Posts Tagged ‘Law enforcement in the United Kingdom’

Once in a while, a TV drama comes along that grips the nation.  It may have been Happy Valley, Luther, Endeavour or The Bodyguard.  The latest riveting watch just so happens to be the 5th series of The Line of Duty.

Are you one of 8 million viewers recently transfixed?  How do you feel about it?  Did it grip you and drag you reluctantly along from one Sunday to the next Sunday?   How did you find the depiction of the police and their procedures?

The newspapers haven’t been slow in revealing what currently serving and retired police officers thought about the latest series.
The following had this to say to the Guardian:

I only ever watched one episode of Line of Duty and thought it so far-fetched I could not stand any more. My wife hated me constantly pointing out inconsistencies and banned me from watching any police dramas.
Peter Fahy, former Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police 

I have no clue who H is, but it can’t be Ted. He’s the sort of boss we’d all like to have – before he dropped himself in it. He’s supportive, wants to get the job done and is not afraid to get his hands dirty. But then there is this sort of dodgy business dealing that he’s been involved with. It’s a bit worrying, but I hope to see him emerge squeaky clean.
Chris Hobbs, former officer in the Met 

I find it ironic that you never see this many minorities in specialist departments apart from in TV programmes like Line of Duty. I think it’s cynical, a marketing tactic where minorities are brought in to sell the programme.
I was a gold commander and a firearms operator. There is a scene where firearm officers are waiting at the warehouse, after a tip that the main gangsters are planning to steal from it. The team suddenly get another call and just leave – but it’s so clearly a distraction call. That would never happen in real life. You would always leave at least one officer to stay.
Dal Babu, formerly a gold commander in the Met 

I was a detective superintendent in the Met’s anti-corruption unit, a role quite similar to Ted Hastings’. But I never came across any fridging – the practice of storing dead bodies in freezers – in my career.
I advise on the script for Line of Duty. My job is to help make the series appear authentic, in terms of the language used, the acronyms, the uniforms, what the cars look like and the kind of firearms officers have – things like that. Some officers say to me: “Why is it so negative?” I’d have a different spin on that. I’d say it shows that there is a dedicated force who are there to root corruption out.

It is a drama series not a documentary. But that’s the advantage of drama: if it was entirely accurate it would be far more plodding and less dramatic.
David Zinzan, script consultant, formerly a police commander 

Line of Duty is great TV that hooks you in emotionally and intellectually. I have worked in professional standards departments and anti-corruption. With that experience, sometimes watching you can feel a bit affronted. Firearms operations and surveillance operations, the use of informants and undercover officers are so professionally managed with such a high level of accountability and scrutiny. You can’t help but think of your colleagues, who work hard in those units with great courage, and you sort of feel they are sold short.

But then you have to laugh at yourself and remind yourself that it’s fiction and entertainment and it keeps so many of us, including police, hooked.
Helen King, formerly an Assistant Commissioner at the Met 

https://amp.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2019/may/03/it-keeps-us-hooked-police-have-their-say-on-line-of-duty

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail reports that Chief Superintendent Chris Todd who is the head of Professional Standards at West Midlands Police took to Twitter to answer questions from curious TV viewers.

The Chief Superintendent is responsible for teams who vet officers and staff, investigate complaints and misconduct and the counter-corruption unit, which is equivalent to AC-12 on the television series, much like Line of Duty’s Superintendent Hastings, played by Adrian Dunbar.

Rating the show five out of 10 for accuracy, the ‘real-life Hastings’ revealed that police procedures in the show, some of which have featured in every series, bear no resemblance to reality.

Lie one: Interviewing officers have to be one rank higher 

For instance, officers being investigated for corruption do not have the right to be interviewed by someone at least one rank above them, even though this is standard in the show.

A common refrain in AC-12 interviews depicted in the show is that the officer being investigated has the right to be questioned by another who is at least one rank senior.

And in series four of the show DCI Roz Huntley’s police representative makes a point of asking that questions come from Ted Hastings, who is ranked higher than her, and not Jamie Desford.

However, Chief Superintendent Todd, West Midlands Police said they use the best investigator for the job regardless of their rank or grade.

However, if the investigation leads to misconduct proceedings then the chair of the panel must be at least one rank above the accused officer.

