Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

There was a time when anyone working for the UK police was either a police officer or a civilian employee of the force.  Just two categories, one dealing with administrative and support functions of the service and the other providing the legal means by which to carry out their prescribed functions i.e. preventing and detecting crime and maintaining public safety and order.

The civilian employees have over the years gone through various name changes from “civvies” to today’s Police Support Staff although this may differ from force to force.  Essentially, these have been the two contracted and paid roles.  Even from the original inception of the Police in the 1800s there have been Special Constables providing their time and expertise free of charge to each force.

With the introduction of Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs), a new tier of policing evolved.  Some of the tasks allocated to police officers were devolved to PCSOs, especially tasks that didn’t require police powers to carry them out.  However, since the implementation of austerity measures and reduced funding, forces have been required to adjust the way they have done business in order to save money.  Since 80% of police budgets is spent on wages, the 20% saving required, naturally meant that some staff would have to be lost one way or another.  The volume of work rarely decreases so less staff have found themselves over-stretched performing more work that previously. Specialist roles have had to be either reduced in number or increased in range of responsibility.

To aid this change, most forces have, at the suggestion of the College of Policing looked at what roles they have that any person could carry out on a voluntary basis.  These roles should not entail contact with sensitive data or issues so tasks such as filing, transporting and freeing up other staff were to be considered.  Some forces have extended these roles to look at what specialism can be offered for free to the service.  Specialists in IT or forensic science readily spring to mind.  The spectrum of roles has been stretched so far in some forces that they now had statement takers, interviewers, scene of crime specialists and internet intelligence officers.  The original idea of taking on volunteers specified that no job should be handed to a volunteer that a paid employee had done or should be doing.  Naturally, the unions are concerned about the way the original idea is developing but forces cannot be turned away from ways to save a buck.

Read – We’ll have no cash left to fight crime: Police chief claims cuts will take bobbies off the beat

 

This obviously has inherent dangers.  Who are these people offering to do voluntary work for the police.  In some cases, they are retired police officers and support staff.  Some are members of the community who want to help support their local officers in any way they can.  Others may however, be offering their services to gain prestige associated with working with the police to improve their own advantages or they may even have been recruited by a criminal organisation to infiltrate the police.  These are the people the forces need to weed out but can they and could you use such individuals in your story?  If so, what role would they undertake?  How would they garner information of value to themselves or their criminal associates?  Would they be caught out and if so how?  How much damage could they cause, for how long and to whom?

Run your ideas or observations past me and see what comes up.

Lincolnshire Police 1000 Volunteer Challenge

http://www.lincs.police.uk/Join-Us/Volunteers/Lincolnshire-Police-1-000-Volunteer-Challenge-Project.html

West Yorkshire Police – Volunteers in Policing –

http://www.westyorkshire.police.uk/recruitment/volunteers-policing

Being a Police Volunteer –

http://www.communityhelpers.co.uk/how-be-police-volunteer.html

Anti-speed Volunteers in Sussex –

http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/11647293.Anti_speed_volunteers_write_22_500_reports_for_police_in_Sussex/

 

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There was a time when a cop could be any shape or size, providing they could pass the initial recruitment requirements regarding fitness and a medical. Some recruits were even allowed to join the police even though they hadn’t passed the fitness test but improved their fitness levels before they reached the end of their two year probationary period to pass the fitness test, otherwise they would not be confirmed as a Constable and would have their service dispensed with as being unfit for Office.

Fat Cop

Over the years there have been concerns expressed regarding the fitness levels of those officers over their remaining service for their remaining 28 years.  They may have been fit up to their confirmation at the two year point but too many donuts and too much sitting does nothing for the waist line of anyone, cop or otherwise.  Consequently, there have been some cops unfit to do their job effectively, hence the demand for the police to raise their standards and to make sure their officers are fit enough to perform their job: particularly chasing after evading criminals.

In August 2014, the College of Policing issued guidance on how police forces in England and Wales should carry out officer fitness tests.  They proposed a test, based on scientific evidence, designed to match the aerobic demands of personal safety training. This is the same standard used when recruiting officers.

The test involves a 15-metre shuttle run, to be completed to an endurance level of 5:4. There is no obstacle course or upper strength testing as part of this annual fitness test.  If an officer is not able to pass the fitness test at the first attempt, the College advises forces to provide support and allow a series of at least two retakes. If all appropriate support measures and alternatives have been delivered and the officer is still unable to achieve the required standard, the College advises forces to use the unsatisfactory performance procedures as set out in the Police (Performance) Regulations 2012 procedure to dispense with their services.

Has your cop had their annual fitness test and if so did they pass or fail miserably with an associated action plan now in hand?  Are they dreading taking the test and trying whatever way to avoid taking the test or do they have a particular view on the implementation of the policy?

A recent Freedom of Information Request by the Mirror newspaper received responses from 30 of the 45 forces in the UK.  The responses revealed that almost 1500 cops were found last year to be unfit for their job: that was about 2% of those tested.  Women fared worse than their male colleague.  There is no information provided about the normal roles of those who failed or whether they had any underlying health conditions, so all in all should it not be celebrated that 98% of cops tested were deemed fit enough?  Some would counter this with the fact that whilst the police pass rate is 5.4, others such as the Royal Marine pass mark is 9.2,

New Recruits are also required to pass a Dynamic Strength test, which involves performing 5 seated chest presses and 5 seated back pulls on a piece of equipment called a “dyno”. The average force of the 5 pushes/pulls is the recorded score. Recruits have the opportunity to perform 3 practice pull/pushes immediately followed by their 5 recorded attempts.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/overweight-cops-not-up-job-4296668#ixzz3DylnpcZD%20

 

Sounds Like a Good Idea

Posted: April 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

There aren’t many opportunities for the aspiring writer of crime fiction to tap into the brains and experiences of others associated with the field but below you will find details of such an opportunity so have a look and see if it could meet your needs –

A weekend festival for crime writers and readers

Spend a weekend getting under the skin of a fictional crime with top crime writers, criminologists, lawyers, police and forensics experts. New Writing North and Northumbria University invite crime writers (aspiring or established) and readers to Crime Story – a weekend of discussion and workshops focusing on a fictional crime and how it would be investigated in real life.

