Posts Tagged ‘police interview’

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

 

 

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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

If you are going to have your fictional suspect interviewed in the police station, you will need to know what should be said at the start of the interview.

The Recorded Interview Aide Memoire produced by the College of Policing advises the following:

This interview is being taped recorded and may be given in evidence if your case is brought to trial.

We are in an interview room at (police station name).Police interview

The date is (date) and the time by my watch is (time).

I am (rank and name).

The other police officer(s) present is/are (rank and name).

Please state your full name and date of birth.

Also present is (solicitor, appropriate adult, interpreter).

Do you agree that there are no other persons present? (Yes or no).  (Where appropriate adult present) You are not here to act simply as an observer. Your role here is to advise (suspect), facilitate communication and ensure that the interview is conducted fairly.

(To the suspect) Before the start of this interview – I must remind you that you are entitled to free and independent legal advice either in person or by telephone at any stage (regardless of whether or not a solicitor is present). Do you wish to speak to a legal advisor now or have one present during the interview? (If no, ask for reasons.)

At the conclusion of the interview, I will give you a notice explaining what will happen to the tapes (or recording where digital rather than taped) and how you and/or your solicitor can get access to them.

Watch out for the next post that explains what should be said after this introduction or if you can’t wait, you could always seek out  the answer  using 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

Further tips can be garnered from 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

BREAKING NEWS

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

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

the.writer@hotmail.co.uk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ian – It was a great course thanks,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not all of the people that enter a police custody suite are suspected of breaking the law.  There are many people who enter, that are not directly employed by the police.  These can include defence solicitors, forensic medical examiners (or in old money – police doctors, but they are now provided by private contractors to the police).  As well as the doctors, there may be nurses that attend for more minor complaints made by detainees.  If the detainee is believed to be suffering from a mental illness, a social worker and a (Section 12 qualified) doctor will attend to assess the detainees’ fitness to be detained in police custody and/or to be interviewed by the police.  If they are determined to be unfit – are they in need of sectioning and/or detaining in a psychiatric hospital or ward?

Other people that may enter a custody suite include those working for one of the prisoner transportation contractors such as SERCO, G4S or Reliance etc., who move people from prisons to court and back, sometimes passing through police cells.

Another type of visitor may include an Independent Custody Visitor (ICV).  These are people currently recruited from the local community and trained by Police Authorities to be granted immediate, unannounced access to the custody suites with a mandate to speak with detainees, should they wish to be spoken to.  If they don’t, the ICV has no authority to force them to speak with them.  The ICVs are INDEPENDENT of the police.

Association of Police Authorities

The aim of the custody visits is to observe and report on the conditions in which people are being held, to check on their welfare and see that all the rules in respect of their rights and general care are being observed. So, it is important that people want to talk and feel they can discuss issues freely and openly with the visitors

Complaints or requests from the detainees are generally not major issues but tend to be about being provided with a drink or an additional blanket, or using the phone.

There are instances of detainees making complimentary remarks about the conditions in the custody centre, the staff and the way they are treated.

Where serious allegations are made, they will be brought to the attention of a senior officer on duty who then has to deal expeditiously with the complaint.

Could an ICV feature in one of your stories or in fact any of the other visitors to a custody suite?  Could they wreak revenge on or support a detainee?

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.