Lie two: Officers have to wear dress clothes for interviews 
Officers suspected of being corrupt have been seen marching into their interviews with AC-12, wearing full dress uniform.
In Sunday’s episode, PC Maneet Bindra who tricked another officer into giving her his computer passwords in season four was interviewed, she arrived in full uniform.

‘They always get dressed up in dress uniform when being interviewed by AC-12. I strongly suspect people don’t do that,’ on Twitter user wrote.

‘Yes, that is way off the mark,’ Chief Supt Todd replied. ‘The only time people wear tunics these days is at formal ceremonies, awards etc.
The TV does like to put people in tunics, especially senior officers.’

In series four, Chief Inspector Hilton – who was killed off in the final episode – was also frequently seen in full uniform.

Lie three: Undercover officers make their own rules  
In one episode, viewers saw undercover officer John Corbett gunning down bent cop Les Hargreaves, firing a shot at Steve Arnott and then breaking into the home of Ted’s wife Roisin Hastings, wearing a balaclava.

Confused by the rules, one Twitter user asked: ‘Are undercover officers ever permitted to commit serious offences (such as kidnapping, manslaughter, murder etc.) in order to ‘maintain their cover’?

Chief Superintendent Todd: ‘No, what you see here is for dramatic effect. They are police officers first and bound by the same principles of conduct.’

He also explained undercover officers ‘have to abide by the code of ethics and definitely don’t commit criminal offences as we often see happening in Line of Duty.’

He added: ‘Undercover work is a very specialist, and we can’t describe too much for risk of compromising tactics and the people involved.
‘But undercover officers (UCOs) are police officers first & still bound by the rules. The extent of behaviour in Line of Duty is exaggerated for dramatic effect.’

Lie four: Superintendents interview corrupt cops   
Another point Chief Superintendent Chris Todd cleared up on Twitter on Sunday was around interviews depicted on the hit BBC show.
Almost every AC-12 interview seen throughout the five series of the show has been conducted by Superintendent Hastings.

However, in reality they would not be conducted by such a high-ranking officer.
Chief Supt Todd: ‘If the superintendent is conducting the interview, something has gone wrong with our staffing levels.’

Lie five: Anti-corruption teams are armed  
In the dramatic series four finale, Hastings has a gun and shoots one of the balaclava-clad men who is holding a security guard hostage.
Meanwhile, series 3 ends with Kate running through the streets after corrupt cop DI Matthew ‘Dot’ Cottan, brandishing a machine gun.
Chief Superintendent Todd made a couple of mentions to the use of firearms during his question and answer session.

He said his own professional standards team is ‘not armed’ and said that the depiction of use of arms definitely takes away from the realism of the show

‘They use the proper acronyms and the proper references to regulations,’ he said.

‘But then they throw something ridiculous in like the Superintendent randomly having access to a firearm.’

Lie six: Police forces regularly investigate other forces   
Another Line of Duty fan asked Chief Superintendent Todd if police forces often get involved investigating other units.
In series four another police force was brought in to continue investigating Roz Huntley’s case, Operation Trapdoor, while she was being looked at by AC-12.

Chief Superintendent Todd said this does happen ‘occasionally’ if ‘there is independence required beyond their own Professional standards Department.

‘This might be if public confidence would only be secured through such independence, but invariably the Independent Office for Police Conduct would direct that.’

Lie seven: CCTV is the most important evidence in all police investigations  
Also discussed in the Twitter thread was the prevalence of CCTV in police investigations.
One person said: ‘TV Police shows love to portray CCTV as something of a magic wand when it comes to solving crimes. How frequently do you find recordings are actually vital to prove an individual’s innocence?’

Chief Superintendent Todd replied: ‘One of the biggest breakthroughs we have had in recent times is Body Worn Video.
‘This has negated many a mistaken or even malicious complaint. But it has also supported misconduct against officers through either public complaint or colleagues reporting inappropriate behaviour.’

He later added that CCTV ‘can be varied depending on distance, angles, lighting, quality of camera and equipment.
‘Consequently, it isn’t always as helpful as might be expected, but still it can be the crucial piece of evidence at times too. I’d rather have it than not.’

AC-12 often rely on CCTV footage to catch a corrupt officer. In series four the team spent hours tracking down video of Roz Huntley’s husband driving near Tim Ifield’s flat.