Ann Cleeves, prize-winning author of the Vera Stanhope series (now a major ITV series) and Shetland Island Quartet series, has created a crime especially for this weekend. (To read the crime click here.) Throughout the Crime Story weekend criminologists and forensic scientists will give insights into how labs work, experts in policing will talk you through scene of the crime procedure and journalists will discuss the moral responsibility of reporting on heinous crimes. There will also be prize-winning crime writers at the festival – Louise Welsh, Margaret Murphy (AD Garrett) and Ann Cleeves – who will talk about how to incorporate the forensic facts into fiction. Participants will be guided ably throughout the weekend by author and former crime fiction critic for The Observer Peter Guttridge.

This is an unmissable opportunity for any lover of crime fiction, whether you’re an aspiring writer or want to dig deeper into your favourite, fictional world. To find out more about Crime Story, and to book your place, go to www.crimestory.co.uk.

Don’t forget your copy of Writers, Researchers and the Police at an introductory price to the first 50 purchasers. For more information follow the image below

Writers, Researchers and the Police 2014 Cover

Many of us in the UK have resorted to buying and fitting an electronic navigation aid in preference to thumbing our way through creased, grubby maps and gazetteers.

Whilst there are many advantages to using a Sat Nav, how many of us have got lost when relying on them or ended up going a longer way around a town than needed.

You either love them or hate them but when it comes to fiction, where do you stand?

Have you incorporated them into a story yet and if not why not?  I know they don’t sound the most glamorous of items but when you have digested the following, you may just change your mind.

In August 2011, a Lithuanian born Vitalija Baliutaviciene was reported missing by her young son when she failed to return home at the end of the day.  She had previously been threatened and assaulted by her ex-husband who had followed her to Cambridgeshire in the UK following their divorce.

Thankfully the local police took her disappearance seriously and began a detailed investigation, which led them fairly quickly to suspect her ex-husband, Rimas Venclovas.  It appeared from analysis of CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) footage that he had attacked and abducted his ex-wife in the UK on her way to work.  He had bundled her into his van and within 58 minutes had killed her before driving off.  Her body could not be found anywhere near the site of attack or abduction.

To see video footage of the abduction click here

By virtue of the fact that both people were Lithuanian, this became an international investigation, especially as Venclovas couldn’t be located at first. 

Following painstaking mobile telephony enquiries Venclovas was arrested in Lithuania for the murder and Kidnap of Vitalija but her body was nowhere to be found.  His van, which was recovered revealed no clues, nor were any found at his home address.  However, amongst property seized from him was the Sat Nav from the van he had been seen driving in the UK.

This is the first known case where a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) has exploited the data of a Sat Nav to the extent seen in this case. Despite being told by the manufacturers that only limited data could be extracted from the Sat Nav, he continued to seek further information from the equipment, finally succeeding in recovering its ‘inner files’.

These were analysed and they revealed that Venclovas had travelled from Lithuania to the UK and back around the time of the disappearance of Vitalija.

It was considered possible, using the data from the Sat Nav that her body could have been dumped anywhere along the route, he had travelled across 6 European countries after leaving the UK.

Cambridgeshire Constabulary Creating a safer CambridgeshireThe Cambridgeshire Constabulary detectives (part of the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Major Crime Unit) identified from analysis of the Sat Nav that Venclovas had stopped at various points along the route back to Lithuania.  They asked Interpol to circulate the co-ordinates of these stops to the police in the respective countries.

The police in Poland responded, reporting the discovery of a female body, buried in a shallow grave in the region of Lutol Suchy, Poland, within 50 metres of one of the sets of coordinates.  The body was identified through DNA as Vitalija Baliutaviciene (the ex-wife of Venclovas).

After a 7 week trial at The Old Bailey, a jury unanimously convicted Venclovas of Vitalija’s murder and kidnap. He was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment.

Watch the BBC Crimewatch programme about the case here

So, as you can see, the outcome of the thorough analysis of the Sat Nav was a fully mapped journey of a kidnap and homicide, the recovery of a body and most importantly, a conviction for murder. 

Would this example help you develop your story or could your killer find a way to thwart the investigation (other than not using a Sat Nav in the first place)?

Don’t forget your copy of Writers, Researchers and the Police at an introductory price to the first 50 purchasers. For more information follow the image below

Writers, Researchers and the Police 2014 Cover

Before submitting the obvious anatomical answer, I really want to see if there are any writers out there who exercise at their desk whilst writing and if so, what do they do? I ask because I have just seen a newspaper article showing a woman walking on a treadmill adjacent to her raised desk, which she uses to get her daily exercise whilst still working at her PC.

LifeSpan TR5000-DT5 Commercial Workplace Treadmill Desk

I am aware of some writers who have used exercise balls to sit on. Is there a majority consensus – ball or treadmill/exercise bike?

