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Do you find that not many stories or TV dramas spend much time in police cells?  Suspects simply tend to be arrested and interviewed before being released, appearing in court or going to prison.

Believe it or not, there is a whole lot more going on inside those police cells and therefore scope for a lot more to happen in your stories.  You could create or increase conflict between characters; sow information; provide back-story; add twists or simply complicate matters even more.A Writer's Guide to Police Cells and Custody Procedures in the UK by [Robinson, Kevin N.]

To help you learn about police cells, procedures and to lend your stories an air of authenticity that can only come from greater detail and inside knowledge, I have just released A Writer’s Guide to Police Cells and Custody Procedures in the UK.

Inside you will find chapters describing what a custody suite is, what it contains, along with who works and visits there.

You will also find out what happens to suspects as they enter custody, throughout their time in detention and how they are subsequently dealt with.

Within the 134 pages, there are at least 19 ideas of how you could use some of the information provided, along with links to 32 other resources freely available via the internet.

To get you copy, simply click on the above book cover-

If you’re still unsure, just have a look at the extensive Table of Contents to see just how much is covered and the amount of detail that is provided.


Chapter One: 1. What Are Police Cells and Custody Suites?
Police Custody Suites
Home Office Approval
HMICFSR Inspections
Description of a Custody Suite Interior
Holding Area
Custody Desk/Counter
Biometric Rooms
Fingerprint Room
Photograph Room
DNA Sample Room
Breathalyser Room
Emergency Strips
Types of Cell
Forensic Search Cell
Report Writing Room
Consultation Room
Interview Rooms
Interview Monitoring Room
Medical Room
Food Store
Prisoner’s Lockers
General Storeroom
Prisoner Clothing
Cleaning Equipment
Staff Rest Room

Chapter Two: What Staff Work in a Custody Suite?
Staff in General
Custody Chief Inspector
Custody Inspector
Custody Sergeant
Detention Officers
Contracted Staff

Chapter Three: What is the Booking in Process?
Arrival at the Custody Suite
On Arrest
Necessity Test
Prior Arrangement
Answering Bail
Wanted on Warrant
S136 Mental Health Act
Police Protection Order
Prison Production
Reason for Arrest
Violent Prisoners
Fit to Detain
Personal Details Recorded
Rights Given and Explained
Intimate Searches Conducted
Seizure of Property
Custody Record
Biometrics and DNA

Chapter Four: What Happens During Police Detention?
Placed in Cell
Types of Observation Carried Out
Medical Examination
Evidential Samples Taken
Enquiries Carried Out
Fit to Interview
Legal Consultation
Reports Written
Linked to Police IT Systems
Ability to Listen to Interviews
Meals and Drinks
Pace Clock
Custody Reviews
Identification (ID) Parade
Detainee Complaints
Deaths in Custody
Contingency Planning and Evacuations

Chapter Five: Who else may be Present in a Custody Suite?
Legal Adviser
Police Staff
Health Care Professionals
Social Worker
Referral Scheme Workers
Appropriate Adult
Prisoner Transport Staff
Independent Custody Visitors
Builders/Maintenance Staff
Other Enforcement Officers

Chapter Six: What is the Release Process from Custody?
When to Release?
Fit to be Released?
Return of Property/Clothing
Disposal Method
Transferred into the Custody of Others
Refused Charge
No Further Action
Final Warning/Reprimand
Bailed to a Police Station
Charged and Bailed
Charged and Remanded in Custody

Chapter Seven: Useful Resources
Websites of Use
Useful Books and Documents
Useful TV Programmes

Don’t forget to get your very own copy of the following guides, if you haven’t already, by clicking on the images below –

A Writer's Guide to Senior Investigating Police Officers in the UK by [Robinson, Kevin N.]218 Fact Cover

BPCD 2016 Cover on Amazon

If like me, you find it easy to assimilate information when it is presented visually, then I am sure you will find the following link (below in Bold) very interesting.  If you aren’t visually inclined, there is some text on it too that you will also find useful.  Many authors spend much thinking time figuring out how they are going to dispose of the bodies (fictionally speaking of course) and get away with murder.  The linked infographic depicts 10 Ways to Cover Up a Murder.  Just don’t try it in real life.  I won’t vouch for you at your trial.

The second item produced by the Metro, describes just What Happens to a Human Body After Death. BE WARNED – IT IS GRAPHIC but it gets the points across in an easily understandable way.  The points it alludes to may just come in handy when you have a body found in your stories.

