Posts Tagged ‘police interrogation’

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!)

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In Part 1, we looked at how a police interview with a suspect in a police station should commence.  If you missed Part 1, you can review it here.

This post looks at what MUST be said next by the interviewing officer.  If they fail to say these words or others that describe the same thing in simpler terms for someone unable to understand the phraseology, anything said that may be used as evidence against the suspect, may and probably would be excluded from any subsequent court case.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO SAY ANYTHING. BUT IT MAY HARM YOUR DEFENCE IF YOU DO NOT MENTION WHEN QUESTIONED SOMETHINGPolice interview YOU LATER RELY ON IN COURT. ANYTHING YOU DO SAY MAY BE GIVEN IN EVIDENCE.

This can be broken down as follows, to ensure the suspect understands:

• You do not have to answer my questions.

• However, should this matter go to court and you tell the court something which you could have reasonably told me during this interview, the court may be less likely to believe you and that could harm your defence.

• The tapes of this interview may be played in court, so the court will be able to hear what you have said.

Only after the introduction in Part 1 and this Caution are said to the suspect, can the interview start in earnest.  Failure to address either part may render any information, evidence or admission that subsequently comes to light in the interview, may be excluded from the prosecution case put before the court.  Therefore, if there is no corroborating evidence to the confession, the case may well be thrown out of court, if it ever gets there in the first place.

For more information you may find useful, follow the links in 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 can also check out many more facts about policing in 218 Facts a Writer Needs to Know About the Police.

218 Fact 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 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 –

BPCD 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 – the.writer@hotmail.co.uk

Police need to be more aware of the danger of false confessions, according to a study that suggests that up to one in five convicted criminals may have pleaded guilty at some point to an offence they have not committed.

Gisli Gudjonsson, professor of forensic psychology at the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, said false confessions were a significant phenomenon of which the criminal justice system should be more aware. “Among people who are repeatedly arrested and actively involved in crime, a high proportion – 10% or 20% – claim to have made a false confession,” he said. “If you study people in prison, something like 20% of them are saying they made a false confession in their life. They are much more common than previously thought.”

Mr Gudjonsson said his review of the available evidence relating to the psychology of false confessions suggests that high-profile miscarriages of justice involving murder or sexual offences represent the “tip of the iceberg”.

A spokesman for the Criminal Cases Review Commission, which was set up to investigate miscarriages of justice, said it received around 900 applications a year, around 35 of which were referred to the court of appeal. “But obviously one miscarriage of justice is one case too many,” he said.

The issue of false confessions and miscarriages of justice came to prominence recently with the case of Sean Hodgson, who in 1980, while in prison for theft, told a prison chaplain that he had murdered a barmaid, Teresa de Simone. He repeated the statement to a prison officer, but he was lying and in 2009, after 27 years in jail, he was released after DNA evidence proved his innocence.

Research in the US found that people had confessed to crimes they didn’t commit in more than a quarter of convictions overturned by DNA testing. Gudjonsson, who is also head of forensic psychology services for Lambeth Forensic Services, says research is required to ascertain how many of the hundreds of thousands of interviews conducted by police in the UK each year contain a false confession.

Voluntary false confessions, he said, often arise from a pathological need for attention – usually notoriety – resulting from low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy. But he said there was also a prosaic motivation for some false confessions: “taking on a case” in order to protect the real perpetrator. He said that around one in 10 14- to 16-year-olds in cases he studied claimed to have made a false confession to police, usually for minor offences. “It is quite common to take on a case for their mate, to protect their friend,” he said.

Another factor can be police eliciting a confession – usually through a combination of interrogation techniques and the vulnerability of the suspect. “They might have a fear of detention and think that if they confess they will get out more quickly and hope that their lawyer will sort it all out,” said Mr Gudjonsson.

Police coercion and manipulative interrogation tactics can also play a role, although the interviewing techniques of UK police are much less likely to produce a false confession than those used in the US, where police take a more guilt-presumptive, confrontational approach.

A third factor leading to the prevalence of false confessions is health issues. “For example, a drug addict will go to the station and want to confess to get out as quickly as possible,” said Gudjonsson.

He also cited research showing the tendency of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and a disruptive childhood to predispose suspects to make false confessions.

However, Mr Gudjonsson added: “It is a myth that only people with mental illness or learning disabilities make false confessions to serious crimes. Interrogators do on occasions elicit false confessions to serious crimes from normal individuals. Greater awareness and improved police interview training are important in reducing the risk of police-induced false confession.” – Courtesy of the Guardian Unlimited 9/10/11.

Could you have a man walk into a police station that claims to be the murder suspect they are looking for?  Why would he do this if he wasn’t actually responsible.  If you want to discuss ideas just get in touch.