Me? I just have a boring old chair and occasionally shuffle my feet once my legs go numb.

For more information on the article, follow this link –

Daily Mail – The-treadmill-desk-allows-exercise-believe-claims-make-MORE-productive

Don’t forget your copy of Writers, Researchers and the Police at an introductory price to the first 50 purchasers. For more information follow the image belowWriters, Researchers and the Police 2014 Cover

You read the other week about the Bobby Tax in London, now we have the Welsh Police Apprentices but what are they?

Skills for Justice, in partnership with the College of Policing, Association of Chief Police Officers, Welsh and UK Government departments and four Welsh police forces developed a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Home Office Policing for newly recruited Police Constables.  The qualification is also known as  ‘The Bridge.’

Skills for Justice

   The initiative is embedded within the pre-existing Initial Police Learning   Development Programme (IPLDP) that all new officers undergo.  It includes supervised and independent patrol and the apprentices have warranted powers, in line with any other newly recruited PC.

The Bridge includes work-based mentoring and classroom work towards Essential Skills Wales (ESW) qualifications and study towards employee rights and responsibilities.  The apprentices complete ESW qualifications in communications at Level 3, Information and Communication Technology at Level 2 and application of numbers at Level 2.

Justine Burgess, Programme Lead at Skills for Justice, said: “These qualifications recognise that the apprentices have the skills needed to help them perform competently and effectively in their roles as police officers in today’s society.”

Eighty-four new police officers from across Wales have now completed their initial training under the apprenticeship programme. There are 16 officers from Dyfed-Powys Police, 44 officers from South Wales Police and a further 24 officers from Gwent Police.

There are currently 231 apprentices enrolled on the programme across Wales and they are due to complete their apprenticeships between 2014 and 2015.

The big question is how on earth will this affect us, policing and the public at large?  Well now you/we will know that in Wales at least, cops know how to write, spell and count.  Believe it or not, this has been a problem in the service over at least the last ten years especially since text speak became the norm for many youngsters.

Cases have even been lost because of these basic incompetencies.

Don’t forget your copy of Writers, Researchers and the Police at an introductory price to the first 50 purchasers. For more information follow the image belowWriters, Researchers and the Police 2014 Cover

To use it you need to know what it is first of all, so without wishing to insult those in the know, here is a basic guide.

ANPR is an Automatic Number Plate Recognition system, linked to roadside cameras and the Police National Computers (PNC) database of over 45 million motor vehicles in the UK.

Most of those vehicles are recorded on the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency’s (DVLA) database of vehicles registered for use in the UK.  Some foreign vehicles will exist on the PNC but they are usually of “interest” to the police for reasons such as it has been stolen or used in crime whilst in the UK or abroad.

ANPR Cameras courtesy of the BBCAccording to recent revelations, there are now over 8,000 cameras in the network, with senior officers hopeful of extending it further because they regard ANPR as a key tool that helps to cut crime and save lives.

Privacy campaigners have their own views on the existence and use of ANPR technology.

It is claimed that the ANPR CCTV cameras on Britain’s road take around 26 million photographs every day.  That means that every vehicle passing those cameras is photographed, innocent or not.  This means that the National ANPR Data Centre (NADC)  holds around 17 billion photographs in its archive.  This is thought to be the world’s largest such database.

Two images are taken of every vehicle – one focused on the number plate, the second on the whole car, which often includes the face of the driver. Details on the time of day and direction of travel are also kept.  The pictures can be kept for up to two years and cross-checked for “hits” against the Police National Computer and other “hotlist” databases, including the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and the Motor Insurers’ Bureau.

Now, when any serious crime has been committed, one of the Senior Investigating Officer’s first ports of call is to have ANPR covering the area of and around the crime scene secured and checked.   This action alone can be enough to either put people into or out of the pot of potential suspects.

The ANPR cameras are not all fixed in one location either.  Most if not all UK police forces now have a mobile ANPR capability that can be deployed in areas where there is no fixed coverage or to cover specific noteworthy event.

SO, are these cameras going to aid or hinder the investigation in your story?  Did they or would they ever have existed without the above news?

To see one of the success stories about catching a sex attacker, follow this link –

http://www.crawleynews.co.uk/Porn-drug-addicted-father-jailed-sex-attack/story-20473605-detail/story.html

To view the Police information about ANPR, follow this link –

http://www.police.uk/information-and-advice/automatic-number-plate-recognition/

To view a newspaper article about ANPR follow this link –

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/jan/23/cctv-cameras-uk-roads-numberplate-recognition

Don’t forget your copy of Writers, Researchers and the Police at an introductory price to the first 50 purchasers. For more information follow the image below

Writers, Researchers and the Police 2014 Cover

What’s a Bobby Tax and Why?

Posted: January 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

The Metropolitan Police Service have never really struggled to attract applicants to join them.  In fact over the years many of those interested were from all over the country, most of whom couldn’t get into their local force so saw the Met as their way into the service.  After a few years in London, they would invariably transfer out to their preferred counties.

This leakage didn’t really phase the Met as they had a constant supply of wanna joins.

Metropolitan Police ServiceHowever in recent years, it has been accepted that the Met Police Service do not reflect the demographics of the community they police.  Great concern rose as to how best to address this imbalance and how to recruit more people from across the whole spectrum of London’s society.

This concern now seems to have melted away as they look now at only looking for potential recruits from a pot of London people who have obtained a Certificate in Policing at a cost to themselves of around £1000 even though there is no guarantee of a job even if the candidate passed the course with flying colours.   This simple requirement alone has probably excluded many sections of the London society that either can’t afford to pay for their own eduction or can’t afford the time to embark on a course with no guarantee at the end of it.