Don’t forget to get your very own copy of the following guides, if you haven’t already, by clicking on the images below and watch out for the release of the forthcoming Writer’s Guide to UK Police Custody and Cell Procedures.

A Writer's Guide to Senior Investigating Police Officers in the UK by [Robinson, Kevin N.]
218 Fact Cover
BPCD 2016 Cover on Amazon

Have you ever considered using police drones in your fiction?

If you haven’t, now may a good time to think about it and to help you, I’ve put together a short piece about them, their usage and a few thoughts about how they could be incorporated or not into your stories.Police drone

Dorset, Devon and Cornwall Police formed the first dedicated “Drone Team” or unit in November 2015 partly in response to having their budgets slashed and partly to provide much needed cover that the National Police Air Service (NPAS) helicopter couldn’t provide.

Today, more than two-thirds of UK police forces either have their own or access to another force’s “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) or drones. Generally, the larger the force, the more UAVs and trained operators they have. West Yorkshire Police, the fourth largest police force in England has 11 drones and 60 Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) accredited and qualified remote pilots or operators.

The West Midland Police paid £28,000 for their three drones and seven officers to be trained in their use out of funds obtained via the Proceeds of Crimes Act.

The drones come in various sizes with varying capabilities. They are battery operated, take off and land vertically, much like a helicopter does. Depending on their size, they can stay airborne for around 20-45 minutes, some in all weathers. The batteries are charged either in a building or from a suitably equipped vehicle. They can operate up to 400 feet (120m) high and fly up to 40 miles per hour. CAA legislation doesn’t allow them to be flown any higher so as to avoid collisions with aircraft that do not fly below 500 feet. The drones can be fitted with High Definition (HD) cameras, HD video recorders and/or thermal imaging cameras and are capable of providing a live-feed to commanding officers and operators.

CAA regulations stipulate that the drones must not fly more than 500 metres from the pilot and remain in their view at all times unless a second pilot is used.

Police drones are not used for general surveillance of the public (in the way that town centre CCTV cameras are deployed). They will be used in crime hot-spots to target criminals, areas where large events (football matches, protests) take place, serious incidents such as major crime incidents, road traffic collisions or industrial accidents occur and to search areas difficult for officers to search by foot.

Greater Manchester Police used their drones to crack down on crime on the city’s transportation network, whilst Norfolk Police used theirs to find a missing 75 year-old man wandering lost around dense reed beds. Dorset Police have used theirs to help tackle wildlife crime. Kent Police produce a monthly list of when a drone has been used and why.

Police drones will not replace the need for NPAS helicopters but will free them up to be used for longer on more serious and complex operations such as pursuits and fast moving surveillance operations or where there is the need for a distance of more than 500 feet to be maintained between a drone and its operator.

Scientists based at Cambridge University and in India are working on a project to develop artificial intelligence software that can automatically and instantaneously spot violent or suspicious behaviour in crowds, from the air. Using shop bought drones fitted with innovative software, they have been able to spot when a punch is thrown, a kick launched and even a gun pulled out, with a very high degree of accuracy, within a small crowd. Maybe in the future, UK police forces, which are amongst the World’s most enthusiastic adopters of drone technology, may deploy such UAVs as these in development, to keep an eye, 24 hours a day on our streets, both to keep us safe and to alert traditional resources when something is afoot or amiss.

Watch a video about drones, produced by Devon and Cornwall Police at

You can follow the use of and issues around UAVs by following on Twitter @DronesWMP, @PoliceDrones and @lincsCOPter

Also keep your eyes and ears open for forces such as Devon and Cornwall Police offering courses to members of the public to help them make sensible and legal choices when flying their drones.

So, how are you going to fit police drones into your stories?

Don’t forget to get your very own copy of the following guides, if you haven’t already, by clicking on the images below and watch out for the release of the forthcoming Writer’s Guide to UK Police Custody and Cell Procedures.

A Writer's Guide to Senior Investigating Police Officers in the UK by [Robinson, Kevin N.]218 Fact Cover

BPCD 2016 Cover on Amazon

Ever since the late nineties, when police budgets began shrinking, police forces in the UK have sought ways of collaborating with each other.  Examples of what form this has taken, can be found in the East Midlands where Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire Police are working together in many different areas vital to policing, ranging from major crime investigation through to IT infrastructure.

