Posts Tagged ‘Crime’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ever since the police service in the UK was formed in the 1800, officers have been required to take notes of what they have witnessed, people they have spoken to, incidents they have attended and anything that they may need to recall in the future.  This information has up until very recent times been captured in an officer’s Pocket Note Book or PNB.  There have in this century been attempts to do away with such recording methods but requests by courts to have such information submitted in criminal cases has confirmed the belief that the practice must continue.

Once upon a time, any old piece of paper would have done the job but this changed with the need for transparency and truthfulness. Officers were issued with an official pocket note book, complete with a serial number and page numbers.  The books were checked by supervisory officers to ensure that they were up to date, being completed accurately and according to the force policies.  The notes had to be made in black ink and were primarily used to record information that may one day be required in a court case.

The TV image of the detective standing in the corner of the room taking notes as their hero detective colleague asked the suspects and witnesses questions was far removed from reality.  It was accepted practice that so long as the notes were made up as soon as practical after the event, they were admissible in court.

Serial numbers were added to the PNBs to prevent unscrupulous officers from possessing two books simultaneously. The pages were numbered to prevent the removal or addition of pages containing significant information.

Things have been moving forward in recent years with the call to keep “bobbies” on the beat for longer, forces have been trying to find a way of facilitating this with technology.  Some forces around the country have issued operational officers with electronic devices to take on patrol with them so they can complete forms and submit them electronically without the need to go back to the station to file the reports.

West Yorkshire Police have now issued their police officer with Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphones to assist with keeping them on the streets and visible for longer.

According to West Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Andy Battle:

“The device includes an e-notebook which will enable us to record information and make intelligence submissions via secure mobile police apps.

“Officers will be able to enter electronic witness statements and complete missing person forms without having to put pen to paper back at base. Similarly, the device will allow users to view and update incidents whilst on the beat, increasing our visibility, responsiveness and presence on the streets,” he said.

So, will your police officers be using old-fashioned pocket note books or smartphones at their crime scenes?

For more details about this subject click Computing News Article

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

There are many shows on TV that purport to reflect a day in the life of a crime lab but follow the link below and read what it’s like in West Yorkshire, UK.  It will give you a better idea for your stories of just what they deal with, how often and how long it will take. remember to go through the Gallery to view some very good images.

Real-Life CSI

Don’t forget, there are links to forensic issues and much more in the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers by clicking on the picture below:BPCD Cover


There aren’t many opportunities for writers around like this, especially free of charge.

For as little as up to four-hours work per week over a six-week period, taken at your own pace, you could discover just what it is like to IDENTIFY the DEAD.

Starting 7th September 2015, anyone, anywhere in the world can sign up for University of Dundee logothis on-line course delivered by the University of Dundee via the Future Learn Project.

The Forensic Science and Human Identification course run by Helen Meadows will allow you to uncover a grave, examine the remains and reveal the identity of the victim.  You will be taken on a journey through the world of forensic anthropology, unveiling the tools that will allow you to discover the identity of the remains.

The University blurb reads:

In the shadow of Dundee’s Law Hill, a grim discovery demands the attention of forensic experts. Unidentified human remains have been found and the police need to identify the victim to move forward with their investigation.

After a meticulous recovery of the remains, it will be your job to:

  • document and attempt to explain any evidence of trauma;
  • identify the victim through biological profiling;
  • and undertake a facial reconstruction.

Experts from the University of Dundee’s award-winning Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHId) will guide you through the process of human identification.

They will introduce you to the fields of human identification; forensic anthropology and archaeology; craniofacial identification; and the study of the human body.

Evaluate evidence as the case unfolds

Week-by-week, the case will unfold, providing you with more information about the victim. You will be presented with theoretical material and hands-on learning opportunities, to evaluate the case information and use what you have learned, to piece together clues to the victim’s identity.

You will be able to discuss, with educators and others learners, your thoughts on the identity of the deceased, based on your evaluation of the evidence.

Get your own copy of the murder mystery

After you submit your evaluation of the victim’s identity, all will be revealed at the end of the final week. You can continue your journey into the life and death of our victim in your very own e-book copy of a specially written murder mystery by international best-selling crime novelist Val McDermid.

Bear in mind that although this course involves the investigation of the death of a fictional character, some of the content may be distressing to individuals, particularly younger learners. However, this material is representative of that encountered by forensic experts.

To join the course just follow this link: Identifying the dead.

Don’t forget, if you haven’t already got your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers by clicking on the picture below:BPCD Cover




1. No matter how soon your detective gets to the scene of the crime, they are not going to stand around and guard it. Even before they arrive, they’ll want to know that there is some uniform presence present to protect the scene, come hail or shine. If there isn’t, they’ll create such a stink and drop so many names until it’s done.

2. Most uniformed Police Officers and Police Community Support Officers tasked with guarding a crime scene will mentally urge the detectives on so that they will release and close down the scene as quickly as possible so that they can get out of the cold, dark and rain.

3. Many uniformed officers are unable to keep their hands in their pockets at a crime scene and seem compelled to touch or move something. It always comes to light and most hope they will never have to own up to it until their DNA, fingerprints or footprints are found where they shouldn’t be. Let your Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) rip into them.