Is this really the way to go and will it really create a more diverse workforce or an affluent white male dominated service?

http://www.thisislocallondon.co.uk/news/10946132.MP_says__bobby_tax__will_exclude_poor_from_joining_police/

http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/454375/Police-recruits-facing-1-000-justice-system-course-fee-with-no-job-guarantee

Will it affect your stories of the future or does it give you material to create a police service of the future – almost a Sci-Fi – Crime Fiction story?

Let me know your thoughts!

Don’t forget your copy of Writers, Researchers and the Police at an introductory price to the first 50 purchasers. For more information follow the image below

Writers, Researchers and the Police 2014 Cover

You’re reading a crime novel, totally absorbed in the author’s style, the setting and so far, the pace of the book.

Lets say that the telephone at the victims house was used after her death.  The receiver is hanging off the hook.  It would be a safe guess that the suspect handled the receiver to place or receive a call.  Fingerprints are found.  DNA is recovered from saliva around the mouth piece.  It’s the only clear forensic sample to be found. There are others samples on the receiver but they have been contaminated beyond use by the last handler.

However, it is revealed that the suspect may never be caught because the police managed to destroy vital evidence.

How so? Well believe it or not, the first officer on the scene was not your traditional, fictional Senior Investigating Officer but PC Bigfoot, dressed in a distinctive patrol uniform.  The Constable took it upon himself to call his wife on the deceased’s telephone to let her know that he would be late home from work as he was likely to be stuck at the murder scene for some time.  Is that really plausible?  Would your readers believe it if you’d written it?

Well, if you want to complicate a “simple” murder investigation, throw in the incompetent first officer on the scene.  They do exist.  Look at the following article for just one example.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2538694/Police-admit-destroyed-vital-evidence-Wisbech-murder-case.html

Oh, by the way, Senior Detectives have been known to get it wrong as well, deeming them self far cleverer than the forensic team that is likely to follow them into the scene.

Don’t forget your copy of Writers, Researchers and the Police at an introductory price to the first 50 purchasers. For more information follow the image below

Writers, Researchers and the Police 2014 Cover

Before I go live with my first book, Writers, Researchers and the Police, I want to give my readers and followers the chance be amongst the first 50 to benefit from the early bird introductory offer.

The book contains more than 500 ways to gain information about and from the Police, associated Agencies and Government departments in the UK.

It is the only guide of its kind in the world and is an essential reference book to help you obtain accurate and current information for your writing.

For more information and an extract of the book, click on this link – Writers, Researchers and the Police

There are often reports in the media of police officers not maintaining the standards expected of them by both the public and the Police’s own Code of Conduct.  In the main, these are lower ranking officers from Constable up to Inspector ranks.  Their failings can centre around theft, assault, drug use and supply, perjury and a variety of road traffic offences.

To deal with such individuals, each force had units that investigated such officers.  The units were called Discipline and Complaints or Complaints and Discipline Departments or other derivatives of those words.  These have been replaced by the standardised term of Professional Standards Departments (PSD).  They tend to investigate or supervise investigations into complaints against the police, generally made by members of the public.  They can also investigate officers whom they suspect may be involved in any form of corruption or organise crime (regardless of whether or not a complaint about that officer has been received).  Some forces have now built Anti-Corruption Units to deal solely with this aspect, leaving the more “minor” matters to PSD or even local senior or middle ranking officers to deal with.

However, over recent years there seem to have been more and more police officers above the rank of Chief Superintendant dismissed and/or prosecuted for being involved in corrupt activities such as fraud and perjury.

A glance at the news relating to Chief Constables, Assistant Chief Constables and Commanders of the Metropolitan Police Service, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Cleveland Police will provide a few examples worthy of the crime fiction writer exploring.

What if your protagonist became aware of or embroiled with a senior chief officer of your chosen police force?  How could they have come across them?  Were they on the periphery of “unlinked” crime investigations such as organised drug or people trafficking or a paedophile ring?  Were they found to be “associating” with undesirable persons/suspects? What brought them to this place; did they feel owed, invincible, above the law or just downright cleverer than their staff?  Had they become indebted to the wrong type of person and that debt had been recalled?

How would their relationship develop?  Would the hero find themselves bullied and ostracised or the victim of some “random” attack?  Would the protagonist gain the support of colleagues or specialist investigators or will they have to seek help outside either the force or outside the police organisation all together?

What would the outcome be?  Who would survive to fight another day and who would profit or gain in the end? What would the role of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) be or would they somehow become implicit?

As a matter of historical fact, the IPCC reveal that between their inception in 2004 and 30/6/2010, they have received 55 complaints against senior chief officers.  Follow this link for more information.

See the following media reports for more ideas and information –

http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/aug/04/police-corruption-inquiry-sean-price

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/206221.stm

http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2013/dec/20/trafficking-victims-forced-crime-let-down-police?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

http://www.nypa.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=6670

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-16979424

http://www.hmic.gov.uk/media/west-yorkshire-revisiting-police-relationships.pdf

Don’t forget to get your copy of Writers, Researchers and the Police for an introductory price to the first 50 purchasers. For more information follow the image below

Writers, Researchers and the Police 2014 Cover

Cuts in government funding have led to significant changes being made to the way the Police in the UK are doing business.

Several thousand officers have been lost, civilian support staff made redundant and equipment kept beyond its original life expectancy.

Even today, those losses haven’t been enough to meet the economic cuts the services still have to make.