Courtesy of BPTSouth Yorkshire and Humberside Police decided to share one Human Resources department whilst Humberside, South Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and West Yorkshire Police collaborate on a range of policing issues, including Roads Crime, Intelligence, Organised Crime, Special Operations and Witness Protection.

Most recently, British Transport Police (BTP) have invited the Royal Military Police (RMP) to allow their soldiers to join BTP operational patrols and CID at Liverpool Street and Waterloo train stations, in London.

BTP Superintendent Matt Allingham said: “This is a great, practical way to bring two specialist police organisations together to share expertise and enhance what we do.

“By giving Royal Military Police personnel the opportunity to shadow our teams at two of London’s busiest stations they’ll be able to gain first-hand experience of wider policing. There are clear benefits brought by the increasing uniformed visibility at our key transport hubs in relation to crime prevention. The uniqueness of having joint military and police personnel on patrol also provides a conversation starter with the travelling public and assists with engagement in line with NPT principles. Our initial pilot based at Waterloo was a big success and we’re pleased to be able to expand the scheme so more officers can get involved and hope to roll the scheme out even further in future.” – Source

Have you ever thought to include collaborating police forces in your stories?  If not, give it a go.  It will give you more freedom to roam geographically at least (beyond force boundaries).

Don’t forget to get your very own copy of the following guides, if you haven’t already, by clicking on the images below and watch out for the release of the forthcoming Writer’s Guide to UK Police Custody and Cell Procedures.

A Writer's Guide to Senior Investigating Police Officers in the UK by [Robinson, Kevin N.]218 Fact Cover

BPCD 2016 Cover on Amazon

There is an interesting insight into the work of a Met Police Homicide detective in London provided by the BBC at the following link –

Have a look and it may just help your story ideas.

AvailBPCD 2016 Cover on Amazonable from March 2016 is the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers 2016.  Not only have the links in the 2015 edition been checked and verified but over 70 pages of extra links have been added.  This now means that you have immediate access to contact details of the 72 police and other law enforcement agencies and departments; more than 350 manuals, documents and guides about the police, investigating crime and criminals; 85 websites that provide you with other exciting and useful information; 69 video clips to increase your understanding and knowledge about the police at work; 42 social media links that will keep you updated and informed, along with links to 85 books about the police, policing, crime and writing crime fiction that you will find invaluable.

Go down the traditional publishing route and you will find an editor telling you to get your policing facts checked out: go down the self publishing route and its down to your own self-discipline and professionalism.

You will find that most bestselling authors have conducted meticulous research or employed someone to do it for them.

Using this book, you will no longer find it difficult or time-consuming to locate the facts about the police in the UK, that you need for your novel.

You don’t need to spend time and effort tracking down a reliable source of information. You can free yourself from futile research.

You can save time wasted looking for facts you can trust and focus on what you do best – writing.

Treat yourself to the latest edition of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers and turn yourself from a nervous, unsure novice to a confident, knowledgeable, professional author.

Please feel free to share this news with your friends and colleagues.

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:

BPCD Cover

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

What’s your biggest frustration about researching for your crime fiction?

Do you have a specific question? Are you unable to find the answer?  Do you not know where to look for the answer?  Do you think you know the answer but aren’t too sure and don’t know how to confirm your thoughts?

If you don’t want to comment on this blog, drop me a private note to

Not in the UK they don’t.

What am I writing about? Terminology and phraseology.

When a suspect is being arrested in the UK, phrases such as “book him,” “read him his rights” and “Miranda him” are not used.  When being arrested, a suspect in the UK is told they are being arrested and Cautioned.  They can also be cautioned at the time that questions are being asked about their suspected involvement in a crime but before being arrested also before an official police interview after being arrested and having been taken to a police station.

The wording of the Caution goes like this:

“You do not have to say anything. But it may harm your defence if you do not mention, when questioned, something which you rely on in court. Anything you do say can be given in evidence.”

The police don’t have to use these exact words but they must tell the suspect all the information in it and if the suspect doesn’t understand what has been said the police should explain what is meant.

“You’re nicked” on its own is insufficient as there is no warning of the consequences of making a verbal comment at the time of arrest and as such any damming statement made by the suspect becomes inadmissible in court.