4. Maybe as a consequence of the above observation, many SIOs do not trust uniformed officers and treat them as incompetent until proved otherwise. Is this a recipe for a full-blown out argument in front of the gawping media?

5. It’s not only detectives that want to or do investigate crime. Many uniformed officers are just as keen and competent enough to investigate but they don’t want to join CID and take on board their cultural expectations.  Many Police Officers are able to spend as much as they earn if not more and so can make themselves vulnerable to financial difficulty and consequently corruption.

If you want to find any of the over 200 essential procedures or policy documents check them out using 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

As you’ll have read in the earlier post, police officers are not allowed to join a trade union.  Police support staff are but not officers.

Whilst there is no trade union affiliated with the police, there are three bodies who look after their interests as well as having other significant roles.  They tend to refer to themselves as “staff associations.”   You may have read the previous post regarding the Police Federation.  If you missed it, just click HERE.

Police constables, sergeants, inspectors and chief inspectors can, if they wish, join the Police Federation, which would leave the ranks higher up, unrepresented but for the fact that the next of the “Big 3” is the Superintendents’ Association.

Whilst the Police Act of 1919 established the Police Federation, superintendents and chief superintendents were not allowed to join and didn’t have their own association until 1952

The Association’s vision is to support and represent its members’ welfare and interests, while being an influential voice in policing for the public good.

Its mission is:

  • To negotiate the best possible conditions of service for members.
  • To provide support and advice to members regarding health and welfare or those ‘at risk’ in relation to conduct issues.
  • To help lead and develop the police service to improve standards of policing.
  • To actively contribute to helping to shape future policing policy and practice at the national and strategic levels.

In your stories, the Superintendents’ Association could be sought out by a (superintendent or chief superintendent) Senior Investigating Officer who is in need of support due for example to their excessive workload or claims against them of bullying etc.

For more information about the Superintendents Association click HERE or you can view a copy of their blog HERE

If you want to make sure you don’t miss hearing about the last of the Big 3, don’t forget to follow this blog or if you can’t wait, you could always check them out in the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers by clicking on the picture below:BPCD Cover

Police officers are not allowed to join a trade union.  Police support staff are but not officers, which is one of the reasons often cited as why they deserve better pay and conditions – because of this restriction on their lifestyle.

Whilst there is no trade union affiliated with the police, there are three bodies who look after their interests as well as having other significant roles.  They tend to refer to themselves as “staff associations.”

Police constables, sergeants, inspectors and chief inspectors can, if they wish, join the Police Federation.

The Police Federation was established in 1919 after the Police Union, which was affiliated to the Labour Party and Trade Union Congress (TUC), called for police officers to strike to show their opposition to the forthcoming Police Act.  The strike call generally failed and all of those officers who took part in the strike were sacked.

The aims of the federation are to –

  • Represent and promote the interests and welfare of its members and to support colleagues to achieve the required professional standards.
  • Influence internal and external decision makers at local and national levels on matters affecting its members and the police service.
  • Maintain and improve the conditions of service and pay of its members.

In your stories, the Police Federation representative (who is a police officer of the same rank as the officer they are representing) could be present when the officer is being interviewed about a disciplinary matter.  At such a time, the representative can be referred to as “a friend” to the interviewed officer.  You could also have a Federation representative challenging a Senior Investigating Officer who is thought to be abusing their staffs’ conditions of work e.g. expecting them to work overtime for free or for time off in lieu, rather than for payment.

For more information about the Police Federation click HERE or you can view a copy of their monthly magazine HERE

If you want to make sure you don’t miss hearing about the remainder of the Big 3, don’t forget to follow this blog or if you can’t wait, you could always check them out in the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers by clicking on the picture below:BPCD Cover

Have you ever thought about one or more of your fictional police officers being attacked by a savage dog?


It could happen quite innocently following a report of a stray dog being seen in the street/park/shopping centre and when the officer tries to entice the dog, he/she is attacked because unbeknown to them, the dog is frightened by the colour of the officer’s uniform.  My dog barks at anyone standing still, wearing dark hooded clothing.

Alternatively, the incident could arise following the search of a house after the door is seen ajar by a neighbour worried about the well-being of the elderly occupant.  Has the dog eaten some or all of the deceased occupant or is it protecting its’ owner who lay on the floor injured or ill?

Or, even worse, the dog could be set upon the officer by a suspected criminal who is attempting to avoid arrest. Maybe during a search of premises used as a cannabis factory, the suspect decides it is better not to be caught in the building and uses the dog as a means of distracting the searching officers whilst they escape.

However, having got the officer attacked or bitten, how are they going to escape the dog’s jaws?

The dog could just desist and walk away happy or the officer could use his/her baton to beat it. CS or Pepper Spray wouldn’t work on the dog as they don’t think like humans.  Dry ice fired from a fire extinguisher may be enough to startle the dog, allowing the opportunity for escape.

It may be such an extreme case such as the one reported in the following link that the dog had to be tasered before stabbing or shooting it.

The choices are all yours to make.

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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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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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.


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.

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

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.

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

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 –

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