Posts Tagged ‘Home Office’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BPCD 2016 Cover on Amazon

It costs a lot of money to train a recruit to become a police officer, so where savings can be made they are.  Whilst it isn’t essential that a person holds a full driving licence to be eligible to join the police, it is, however, an advantage to hold one, as it may be one of the criteria used to sift out applicants when there has been a large response to a recruitment campaign.

A student police officer who doesn’t hold a driving licence is not an effective unit.  They can only be deployed on foot patrols or office/admin duties unless they accompany an officer who can drive or are chauffeured about.

Their opportunities to experience a wide range of incidents are also limited by being a non-driver.  Therefore, they may be less competent than their driving peers.

Those recruits that do hold a full driving licence may (subject to a force’s policies) be able to drive a police vehicle more or less, from day one of their service.  Upon either completing a course or passing a test, they may become a “Response” officer, meaning that they can drive at speed with blue lights flashing and siren sounding.  Without being an approved response driver, they will not be permitted to drive to an emergency incident at speed.

Depending on the size of a police force and their policies, there may be further driving courses for an officer to attend and pass.  These may include van, surveillance, traffic and motorway driving as well as motorcycle riding courses.  Each one requires the officer to either pass a test or successfully complete a course for that type of vehicle or role.

Some forces have their own driving schools, staffed by police officers, civilian staff or a mixture of both.  Smaller forces may send their officers to another force driving school/training unit.

Only a few forces in the country have the capability to deliver “T-PAC” training, which is Tactical Pursuit And Containment driving that teaches officers how to safely bring a pursuit to a successful conclusion by eventually boxing a vehicle in so that it cannot continue to be driven.

As things currently stand, a police officer can be prosecuted for the manner of their driving, even when trying to uphold the law.

The Home Office under Sajid Javid, plans to change the law so that highly trained police drivers are allowed to pursue suspects,  whether in or on a vehicle, without fear of being prosecuted for driving contrary to the standard expected of everyday drivers.

What police officers do you have in your stories?  Are they required to be trained drivers and if so, at what level?  Does their ability or lack of it to drive at certain level create problems or conflict in your story?

Is your SIO off duty and too drunk to drive so needs picking up and taking to a crime scene but the only officer available to assist happens to be a non-driver?  How will your SIO react?

For more insight into police driving standards, methods and experiences, the following TV documentaries are worth watching-

Motorway Cops (BBC1)

Police Interceptors (Channel 5)

Sky Cops (BBC1)

Traffic Cops (BBC1)

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

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

BPCD 2016 Cover on Amazon


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

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 policing family already includes police officers, police support staff, Police Community Support Officers, Special Constables and volunteers.  It appears that family is soon to grow a little larger once West Midland and Surrey Police have completed their procurement process to find someone to outsource services to by 2013.

Brought to the public attention by the Guardian on 4th March 2012 is the news that the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) approves of this move to bring in outsiders to conduct criminal investigations, patrol neighbourhood and detain suspects.  They also suggest that all other forces in the country will follow to some degree in the coming years of tight budgets.

They report Greater Manchester Chief Constable (CC) Peter Fahy, who is also the ACPO Lead on Workforce Development, as saying that only “radical and fundamental” change would allow forces to cope with the “enormous challenge of the financial cuts” and maintain the protection of the public.  There were elements in a criminal investigation that did not need to be done by a police officer. (There is no reason why) others could not help protect the public and bring offenders to justice.”

They add the support of former Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Lord Blair, who says that “swaths of police tasks’ do not need to be carried out by fully trained officers. These include guarding prisoners, searching woodlands, preparing routine witness statements and providing intelligence analysis to murder inquiries.  “Many forces have employed their own non-police staff to undertake this sort of task but have been unable to do so in sufficient numbers because of the need to employ a fixed and ever increasing number of officers within a fixed budget.”

He also points out that the outsourcing “would allow the private sector to provide staff who can carry out routine and repetitive tasks at cheaper rates and, perhaps most intriguingly, to provide temporary access to skilled staff – such as murder inquiry teams – which can be hired for incidents that are rare in most forces but for which all forces must permanently retain a group of very expensive staff. This would then allow the chief constable, satisfied that he or she has commissioned these kind of services at a cheaper rate, to spend more of the budget on those parts of the service that require, because of their complexity, their impact on public safety or their centrality to the police mission, to be carried out by fully warranted officers,”

Scientologists peer out of the Church of Scien...

Image via Wikipedia

In an attempt to calm public concern, CC Fahy pointed out that private security staff were already patrolling public spaces and managing major public events, licensed by local authorities: “Private staff monitor CCTV covering public space, private companies transport prisoners to and from court and store detectives detain shoplifters.”

The intention is to ensure that highly trained and professional police officers were spending time on activities which require their skills, expertise and values. He added “While there are a number of tasks in a criminal investigation, such as gathering CCTV evidence or checking phone records, which do not necessarily need to be done by a police officer, the investigation itself would be overseen by a police officer in much the same way as a doctor oversees treatment of a patient although other healthcare professionals carry out particular tasks.”

However, not everyone is so agreeable to the proposals.

Bob Jones, Chair of the Finance Committee of the West Midlands Police Authority, was one of five members of the police authority who voted against the (privatisation) trial.