This means that if after being told he was nicked, the suspect replied “its a fair cop, I did it” but there was no corroborating evidence to support this admission, the statement couldn’t be used against him as he hadn’t been told before hand that that statement could be used against him.

There is no requirement for a suspect to say anything at all to the police upon being Cautioned. It is perfectly legal for them to just look into space or use that famous phrase: ‘No comment.’

However if they say nothing but later in court offer an answer to the question, the court may hold it against them and wonder why such an explanation wasn’t offered in the first place.  The court can draw an “adverse inference” from the original silence or refusal to answer the questions asked by the police.

For example if after being arrested for an assault and upon being cautioned,  the suspect remains silent but at court they claim that they acted in self-defence, the court is well within its rights to ask why this defence wasn’t offered in the first place and thereby believe such a claim to be false.

 So will you read your suspect their rights or Caution them?

Don’t forget to get your copy of the best directory of its kind, in the world by clicking on the cover photo below –

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I don’t know where else to put it. I suppose I could make some sort of police link to it but I won’t.

Three days ago I was standing and walking around Dachau concentration camp.

I have never been to one before and despite having heard of the experiences of other people, felt prepared but nothing could have prepared me for how I felt during and probably just as significantly, afterwards.

Often when I visit historical sites, like many other people, I like to take photographs. At Dachau, my camera never left my bag. I didn’t want to take any photographs. I just wanted to be allowed to be in a quiet place. The visiting school kids spoilt this to start off but thankfully, they moved away. I can’t tell you what I thought about because I can’t remember thinking. I was just there, silent, in awe,unable to verbalise anything. There were no words I could force out even when I tried to think of something to say as some way of expressing the experience. All I can manage even now is that I was there and still can’t explain anything.

For someone who want to write or someone keen to travel the world, it seems a pretty poor show that I am stumped and have no where to put this. But this is my blog so I have given myself permission to add it here, sort of a guest post. Maybe I’ll write a few more guest posts that don’t necessarily belong here but as its my blog, it’s my rules. Hope you don’t mind.

It’s hard enough to kill someone (this isn’t personal experience) but even harder is disposing of the body in such a way that it’s never found.

Some have tried dumping bodies in water and found to their misfortune that the deceased came back to expose them.  Maybe you could use something similar to the following in one of your stories.

A corpse properly and lawfully buried at sea is unlikely to reappear but many criminals are unable to permanently dispose of a body in water. Take for example when a freshly caught shark vomitedImage result for shark attack up a surgically separated human arm, leading to a murder investigation. That victim was determined to be James Smith.

Some criminals throw bodies in a river, hoping that they’ll be carried away. Fortunately, this method usually leads to a quick detection of the body because they get entangled at the side of the river or stopped at a dam or they are seen floating by others.

A disposal in large lakes or oceans is more likely to hide the body. However, decomposing gases trapped beneath the skin can create a strong positive buoyancy bringing the body up to the surface or end up washed up on the shore. Bodies have also been discovered in the nets or lines of fishermen and occasionally, bodies are also discovered by divers.

Very cold water with little oxygen may even preserve bodies, allowing for an easier identification, as in the case of Margaret Hogg, the Wasdale Lady in the Lake. She was found after 8 years, with her body preserved like wax.

Don’t forget to get your copy of the best directory of its kind, in the world by clicking on the cover photo below –

BPCD Cover

Many fictional crime stories I have read tend to paint the police as competent, up against a suspect who is clever at the outset but is finally caught and brought to justice.

The reasons for the time delay between the commission of the crime and apprehension allows for the fictional story to be spread across hundreds of pages and introduce many characters and pieces of information to aid the reader in their decision-making as to who did it.

In real life, the time between the commission of the offence and apprehension usually occurs through the vast amount of information that has to be gathered and sifted before a suspect is identified, unless the suspect is know from the outset but this would make for a relatively short work of fiction.

However, there are times in real life when the delay in catching the suspect is created by the incompetence (in a very few cases) of the police or the cleverness of the suspect to manipulate the crime scene to such an extent that they manage to hide or disguise many of the clues that should have been found fairly quickly.

Take for instance a recently reported upon crime involving the death of an elderly lady, Una Crown in her own home in Wisbech, Cambridgshire.