In the latest episode of series five Officer Fleming and the team relied on CCTV to know what was happening at the raid on the Eastfield depot.

Lie eight: Police officers all have cars for their own personal use  
One Line of Duty fan replied to Chief Superintendent Todd saying he was amused that in police TV the ‘default for every marked car is to drive with blue lights’ on.

The top officer replied ‘And they all have vehicles for their own personal use 24/7’, before adding that he usually takes the bus.
Both DI Fleming and DS Arnott are often seen in unmarked cars, thought to be theirs to use whenever they like, during the show.

Lie nine: Anti-corruption police are always investigating major scandals 
Several people asked how realistic the case load of AC-12 was, and if police forces’ really deal with such a high amount of ‘bent coppers’.
Chief Superintendent Todd put minds at rest and revealed that corruption isn’t as widespread as is portrayed on the show.

He said: ’Corrupt officers are very few and far between Line of Duty is the “midsummer murders” equivalent of professional standards work!’
Answering a similar question, he said: ‘It’s [corruption] very rare I’m pleased to say.

‘We had 65 allegations of misconduct per 1000 employees last year and the vast majority were minor misdemeanours. Not the sort of things portrayed in LoD in all but a small partial hand filling- not even a handful.

He later added: ‘I don’t have access to all data right now, but looking back since Christmas, we’ve seen 7 not proven cases, 7 dismissals, 2 final written warnings, 2 written warnings, 2 custodial & 1 driving ban.’

Lie 10: Professional standards teams are secretive and feared
In Line Of Duty the AC-12 office appears to be secretive and separated from the rest of the station, with only a select few officers appearing on the screen.

One person asked Chief Superintendent Todd: ‘Is your department as feared in your force as AC-12 with colleagues clamming up the moment you start investigating suspected misconduct?’

He replied: ‘No, we’re a really friendly bunch. The counter corruption unit is necessarily covert.

‘But the rest of the department is literally an open door, open plan environment and is vert welcoming, not like you see on Line Of Duty.’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-6927407/Police-Officer-separates-fact-fiction-Line-Duty.html

What errors or anomalies did you spot or what did you see that you’re not sure about?  Drop me a line and we can discuss your thoughts

 

 

How many times have you come across fictional lead detectives or Senior Investigating Officers (SIOs) with no idea where they came from?  It’s almost as if they were born a lead detective or joined the police to automatically become one.

I’m sure that you already know that in the UK,  it isn’t possible and never has been for a person to join the police as a detective, let alone a Senior Investigating Officer.  You’ll no doubt also know that it’s not possible for any old cop to get to those dizzy heights without the right amount and type of experience or training.

Now, if you are reading the nth book in a series, it may be that the SIO’s development and career progression are discussed in earlier book in the series but in all likelihood, there will be no mention of how they got to the pinnacle of their career or what they had to do to become the leader of a complex murder investigation.

The reason that you will come across such instances and maybe even be guilty of doing something similar yourself, is probably because not many authors happen to have a close relationship with a police officer who has years of experience of policing in the UK that they can call upon to answer accurately and reliably, their troubling questions about the police, their policies and procedures.  Maybe no-one has taken the time to explain to you or the writer of the story you are recalling, just what it takes to become an SIO and lead a murder investigation in the UK.

But never fear.  Help is at hand for those of you wanting to learn about what it takes for a police officer to become an SIO and thereby make your lead detective more credible and identify areas where conflict may stem or opportunities arise from.

A Writer’s Guide to Senior Police Investigators in the UK will take you through – A Writer's Guide to Senior Investigating Police Officers in the UK by [Robinson, Kevin N.]

  • What exactly a lead investigator and Senior Investigating Officer is
  • How they become one
  • What training they undertake
  • What 38 qualities and expectations they are expected to exhibit
  • You will find 27 specific ideas of how to take your stories forward and/or create conflict in them
  • There are also hyperlinks to 79 websites or documents that you may find useful in building up your understanding of what a Senior Investigating Officer needs to know and apply during a major investigation.

Not only will this book provide you with details of how a police officer can become a Senior Investigating Officer but it can help with plotting your novel and creating twists and conflict along the way.

It’s crammed full of expert knowledge and advice that you can use to captivate your readers with compelling dialogue and narrative.