Lynne Owens, the Surrey Chief Constable ruled out the use of private firms to patrol neighbourhoods: “Any suggestion that a private sector company will patrol the streets of Surrey is simply nonsense. It would be no more acceptable to the public than it would be to me.”

The Police Federation warned that it was “an extremely dangerous road to take”.

But on the other hand, a Home Office spokesman said: “We are determined to do anything that will help the police to become more efficient and better able to fight crime. We have been very open in our support for the police in taking these decisions.”  So it will probably happen regardless of any fears people may have.

The question is, how will this affect your novel.  It could in theory get some private individual, with no current police training or authority to get deeply involved in some complex and/or nasty crime and investigation.  Could that someone be another Miss Marples?

If the doctor analogy quoted by CC Fahy were to follow along the same lines though, would nurses be involved in the more complex issues that supposedly remain the responsibility of the GP and save a village or small town from some life threatening virus?

Just as the Crime Writing Association’s “Murder Squad”

tour the country providing advice to aspiring writers of crime fiction, could there be a private Murder Squad brought in by the local police force to handle their first murder in 30 years (I’m not sure where that may be as every force has them more frequently than that)?

The choice is yours. You may well manage to get one of your novice/private detectives into real policing activities in the not so distant future.  How come they don’t feature in science fiction or do they?

Don’t forget to book your place on the Crime Fiction – Making it Real weekend workshop March 2012


Travellers at UK border
Do you want your villains to travel out or back into the UK?  If so, and they are already suspected of committing or are already wanted for committing crime, they may not make it out of the country let alone back.  The same would apply to persons from abroad entering the UK if there is a European Arrest Warrant in existence for them or they are wanted by another country whose legislation is recognised in the UK.  Read the below Border Agency press release for more information.
Ten thousand wanted criminals have been arrested at the border as a result of e-Borders, an advance passenger screening programme.

e-Borders is a system by which air carriers and operators of vessels submit passenger and crew details electronically prior to travel from and to the UK.

There are now an average of 52 arrests per week at ports and airports across the country for a range of crimes, immigration and customs offences as a result of the screening system which was introduced in 2005.

381 million passengers have been processed through the system since 2005, which has resulted in over 10,000 arrests for murder and rape, seizures of Class A drugs, and the refusal of entry to the UK for immigration offenders and overstayers.

Immigration Minister Damian Green said: ‘The government is doing more than ever before to protect the UK’s border. By checking passenger and crew information before, travel law enforcement agencies can apprehend those trying to evade justice.

‘From 2013 the new dedicated Border Policing Command, part of the National Crime Agency, will further strengthen security at the border, providing leadership and coordination based on a single national threat assessment and strategy.’

It works by 122 carriers on over 3,000 routes providing passenger data to e-Borders. The UK’s National Border Targeting Centre screens the passenger and crew data and generates alerts as a result of intelligence and targeting.

The suspects wanted by the UK Border Agency, police, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and HM Revenue & Customs can then be apprehended before entering or departing the country.

Courtesy of the Home Office 31 Oct 2011

Avon and Somerset police bath

Image by british fire rescue pics via Flickr

Each year the Home Office Tilley awards recognise innovative crime fighting projects where police, community groups and the public successfully work together to identify and tackle local crime problems.

From this years nominees, you may find the below of interest and maybe able to factor some of it in to one of your stories –

Operation Bluestone is Bristol’s specialist rape team (part of the Avon and Somerset Constabulary). It was formed in September 2009 in response to the poor detection rate for rape and the high rate of victim declines to prosecute rape in the city.

Operation Bluestone focussed on establishing a multi-agency team providing enhanced interdepartmental cooperation and introducing new working practices. It secured dedicated resources to provide a comprehensive service to victims and provided an improved capability in identifying unknown suspects and locating further evidence.

The team are now responsible for all victim-based contact, offering each victim tailored support and advice. During it’s first year of operation, the detection rate increased by 6 per cent and the victim declines to prosecute rate decreased by 13 per cent, when compared with the previous year (real term increases of 25 per cent  and 38 per cent respectively when compared with previous performance).

You can access a copy of the award submission at the link below –

David Kirkwood and Willie Gallacher being deta...

Image via Wikipedia

Look in the media any day of the week and you will find news about the police, crimes and the way that they have or have not been investigated.  Each one of these articles can be used as a seed to help you germinate ideas about what to write or how to incorporate it into your current writings.

The following are just a few ideas –

Related articles
  • How do you identify a mystery person? ( – could this be the starting point for your story, which would develop as more information is uncovered to reveal an explosive climax?
  • Our myopic faith in British police supremacy must end | Ian Birrell ( – having worked with law enforcement agencies in other countries including the US, the police in England and Wales leave the rest standing when it comes to the quality of investigation.  That doesn’t mean that we couldn’t and shouldn’t do better.  The following article leaves victims of crime open to manipulation by unscrupulous officers who wish to avoid doing their job or keeping crime figures down.
  • Victims of crime to decide if police are needed (
  • Police ‘screen out’ 1 in 3 crimes ( – as pointed out above, there are dangers in letting the police decide what should be recorded and what should not.  This very subject could be utilised in the formulation of a novel to show how the investigator could have missed vital clues because their colleagues chose not to record a crime and its associated information.