Though one won’t find crime tape around an archaeological site, these two disciplines have many similarities (“Crime-scene-tape”).In a nut-shell, the first attending officers decided from what they could gather from the crime scene, that the victim had died accidently.  They concluded that she had fallen onto her cooker and in a panic suffered a heart attack and died.  This assumption, with hindsight, was a bit too quick to come to but when faced with a body that is either very badly burned (as in this case) or decomposed, it can be difficult to see conflicting evidence on the body such as stab wounds or bruising.  Even if they have been seen, the officers may think that they have been self-inflicted, especially when they have been presented with information suggesting suicidal tendencies on the part of the victim (not in the case of Una Crown).

This is why there will be a post-mortem in all instances where the death is unexpected and/or of a violent nature.  In the case in question, not only was the body badly burned (i.e. violent in nature) but it was also unexpected in that she wasn’t being treated for an imminently terminal illness.

It was at the post-mortem that stab wounds were found to the victim’s neck and chest, leading to the death being considered particularly suspicious. Had this been spotted from the outset, the scene should have been treated as a crime/murder scene.  A lot of evidence would have been gathered from the house and a great deal of information would have been uncovered about the victim and in all probability, the suspect.  As it was, the officers who first attended the house saw nothing they thought suspicious and so didn’t treat the scene accordingly.

This may smack of incompetence on their part but to give such an error credibility in your stories, you could consider any or all of the following:

  • The officers that attended the scene first were inexperienced, new to the job and failed to recognise the gravity of what they were confronted with.
  • The officers may have been more experienced but generally incompetent, especially when it came to crime investigation.
  • The officers could have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • The officers could have become blasé because they had attended several natural sudden deaths recently and saw this as just another.
  • They may have attended a sudden death in the past, called out the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) only to be rebuked and ridiculed by the SIO for not seeing the obvious signs of a natural death or a clear case of suicide.

To give the suspect more credibility, it could have been a deliberate act by them to stage the crime scene: to make it look like one incident rather than what it actually was.  It’s not unusual for a husband to make his killing of his wife look like a bungled burglary by smashing a window to the property before giving it a ransacked appearance.  Their intention being to make the police think that the wife had disturbed the burglar in the act and had been killed by that burglar so as to prevent their subsequent identification.

It has been known for suspects to stage a murder to look like a suicide or an accident, similar to this case.  An elderly person could be expected to have a heart attack late in life or even a fall due to being unsteady on their feet.  They may just be unfortunate enough to fall onto their gas or electric fire and the burn injuries may well cover up strangulation or heavy blows to the head or body.

Would you rather go for the incompetent cop or the clever murderer in your stories?

For more information about the case in question follow:

Don’t forget to get your copy of the best directory of its kind, in the world by clicking on the cover photo below –

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Good Cop, Bad Cop
you’re probably used to seeing them conducting interviews or in the US, Image result for british police officerinterrogations. They tend to be colleagues with a working relationship, usually to get the suspect to confess. However, there is another scenario where you could feature a “good cop, bad cop” relationship.

Looking at the following articles it would be easy to believe that your bad cop could be the chief of police, whilst the good cop could be the one trying to bring the chief down and to justice.

How else would you consider using this clichéd relationship?

Bad Cop

Good Cop

Don’t forget to get your copy of the best directory of its kind, in the world by clicking on the cover photo below –

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BPCD CoverThe most comprehensive directory of its kind, the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers is the police adviser on your tablet/computer/phone.  It is an easy-to-use launch pad for learning more about the police, policing methods and crime investigation.

To view a sample of the book or to download it, click on the book’s cover to the left.

To learn more about its content, read on.

The five parts of the book look at:

  • How to make contact with a particular UK police force, agency or associated government department.
  • What information can be provided to the writer/researcher, how and by whom?
  • Where to locate (free of charge) some of the very same practice guides the police use to investigate serious and serial crime as well as over 200 other manuals and documents that examine and describe how the police should work in the following categories:
    • Recruitment and Training
    • Crime and Investigation
    • Custody and Detention Matters
    • Firearms and Public Order Policing
    • Forensics
    • Incidents and the Police National Computer and Database
    • Intelligence Matters
    • Interviewing
    • Legislation
    • Missing Persons and Children
    • Other Law Enforcement Agencies
    • Overseas Matters
    • Personal Protective Equipment
    • Publications about the Police
  • Which 100 websites every writer and researcher should know about?
  • Where to find 37 authentic video clips describing ways in which the police really work, including following a murder investigation from start to finish and finally
  • Which 58 books about the police, policing, crime and writing crime fiction may the writer and researcher find useful?