For example, the Chief Constable Stephen Kavanagh of Essex Police has recently announced that the force still has to make savings over the next three years of around £36 million.  To help him decide how to manage this, he has a project set up called “Evolve.”  Some of their recommendations have been to close down the Force’s Mounted Branch and Marine Unit.  They are reducing the number of Dog Units they have from 52 to 40 and have redeployed many detectives from CID into Neighbourhood Policing Teams.

“So what,” you may think, has this got to do with my fiction?

Could be nothing at all.

Alternatively, it could shape your story.  Maybe the Mounted Branch or Dog Units are needed to help search an area of woodland for a missing person or a suspect.  Most Senior Investigating Officers believe that if they want/need something, it will be made available to them.  In the example above, they can’t have a horseback search if there are no horses.

Similarly, public order situations suffer from a lack of dogs and horses.  No Marine unit could make coastal crime easier to commit or exploit.

Taking detectives out of CID may lead to vulnerabilities in investigating serious crime or it may mean that you have a very experienced (low ranking) detective working at a local level and getting into local criminals’ lives (who may just be the Mr Big that is now being missed by the reduced CID).

Also don’t forget that these self and same detectives don’t just staff CID.  They are the backbone of specialist investigative units to such as Child Protection, Drugs and Organised Crime Teams and undercover operations.

How do you think your stories may be effected?

See http://www.essex.police.uk/news_features/other_stories/evolve_programme_update.aspx for more detail.

Don’t forget to get your copy of Writers, Researchers and the Police for an introductory price to the first 50 purchasers. For more information follow the image below

Writers, Researchers and the Police 2014 Cover

I’m Back

Posted: December 29, 2013 in Uncategorized

WikiFun Police Smiley

Apologies for the long enforced absence, which has finally come to a close.

Over the coming weeks, posts will emerge that will inspire the writers amongst you, provoke thought about the police, policing and the changes ahead.

So watch out for more posts in the coming weeks.

Don’t forget to get your copy of Writers, Researchers and the Police for an introductory price to the first 50 purchasers. For more information follow the image below

Writers, Researchers and the Police 2014 Cover

By the way, none of the ads that are appearing on these pages are anything to do with me.

A comprehensive shake-up of the police promotions process means that the OSPRE II Assessment process will be scrapped and replaced with work-based assessments.

The new National Police Promotion Framework (NPPF) for promotions to sergeant and inspector is to be adopted after this years OSPRE II assessments have been run.  This follows the successful trials and evaluations conducted by 7 police forces – Avon & Somerset Constabulary, Bedfordshire Police, Hertfordshire Constabulary, Merseyside Police, the Metropolitan Police Service, Sussex Police and Thames Valley Police.

Under the NPPF, officers who have completed their probation and are signed off as competent will be put forward for the OSPRE I written law exam (which is being retained) followed by an in-force assessment of their performance. This replaces the current OSPRE II (one-day behavioural) assessment.

Those officers who pass OSPRE I and the initial assessment will be promoted on a temporary basis and undergo a 12-month programme to evaluate their performance. If successful, their promotion will be made permanent.College of Polcing Badge

The College of Policing has endorsed the change after a recommendation by the Police Promotion Examinations Board (PPEB).

The College of Policing’s Chief Executive Alex Marshall said: “The introduction of the NPPF is the first significant change to the promotion process for many years. It will provide newly-promoted sergeants and inspectors with the necessary operational and leadership skills, developed in their local environments, to deliver a high quality service to the public.”

Further information about the National Police Promotions Framework will be posted on its website and in a series of regional meetings.

Think about the above when creating the biography of your supervisory officers (pre- 2014 they will have taken both OSPRE parts and post 2013 only part 1).  Could the mentoring and assessment that takes the place of OSPRE II lead to conflict or challenges in your stories?  I BET IT COULD

 

Following the success of the Spring Crime Fiction – Making it Real weekend workshop, the Autumn workshop is now open for booking.

It will help writers of any genre bring their stories to life as they find out how real police investigations work and delegates will pick up hundreds of ideas for their next stories.

The workshop will run from 17th to 18th November 2012 (inclusive) at the Premier Inn, Glasshoughton, Castleford, West Yorkshire.

   

What the weekend is about!

The following are some (but not all) of the topics that time and delegate requirements permitting may be covered over the weekend –

  • The history and the future of the police.
  • How is a police force organised and structured?
  • What does policing look like across the U.K, internationally and who is involved?
  • What are the terms and conditions that an officer must work to and how are they trained?
  • What work do the police focus upon, how and why?
  • What are the main crime types and what do they mean?
  • What are some of the more serious offences investigated by the police and how?
  • How is information turned into intelligence and how is that used?
  • What types of profiling are there and how are they used?
  • What types of offenders are there and what makes them tick?
  • How is a crime scene analysed?
  • What forensic techniques are used and why?
  • What are the rules regarding arresting, detaining, interviewing and charging an offender?

Time will be allowed for delegates’ specific questions and to explore how their plots and characters may be developed or made more realistic.

The exact content of the course will be tailored to meet the needs of the delegates.

There will also be several handouts as well as post workshop support and guidance available to all attendees, which will include over 100 police advice and guidance documents.

Some of the feedback from the delegates on that Spring workshop includes

Barbara  – Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the course.