Just a couple of the five-star reviews state:

I have never felt compelled to write a review before but in this case I felt it only right to do so. I am an ex-police officer in the middle of writing my first crime-related novel and I have to say how invaluable this book has been to me. I thought I was doing well with my descriptions of procedures and command structures but I cannot believe just how much the job has changed since I left.

If I hadn’t bought a copy of this (I also have the authors other titles) I would have made myself look like a rank amateur stuck somewhere in the 90’s. This book has saved me hours upon hours of research and helped me re-think certain parts of my book and for that alone, thank you Mr Robinson.

I only wish these books were available in paperback format. I’d have a copy of them as well. Call me old fashioned, but I like a book I can flick through and mark up where necessary and as much as Kindle comes close to a book experience it doesn’t really work quite as well with this kind of book in my opinion. That said, no other format allows for hyperlinking to other valuable resources so, swings and roundabouts.

All in all, a superb, densely packed no fluff resource that is worth far, far more than what it is being offered at.

Another great book from retired UK Police Inspector, Kevin N. Robinson! Packed full of useful info – really helpful for anyone with an interest in how the UK police force works, especially with regards to those investigating crime. A gem for writers & crime fiction authors. It’s the little details that make a story authentic and it’s great to have a source which collects all the necessary info, such as what an inspector would normally carry with him (would he have a forensic suit? gloves? what weapons? etc) – particularly for those less familiar with British police (who are quite different from the armed US law enforcement officers you see more commonly on TV!)

PPE not PPI is the acronym under discussion here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

218 Fact CoverBPCD Cover

 

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

Do you want to hear how crime scenes are processed?

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

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

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

Further details are available from the Nottingham Writers’ Studio

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

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

Topics covered include but are not limited to:

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

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

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

Happy and informed reading.

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

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

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

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

Topics covered include but are not limited to:

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

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

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

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

Happy and informed reading.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As you can see:

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

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

The latest Coroner’s statistics can be found HERE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seven of the most common tasks they may undertake include:

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

Could you use an analyst in your crime fiction?

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

BPCD Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BPCD Cover

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

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

Intelligence Manager

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

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

Analyst

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

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

Researcher

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

Field Intelligence Officers

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

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

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

BPCD Cover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conduct which

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BPCD 2016 Cover on Amazon

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Police officers are not super beings.  They are much the same as the people they serve and protect. It would not be unusual for a police officer to be affected by some of the things they deal with, yet rarely are fictional detectives bothered by the things they come across.

However, in real life, senior investigators have a duty to consider their own welfare and that of their staff.  It is widely accepted that people react differently to traumatic situations or incidents on emotional and behavioural levels, which is why it is important to watch out for signs that someone may be suffering adverse effects when dealing with unpleasant incidents.

Some of the indicators may include any, all or several of the following:

  1. having trembling or shaking hands or limbs
  2. experiencing an increased breathing rate or a racing heartbeat
  3. having difficulty concentrating
  4. being tearful
  5. being anxious
  6. being agitated
  7. seeming over alert
  8. being over talkative or becoming mute
  9. having feelings of guilt, self-blame or anger at self and others
  10. feeling emotionally detached, emotionally blunt or numb.

It is important that if any of these signs are evident, welfare needs are identified as soon as possible and support is made available to reduce potential long-term damage being suffered by the individual.

That immediate support can include

  • responding to them as an individual, in a calm, sensitive manner
  • taking the person to a quiet, private location
  • acknowledging the person’s thoughts and feelings about the event and timescales, no matter how bizarre they may seem
  • allowing them to express their distress openly
  • allowing them to talk without attempting to pacify them or change the subject
  • normalising the person’s experience by reinforcing common-sense reactions
  • encouraging them to be with and speak to colleagues.

Other longer term practical options may include:

  • ensuring that individuals take a longer break before continuing their duties
  • temporarily moving them to another role and allowing them to speak to a colleague who has experienced a similar event
  • allowing them to take time off and/or seeking support from other sources and agencies
  • referring the individual to occupational health services.

Many of these problems can either be eliminated or minimized through conducting specific risk assessments to help police officers and staff to prepare for encountering disturbing images or situations.

Will any of your fictional characters suffer any of the above symptoms and will they get the support they need?

For more ideas of how to progress your police characters and their actions, examine your copy of the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers or click on the picture below to buy your copy:BPCD Cover

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

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