In a nutshell, you’ll be able to learn about how to become a police BPCD Coverofficer: what the application process consists of: what the role entails: what training courses officers can undertake: what technology is available to aid investigations: how an arrest is carried out along with what powers the police have: the procedures they should follow and how they should conduct their investigations and interviews.

You will find who within a police force or associated agency can help you: how you can legally obtain information from them: explanations of some of the terminology used:  You can also discover how public order and firearms incidents should be policed as well as how missing persons’ investigations should be conducted.

The book will prove indispensable to those wishing to bring authenticity and realism to their writing to create a convincing, believable story.

With the aid of this comprehensive directory, your readers will not be questioning your facts or research methods but will focus on the heart of the matter – “whodunnit”?

Want to see a sample or download your very own copy of this unique book, just click on the book cover to the right.


“This was the call he’d been waiting for.   The controller had just dispatched an armed response unit to an alarm activation at the High Street bank.  Thankfully, listening to the police radio broadcasts allowed the award-winning investigative journalist and crime reporter to get to police incidents as they unfolded rather than at some pre-arranged police briefing hours after the event.”

I remember when as a kid, I had a very large portable radio with multiple bands on it. I would often lie in bed at night and tune in to listen to police radio chatter. It was fun trying to determine who I was listening to and on a few occasions, I even managed to locate the police patrolling around my area.

When I joined the police, I knew from personal experience why people such as reporters were often on the scene of a crime or an accident about the same time that I arrived. They either listened to police broadcasts on their wireless radio or scanner.  It was hard in those days to have secrets or to keep them for very long.

Most of the times, things were in the public interest with nothing to hide. However, there was always that element who sought to exploit the technology of the day for their own ends i.e. the commission of crime.

Image result for airwaves police radioThankfully, today in the UK, it is not possible for Joe public to listen to police broadcasts. All radio transmissions are digital, over a secure Airwave network. The only way to listen to what is being said, is either to possess a stolen police radio, which won’t stay usable for long after it is reported lost or stolen or to overhear a police officer or PCSO using or listening to their own radio.

The UK is unlike the U.S., where many police transmissions are unencrypted and the use of even a cheap radio scanner will allow anyone to listen into police chatter as it happens.

So, think twice if you want to include police radio conversations or information from them in your UK-based stories.

For more information on the current usage by North Yorkshire Police of the Airwave system, have a look at the following document – Airwave Radio Operating Procedure

Also be very mindful that the contract between the police and Airwave is due to end around April 2016 and as yet there is no known alternative service provider or replacement police technology.  As things look, the way the police communicate after April 2016 may change significantly.  Read the following article for more information – Police radios to be killed off

The most comprehensive policing directory in the world for writers and researchers can be found by following this link.

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I’m not talking or writing here about cruelty to children or even some sub-branch of the said society.

What NPCC stands for is the National Police Chiefs’ Council.  It belongs in the United Kingdom and whilst the name is new and the Council not yet operational, it is coming on 1st April 2015.

The NPCC is the body being created to take the place of the Association of Chief Police Officers or ACPO which has been around since 1948.

“Why should I care,” you may ask?

Well, every police officer of and above the rank of Assistant Chief Constable/Commander was a member of ACPO, which not only represented its members when it came to their roles and responsibilities but also directed the way the police should operate in this country and advise the government on the way it should tackle issue of national significance.

If you are wanting to cast an ACPO ranked officer in one of your stories, such as a corrupt or heroic Chief Constable (this IS NOT aimed at Sara Thornton or Hugh Orde- see below), you may wish to demonstrate your knowledge through reference to their role within ACPO e.g. the Lead on Organised Crime. This would be ok if your story was to be set in the past.  If however, it is due to be set post 31st March 2015, ACPO will be replaced by the NPCC and will need referring to as such.

Sir Hugh Orde stepped down as the President of ACPO and (the current) Thames Valley Police Chief Constable Sara Thornton has taken over as the lead for the National Police Chiefs’ Council.  She was formerly the Vice-President of ACPO.  Sara ThorntonThe new President of the NPCC is elected for two years with a maximum appointment of four years, subject to satisfactory performance.

The ACPO press release assures us that:

“The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) will help police cut crime and keep the public safe, by joining up the operational response to the most serious and strategic threats. Focussing on operational delivery and developing national approaches on issues such as finance, technology and human resources, it will work closely with the College of Policing, which is responsible for developing professional standards.