I wanted a general overview of the police and procedures which I think you covered very well. Even if you don’t use a lot of it in the writing, it is useful background to get an idea of how a whole police station would operate. The stuff on the Major incident teams and crime scenes etc was very useful. I guess writers are also interested in dialogue so discussing interviews etc was also helpful.  I also found the stuff on who certifies death, the role of the coroner etc helpful.  The stuff on serious criminal, like rapists was very good as was the discussion of forensic profilers.  Just skimmed through the CD and it will be an excellent resource for us.

We were quite a demanding audience and you handled the questions very well. I really did enjoy it. A big part as well is the other attendees and I got a lot out of talking to the others in break times.

Caroline  – Thanks for a terrific course and for your individual attention with my plot, really appreciated. A great weekend and I am now energised and armed to complete the book hopefully with my cop facts right.

CJ – I wanted to thank you for a very stimulating and informative weekend. I learnt a lot and especially valued having my specific questions all dealt with. Overall, it was a fun weekend and a great experience and I will recommend it to other crime writers.  I could tell you put a lot into organising everything for us and it paid off big time.

Gareth – I’d like to thanks you so much for an amazing weekend.  I felt so fortunate to meet you and so many wonderful people.  The course was very informative.  The main strength of the course was you.  You were clearly knowledgeable and presented the information in a friendly, easy to understand way, but, above all, your great sense of humour made it so much fun.

Ian – It was a great course thanks,

Jan – It was brilliant.  I’ve done over 20 OU courses and about 13 summer schools – and this has to be up there with the best of them.  I really enjoyed the whole thing.

It was exactly what I needed to convince myself that non-police personnel stand a chance of writing crime – both from the point of view of the information received (and thank you so much for the DVD, it’s excellent) and from being able to meet with published authors and non-published authors in a friendly and supportive atmosphere.  I thought it did exactly what it said on the tin – it explained the structure and routines and left me in a much better position to track down my own information, and to know what level of information I need to include.

It was obvious so much thought had gone into the whole weekend.  I also felt the tone was exactly right.  Serious subjects, but tackled in an intelligent and light-hearted way, which was just the right balance for me.  I’d be back like a shot for further courses

Linda  – Just a quick line to say how much I enjoyed and appreciated this weekend. I think you covered every question I thought I might ask and covered a good many I didn’t even know I needed to ask! You surpassed all my expectations of what might be got out of the sessions, and I think I will be referring back to the information on the DVD for a long time to come.

Lesley – Firstly thanks for the workshop, you obviously did a lot of hard work to produce it.  I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. I got a lot from it and learnt things I didn’t know. In fact I have created a new main character for my next book from those who are co-opted onto the enquiry (more later). T he DVD of information is an excellent resource.  Weekends like this are as much about talking to other people during the breaks and in the evening as about the workshop itself and we had plenty of time for that.

Maggie – You often don’t realise what you want to know until you know it and it provokes further questioning! I was open to consuming new knowledge that I could utilise along the way within my writing. I think I gained a new perspective through the course.  At the time I felt that being informed about the different uniforms was not necessary – in hindsight I feel that it was totally in context with the rest of the content once I had done the two days. It helps that you can take notes of thought provoking ideas rather than have to scribble everything that is said down and miss the overall aim/ambience.  During the course it was thought provoking and I am sure many of us have come away with some ideas for plot lines.  All in all I would definitely recommend this course to anyone considering it. Meeting the variety of people that were there was also interesting, some of us will definitely stay in touch and thus we are able to widen our network of contacts/writers/new friends.  10/10!

Paul – I enjoyed the weekend immensely and it was tremendous value for money. The extensive CD alone was worth the workshop fee and it contains everything the crime writer could wish for.  I think you provided a very good ‘walk through’ of what actual happens at the scene of a major crime and the different roles etc.  In conclusion it was an excellent experience

Sheila – I got loads from the course.  Lots of little gems will stay in my mind for further use.  I love anecdotes from people’s working lives, details that you will never get from a manual such as the spitting prisoner in a cage in a van.  The role play on tracing a wanted bod taught me how to think investigation.

Tom – I found the weekend most useful and the content and materials we subsequently received will prove valuable reference sources for crime writing. I got all the factual material I needed – and more. In fact I would suggest you were over-generous in how much info you released.

Wanda – I just want to say how much I enjoyed the weekend, and I certainly learnt a great deal. I am also delighted with the CD. You have been very generous with your knowledge, time and information and I am sure that I will now have a much better idea on how to proceed with my crime novel.

The Costs and Stuff

The cost of the weekend is £160.  Lunch and refreshments each day are included in the price.

Places are limited to ensure each delegate has plenty of individual support.  So to secure your place on the workshop by paying a £50 deposit a.s.a.p.

A number of double rooms are available at the hotel at a promotional rate of £58 for Friday and £63 for Saturday night.

The venue is located adjacent to one of the country’s top tourist attractions – Xscape and Junction 32 Factory Outlet just off the M62 motorway.

English: Xscape in Castleford, West Yorkshire

English: Xscape in Castleford, West Yorkshire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Please feel free to pass information of this workshop to friends and colleagues and if you have any questions, please just get in touch – the.writer@hotmail.co.uk

As trade unions call their members onto the streets of London on May 10th and off-duty police officers also plan to voice their anger at government attacks on their pensions and conditions of service, will criminals make the Police pay?

A rally of the trade union UNISON in Oxford du...

A rally of the trade union UNISON in Oxford during a strike on March 28, 2006, with members carrying picket signs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As police support staff (union members) join the rallies and hold strike action, their warranted colleagues will be forced to back-fill the gaps left behind.  This will effectively reduce the number of operational officers.

Can you imagine a similar scenario happening in one of your stories and what could it lead to?

