five more that they are told to make sure that they should have in their “grab bag” for when they receive The Call that there has been a murder etc.

  1. Clipboard or similar armed with plenty of writing/drawing implements.
  2. Forensic suit/mask/gloves/overshoes.
  3. Vehicle full of fuel and ignition keys at the ready (or other suitable transport, or driver).
  4. Money/change for emergencies.
  5. The Amazon link to the SIOs’ Handbook in readily accessible place.

Make sure you subscribe to or follow this blog to hear more about SIOs

Or if you can’t wait, you could try to find the answer using the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:BPCD Cover

You may have already read of the seven things a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) should have in their “grab bag” but if you missed it, you can catch up with it by clicking HERE.

As well as those first seven items, here are five more that they are told to make sure that they should have in their “grab bag” for when they receive The Call that there has been a murder etc.

  1. Essential documents such as the makings of a paper management system (which would include such things as list of actions raised, paper actions themselves, and major incident (MI) write-up sheets and message forms).
  2. Freshly prepared food/sandwiches (in the fridge) ready to go.
  3. Drink (e.g. cold drink or thermos flask).
  4. Street map (e.g. A–Z or satellite navigation system).
  5. Outdoor warm and waterproof clothing.

Make sure you subscribe to or follow this blog to hear more about SIOs

Or if you can’t wait, you could try to find the answer using the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:BPCD Cover

Watch any crime drama or read any crime fiction and the chances are that the moment a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) gets the call that there has been a murder, they will be on the scene before you can make a cup of tea.

However, in real life SIOs are told to make sure that they have ready to hand (by the telephone) a fresh ‘daybook’ open at the first page, with a pen ready to record all information, details and decisions immediately right from the initial contact.

They should also have a grab bag prepared and ready for when they receive The Call.

Here are seven things they will have in their “grab bag”:
1. Identification badge and/or ID card (name, rank, and role should be easily recognisable), plus spare ID card for prominent display in the SIO’s own vehicle if it is going to be left at or near a crime scene).
2. A fresh policy book (and spare).
3. Mobile phone and charger (and/or spare battery).
4. List of important contact numbers (e.g. Crime Scene Investigator, pathologist, Family Liaison Officer, etc).
5. Police radio, spare battery and list of channels.
6. Suitable and/or practical clothing (including change of top).
7. Torch/batteries.

Will your lead detective remember to take their seven items and if not, will it add something to your story?

Make sure you subscribe to or follow this blog to hear what other things they should have in their “grab bag.”

Or if you can’t wait, you could try to find the answer using the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:BPCD Cover