ACPO’s core role of bringing together the expertise of police leadership to coordinate operational policing and agree national approaches in the public interest will be transferred into the NPCC. The aim is to develop a modernised and improved coordinating body that will be sustainable and effective in supporting policing in delivering at the national level for the public.”

According to the Police Federation, nothing but the name has changed, oh and the fact that the Metropolitan Police will “host” the new body, which will remain independent of the Force.  Parliament by contrast are pleased that there will now become a clear distinction as to the NPCC’s role of coordinating operational policing, whilst the College of Policing is now solely responsible for policy-making and best practice.

However, be careful not to confuse the NPCC with the NPoCC which is the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC).  This is a unit opened last year to coordinate police officers and staff from across UK policing to support forces during large scale events and operations and in times of national crisis.

So, will you be using ACPO, NPCC or will you not bother?

Coming very soon – the most comprehensive policing directory for writers and researchers in the world.

How are you going to use armed police officers in your story?  Read the below and see if any of it helps you get them in there at the right time for the right reason.

One of the most respected aspects of British policing was that in the main, it went about its’ daily business unarmed, unlike many of their international colleagues.  Go back to the 1980s and the sole means of protection police officers in the UK had, was a wooden truncheon.  Men had one of around 16 inches or 40 cm in length, which they slipped into a truncheon pocket stitched into their trouser leg.  Police women had a much smaller one to fit in their handbags.

Over the years, the truncheon became a baton, much stronger and harder to break.  The old truncheons often snapped on impact.  Handcuffs that most criminals knew how to get out of were replaced with rigid style handcuffs that could also be used offensively.  Body armour or stab vests followed and have become lighter, tighter fitting and more resistant to knife attack and some calibre of bullet.  CS or Pepper Spray came along and was issued to all operational officers.  The latest piece of equipment in use now is the Taser, carried by a small number of uniformed patrol and firearms officers.A Taser stun gun is demonstrated.

Since the terrorist attacks in Paris this year, there have been calls to arm all operational officers with a Taser so that they are better able to defend themselves and detain a violent suspect:

I’m not sure how many officers when confronted by a suspect armed with a pistol or rifle, would choose to stand and confront them with their trusty 50,000 volt side-arm.

On the other hand, there are people such as the former Home Secretary David Blunkett calling for the police to “step back” from using the Taser, especially in the light of reports that they were drawn over 400 time against children in 2013:

It is important to note the word “drawn” as opposed to “used against,” as it has been found that often the mere production of a Taser has caused violent offenders to become more compliant.  Additionally, the weapon can be “Arced” to show the sparks between the two electrodes i.e. it works: it can also be used in “Drive Stun” mode which is best imagined as how a stun gun would be used rather than the firing of barbs into/onto the body before pulsing the electric charge.

It’s also worth noting that the use of a Taser is seen as less lethal than a baton strike which can cause far more serious and lasting bodily injury than a Taser, which why some members of the public ask why resort to a Taser so early on or even at all?  Isn’t it a last resort?  The answer is very much – NO.

A comprehensive Q&A with the Association of Chief Police Officers can be found at:

However, along with the call to equip more officers with Taser, there has been an increase in the number of times that trained firearms officers have been deployed to non – life threatening incidents.  This isn’t because more officers are armed.  Greater Manchester Police only recently intended to reduce the number of armed officers they employed.  This decision has since been rescinded:

The Metropolitan Police by contrast have decided to increase their number of trained firearms officers to combat the threat of terror attacks in London:

But along with the austerity cuts in Police budgets, there has been a reduction in total officer numbers which has led to fewer staff doing more work, hence armed officers are now being deployed to incidents more frequently than being held back awaiting incidents specifically needing their specialist skills in attendance.  Examples provided by the Daily Mail, include Thames Valley Police deploying armed officers to 8700 routine calls last year:

How will you factor authorised firearms officers and Taser deployment and use into your stories?

Coming very soon – the most comprehensive policing directory for writers and researchers in the world.

I came across the below article by Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mail the other day and wondered what you may think about it.  Could its’ theme of this article feature in or shape any of your stories?

After more than 40 years as a journalist at home and abroad, often experiencing history at first hand, I am certain of only one thing – that most people in power are completely clueless about what they are doing.