Will more crimes be committed?

Will more daring criminal ventures take place or will the remaining officers fall under attack themselves?

The sky’s the limit or is it just the extent of your imagination?

Just how many more ideas are there?  Check out The Verdicts Out

CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS / @CSI?cafe

CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS / @CSI?cafe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some of you may be under the impression that it’s hard making crime fiction realistic especially if you don’t have a contact in the police that can help you out.  Alternatively you may lock yourself away every now and again with a few hours’ worth of cop reality shows.

You may even know some of the following five tips but here goes anyway.

1.            Your detective generally is never the first on the scene of a serious crime.  They’re usually called in after the uniformed officers have ascertained that it is a crime worthy of a detective’s time and energy; so get uniformed cops there first.  They can always antagonise or support your plain clothed sleuth.

2.            Whilst ever there is a Detective Inspector (DI) on duty, there is always a uniformed duty Inspector working at the same time.  What’s yours doing whilst the DI is sorting out the scene?  The chances are that they have been holding the fort and managing the scene and the Golden Hour until the DI can get there.  What some antagonism in your story?  Set the two Inspectors at each other’s throats.

3.            The pathologist should be appointed by the HM Coroner to perform the post-mortem on the deceased after they have been notified by the Coroner’s Officer that a dead body has been found.  So if you want your pathologist at the scene, early on, have a reason for them getting there so early, such as they are the only one in the county or they have been specially requested by the senior investigating officer (SIO).  Don’t forget though that the SIOs are taught not to call the pathologist in too early as they have a tendency to put the SIO under pressure to open the crime scene up to them.  Want a fly throwing in the ointment?  Let the pathologist barge into the scene and contaminate or destroy evidence in front of the SIOs very eyes.  Or turn it around and let the novice SIO suffer the wrath of the seasoned pathologist.

4.            Most detectives do not have a penchant for expensive, unusual whisky or eclectic music.  They tend to be like Joe average: like normal everyday alcohol and average genres of music.  They also do not tend to go around spouting off about their taste in music and calling everyone else a heathen.  Try giving them a liking for Eurovision songs and home-brewed ale.

5.            There is however a high divorce rate amongst detectives.  To conflict with this fact, there are a good number of detectives that have been married and divorced many time. How many marriages could your detective have been through? They always say that they’ll never do it again but they invariably do.  They can’t help it.

BREAKING NEWS

Secure your place NOW on the November 2012 Crime Fiction – Making it Real, weekend workshop designed for writers interested in learning more about the police, their procedures and practices.  There will be time to immerse yourselves in case studies and to bring along your very own questions to be answered.  Check out the Autumn 2012 Workshop page for more details.

For more information, contact me via e-mail at  –

the.writer@hotmail.co.uk

Which would you choose?

Posted: April 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

Read the following report courtesy of the Modesto Bee news site and decide for yourself, would you exercise in your armoury or have bullets in your gym?

A 56-year-old man said he accidentally shot himself Wednesday night in downtown Modesto, but told officers no gun was involved.

Modesto police officers responded to the 600 block of Ninth Street about 9:15 p.m. They found a man with a gunshot wound in his shoulder, according to officer Chris Adams.

A dumbbell (Hantel)

A dumbbell (Hantel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The man told officers he was lifting dumbbells when he accidentally dropped one on a rimfire .22 caliber bullet. The man claimed the weight of the dumbbell activated the propellant powder in the bullet, which shot toward him and punctured his shoulder.

Adams said the officers found the man’s story suspicious, but not impossible.

Adams said the impact on the rim of one of these bullets could have caused it to shoot in the direction it is pointing.

Officers did not find a gun at the home but did find the shell casing from the .22 caliber bullet. Neighbors did not see anyone running from the man’s home.

Officers closed the case as a suspicious circumstance investigation, Adams said.

The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) was created in 2007 and at that time it took on responsibility for many areas of national policing support services.

However, the current Home Secretary Theresa May has recently announced that the NPIA would be dissolved, its portfolio split up and handed over to others.  She has now announced that the Central Witness Bureau, Crime Operational Support Unit, the National Missing Persons’ Bureau, Serious Crime Analysis Section and the Specialist Operations Centre would transfer to the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) from the beginning of April.  However, she has not made clear yet whether when SOCA morphs into the National Crime Agency (NCA)whether it will accept responsibility for these areas as well as taking on the Proceeds of Crime Centre in 2013.

The UK's new Home Secretary, Theresa May, givi...

The UK's new Home Secretary, Theresa May, giving speech to Home Office staff. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She also stated that “Work is continuing on the development of the police professional body and the new police ICT company.”

When it has been decided what the new policing professional body is, Ms May will confirm that the NPIA functions including learning and development, uniformed operational support and the National College of Police Leadership will transfer to it.

The Home Office will take over the NPIA’s Police Science and Forensics services, policy for special constables, the Automotive Equipment Section and management of the Airwave radio system to the Home Office.

All moves can be expected in autumn this year and we can look forward to new logos, launch parties and designer freebies and of course a much improved and cost efficient service.  I hope I’m not sounding too cynical but in 30 years, I’ve seen it happen often.

Will your detective be just as cynical as I may sound and how are the changes likely to affect the way they work?

If you’re not sure, you can either wait it out, ignore it altogether or sign up for the next Crime Fiction – Making it Real Weekend this autumn by dropping a line to me at the.writer@hotmail.co.uk 

BREAKING NEWS

Secure your place NOW on the November 2012 Crime Fiction – Making it Real, weekend workshop designed for writers interested in learning more about the police, their procedures and practices.  There will be time to immerse yourselves in case studies and to bring along your very own questions to be answered.  Check out the Autumn 2012 Workshop page for more details.

For more information, contact me via e-mail at  –

the.writer@hotmail.co.uk

It seemed a long time coming but when it did finally arrive, it flew.

From a personal point of view, the weekend far exceeded my expectations.  To top it all, I met a great bunch of people who were attentive, keen to learn and better still, keen to share their knowledge and help their peers.

What I’m talking about is the very first Crime Fiction – Making it Real weekend workshop, held at the West Yorkshire Police Training and Development Centre.

Delegates came to Wakefield from as far away as Avon and Somerset, Devon, Essex, the big city – London and Northumbria as well as places closer to the venue.

But don’t take my word for how good it was, read some of the feedback received –

Barbara  – Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the course.

I wanted a general overview of the police and procedures which I think you covered very well. Even if you don’t use a lot of it in the writing, it is useful background to get an idea of how a whole police station would operate. The stuff on the Major incident teams and crime scenes etc was very useful. I guess writers are also interested in dialogue so discussing interviews etc was also helpful.  I also found the stuff on who certifies death, the role of the coroner etc helpful.  The stuff on serious criminal, like rapists was very good as was the discussion of forensic profilers.  t skimmed through the CD and it will be an excellent resource for us.

We were quite a demanding audience and you handled the questions very well. I really did enjoy it. A big part as well is the other attendees and I got a lot out of talking to the others in break times.

Caroline  – Thanks for a terrific course and for your individual attention with my plot, really appreciated. A great weekend and I am now energised and armed to complete the book hopefully with my cop facts right.

CJ – I wanted to thank you for a very stimulating and informative weekend. I learnt a lot and especially valued having my specific questions all dealt with. Overall, it was a fun weekend and a great experience and I will recommend it to other crime writers.  I could tell you put a lot into organising everything for us and it paid off big time.

Gareth – I’d like to thanks you so much for an amazing weekend.  I felt so fortunate to meet you and so many wonderful people.  The course was very informative.  The main strength of the course was you.  You were clearly knowledgeable and presented the information in a friendly, easy to understand way, but, above all, your great sense of humour made it so much fun.

Ian – It was a great course thanks,

Jan – It was brilliant.  I’ve done over 20 OU courses and about 13 summer schools – and this has to be up there with the best of them.  I really enjoyed the whole thing.

It was exactly what I needed to convince myself that non-police personnel stand a chance of writing crime – both from the point of view of the information received (and thank you so much for the DVD, it’s excellent) and from being able to meet with published authors and non-published authors in a friendly and supportive atmosphere.  I thought it did exactly what it said on the tin – it explained the structure and routines and left me in a much better position to track down my own information, and to know what level of information I need to include.

It was obvious so much thought had gone into the whole weekend.  I also felt the tone was exactly right.  Serious subjects, but tackled in an intelligent and light-hearted way, which was just the right balance for me.  I’d be back like a shot for further courses

Linda  – Just a quick line to say how much I enjoyed and appreciated this weekend. I think you covered every question I thought I might ask and covered a good many I didn’t even know I needed to ask! You surpassed all my expectations of what might be got out of the sessions, and I think I will be referring back to the information on the DVD for a long time to come.

Lesley – Firstly thanks for the workshop, you obviously did a lot of hard work to produce it.  I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. I got a lot from it and learnt things I didn’t know. In fact I have created a new main character for my next book from those who are co-opted onto the enquiry (more later). T he DVD of information is an excellent resource.  Weekends like this are as much about talking to other people during the breaks and in the evening as about the workshop itself and we had plenty of time for that.

Maggie – You often don’t realise what you want to know until you know it and it provokes further questioning! I was open to consuming new knowledge that I could utilise along the way within my writing. I think I gained a new perspective through the course.  At the time I felt that being informed about the different uniforms was not necessary – in hindsight I feel that it was totally in context with the rest of the content once I had done the two days. It helps that you can take notes of thought provoking ideas rather than have to scribble everything that is said down and miss the overall aim/ambience.  During the course it was thought provoking and I am sure many of us have come away with some ideas for plot lines.  All in all I would definitely recommend this course to anyone considering it. Meeting the variety of people that were there was also interesting, some of us will definitely stay in touch and thus we are able to widen our network of contacts/writers/new friends.  10/10!

Paul – I enjoyed the weekend immensely and it was tremendous value for money. The extensive CD alone was worth the workshop fee and it contains everything the crime writer could wish for.  I think you provided a very good ‘walk through’ of what actual happens at the scene of a major crime and the different roles etc.  In conclusion it was an excellent experience

Sheila – I got loads from the course.  Lots of little gems will stay in my mind for further use.  I love anecdotes from people’s working lives, details that you will never get from a manual such as the spitting prisoner in a cage in a van.  The role play on tracing a wanted bod taught me how to think investigation.

Tom – I found the weekend most useful and the content and materials we subsequently received will prove valuable reference sources for crime writing. I got all the factual material I needed – and more. In fact I would suggest you were over-generous in how much info you released.

Wanda – I just want to say how much I enjoyed the weekend, and I certainly learnt a great deal. I am also delighted with the CD. You have been very generous with your knowledge, time and information and I am sure that I will now have a much better idea on how to proceed with my crime novel.

Anyone interested in signing up for the second workshop, drop me a line at the.writer@hotmail.co.uk

For those of you not sure of what you missed, take a look at the original post for the Crime Fiction – Making it Real workshop.