They seldom, if ever, think. They know no history. They are fiercely resistant to any facts that might upset their opinions. They take no trouble to find out what is actually happening.

Here is an example. Ian Austin MP, a member of Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee, last week extruded the following opinion: ‘The police’s number one job is to catch criminals so they can be convicted.’ He was objecting to a scheme that gave priority to contact with the public.

I am pretty sure the same dim view is shared across Parliament, in every police HQ and in most media outlets in the country. Yet it is utterly, totally mistaken. Every arrest and prosecution is, in fact, a failure by the police. It’s necessary, but it’s also secondary.

Their job, the reason we hired them in 1829, was to prevent crime and disorder. That’s what the constable’s oath says, and they successfully did prevent huge amounts of crime and disorder for more than a century, by patrolling on foot.

And so it continued until the country went mad 50 years ago in the first heady years of the Age of Mistakes in which we continue to live – the era of instant mashed potato, Jimmy Savile, Watney’s Red Barrel, tower blocks, comprehensive schools, votes for teenagers, inner ring roads, the Common Market and Dr Beeching’s railway massacre.What use is a police officer after a crime has been committed, unless he can do first aid?

Most of those errors were made in public view, cheered on, as usual, by the political and commentating classes who invariably mistake novelty for progress. 

But the decision to abolish police foot patrols went unnoticed at the time. It was only afterwards that British people of a certain age wondered where the police – once visible everywhere – vanished to.

For the decision was taken in secret, by an unknown body called the Home Office Police Advisory Board, on December 7, 1966. It was adopted by new, unwieldy and unresponsive merged police forces that were created soon afterwards. 

Since then, the police do not prevent crime or disorder. They wait for it to happen, and then come rushing along to the scene of their failure, accompanied by loud electronic screams and wails and flashing lights.

What use is a police officer after a crime has been committed, unless he can do first aid? He cannot unstab, unshoot, unburgle, unmug or unrape the victim. 

Nothing he does can bring back what has been lost. The chances are that he cannot find or catch the culprit – and if he does, the miscreant will get off anyway, and skip, laughing, down the steps of the courthouse, as two did last week.

If you wait for people to commit crimes before you do anything, you will never, ever be able to build enough prisons to hold them.

It’s obvious if you think about it. It’s not obvious if you don’t. 

Do you agree that the police should be patrolling more on foot to deter crime or do you think the same function can be performed in other ways?

One thing to bear in mind is that there is no way to realistically measure just how much crime the police or their style of policing, reduces or prevents crime or disorder.

Maybe the important question is how does the public feel most reassured that they are safe?  Does the sight or more police officers reassure or worry you?

Coming soon – the most comprehensive policing directory for writers and researchers in the world.


You want to hide your suspect from the reader for as long as possible but how can you do it?

In the news recently, West Yorkshire Police announced that it was doing away with the traditional helmets in favour of peaked caps as they are now more practicable and in keeping than the helmets.  Thames Valley Police got rid of their five-years ago.West Yorkshire-Police-Helmet

There is no clarification as to what is meant by peaked caps but in all probability, they will be the flat caps that can be seen worn in the main by Traffic cops (with or without the slashed peak).  There are however many officers around the country that are now wearing baseball style caps with “Police” embroidered across the front and maybe a checked band around the back.  Often, they belong to some plain clothed team.

Believe it or not, you can buy a Police style baseball cap on e-bay for around £5 or from stores such as for around £10.  At least Police Supplies ask that the buyer furnish a Force name and Collar Number with each purchase.  Just what checks they put in place to verify the authenticity of this information, I am unsure but I am certain that those on e-bay will be sold to anyone with money to pay in some form or another.

So it is easy to see how a suspect could get hold of a Police baseball cap.  Black trousers and black tee shirts aren’t hard to find and along with a nice pair of black boots, the look is almost complete, especially to the untrained eye of a traumatised victim or witness.

But how about the helmet or flat/peaked cap?  Well, believe it or not, even police buildings are burgled (more times than you would expect) and police cars are often broken into.  Some folk merely like to collect police uniform by any means, whilst others have a more nefarious use for it.

Could your suspect get hold of some police uniform?  How would they get hold of it and what are they going to do with it?  How long could they hide from the investigator?  Could they mingle at the scene or be helping in some way, say with the fingertip searching or even gathering information about the progress of the investigation or identifying their next victim.  Would any other cops at the scene notice the suspect?

Choices, choices.