Posts Tagged ‘Police officer’

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

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

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

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

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

If you want to find any of the over 200 essential procedures or policy documents check them out using the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers by clicking on the picture below:BPCD Cover

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

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

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

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

The aims of the federation are to –

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The choices are all yours to make.

Don’t forget to get your copy of the best directory of its kind, in the world by clicking on the cover photo below –

BPCD Cover



Good Cop, Bad Cop
you’re probably used to seeing them conducting interviews or in the US, Image result for british police officerinterrogations. They tend to be colleagues with a working relationship, usually to get the suspect to confess. However, there is another scenario where you could feature a “good cop, bad cop” relationship.

Looking at the following articles it would be easy to believe that your bad cop could be the chief of police, whilst the good cop could be the one trying to bring the chief down and to justice.

How else would you consider using this clichéd relationship?

Bad Cop

Good Cop

Don’t forget to get your copy of the best directory of its kind, in the world by clicking on the cover photo below –

BPCD Cover


BPCD CoverThe most comprehensive directory of its kind, the British Police and Crime Directory for Writers and Researchers is the police adviser on your tablet/computer/phone.  It is an easy-to-use launch pad for learning more about the police, policing methods and crime investigation.

To view a sample of the book or to download it, click on the book’s cover to the left.

To learn more about its content, read on.

The five parts of the book look at:

  • How to make contact with a particular UK police force, agency or associated government department.
  • What information can be provided to the writer/researcher, how and by whom?
  • Where to locate (free of charge) some of the very same practice guides the police use to investigate serious and serial crime as well as over 200 other manuals and documents that examine and describe how the police should work in the following categories:
    • Recruitment and Training
    • Crime and Investigation
    • Custody and Detention Matters
    • Firearms and Public Order Policing
    • Forensics
    • Incidents and the Police National Computer and Database
    • Intelligence Matters
    • Interviewing
    • Legislation
    • Missing Persons and Children
    • Other Law Enforcement Agencies
    • Overseas Matters
    • Personal Protective Equipment
    • Publications about the Police
  • Which 100 websites every writer and researcher should know about?
  • Where to find 37 authentic video clips describing ways in which the police really work, including following a murder investigation from start to finish and finally
  • Which 58 books about the police, policing, crime and writing crime fiction may the writer and researcher find useful?

In a nutshell, you’ll be able to learn about how to become a police BPCD Coverofficer: what the application process consists of: what the role entails: what training courses officers can undertake: what technology is available to aid investigations: how an arrest is carried out along with what powers the police have: the procedures they should follow and how they should conduct their investigations and interviews.

You will find who within a police force or associated agency can help you: how you can legally obtain information from them: explanations of some of the terminology used:  You can also discover how public order and firearms incidents should be policed as well as how missing persons’ investigations should be conducted.

The book will prove indispensable to those wishing to bring authenticity and realism to their writing to create a convincing, believable story.

With the aid of this comprehensive directory, your readers will not be questioning your facts or research methods but will focus on the heart of the matter – “whodunnit”?

Want to see a sample or download your very own copy of this unique book, just click on the book cover to the right.


How are you going to use armed police officers in your story?  Read the below and see if any of it helps you get them in there at the right time for the right reason.

One of the most respected aspects of British policing was that in the main, it went about its’ daily business unarmed, unlike many of their international colleagues.  Go back to the 1980s and the sole means of protection police officers in the UK had, was a wooden truncheon.  Men had one of around 16 inches or 40 cm in length, which they slipped into a truncheon pocket stitched into their trouser leg.  Police women had a much smaller one to fit in their handbags.

Over the years, the truncheon became a baton, much stronger and harder to break.  The old truncheons often snapped on impact.  Handcuffs that most criminals knew how to get out of were replaced with rigid style handcuffs that could also be used offensively.  Body armour or stab vests followed and have become lighter, tighter fitting and more resistant to knife attack and some calibre of bullet.  CS or Pepper Spray came along and was issued to all operational officers.  The latest piece of equipment in use now is the Taser, carried by a small number of uniformed patrol and firearms officers.A Taser stun gun is demonstrated.

Since the terrorist attacks in Paris this year, there have been calls to arm all operational officers with a Taser so that they are better able to defend themselves and detain a violent suspect:

I’m not sure how many officers when confronted by a suspect armed with a pistol or rifle, would choose to stand and confront them with their trusty 50,000 volt side-arm.

On the other hand, there are people such as the former Home Secretary David Blunkett calling for the police to “step back” from using the Taser, especially in the light of reports that they were drawn over 400 time against children in 2013:

It is important to note the word “drawn” as opposed to “used against,” as it has been found that often the mere production of a Taser has caused violent offenders to become more compliant.  Additionally, the weapon can be “Arced” to show the sparks between the two electrodes i.e. it works: it can also be used in “Drive Stun” mode which is best imagined as how a stun gun would be used rather than the firing of barbs into/onto the body before pulsing the electric charge.

It’s also worth noting that the use of a Taser is seen as less lethal than a baton strike which can cause far more serious and lasting bodily injury than a Taser, which why some members of the public ask why resort to a Taser so early on or even at all?  Isn’t it a last resort?  The answer is very much – NO.

A comprehensive Q&A with the Association of Chief Police Officers can be found at:

However, along with the call to equip more officers with Taser, there has been an increase in the number of times that trained firearms officers have been deployed to non – life threatening incidents.  This isn’t because more officers are armed.  Greater Manchester Police only recently intended to reduce the number of armed officers they employed.  This decision has since been rescinded:

The Metropolitan Police by contrast have decided to increase their number of trained firearms officers to combat the threat of terror attacks in London:

But along with the austerity cuts in Police budgets, there has been a reduction in total officer numbers which has led to fewer staff doing more work, hence armed officers are now being deployed to incidents more frequently than being held back awaiting incidents specifically needing their specialist skills in attendance.  Examples provided by the Daily Mail, include Thames Valley Police deploying armed officers to 8700 routine calls last year:

How will you factor authorised firearms officers and Taser deployment and use into your stories?

Coming very soon – the most comprehensive policing directory for writers and researchers in the world.

I came across the below article by Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mail the other day and wondered what you may think about it.  Could its’ theme of this article feature in or shape any of your stories?

After more than 40 years as a journalist at home and abroad, often experiencing history at first hand, I am certain of only one thing – that most people in power are completely clueless about what they are doing.

They seldom, if ever, think. They know no history. They are fiercely resistant to any facts that might upset their opinions. They take no trouble to find out what is actually happening.

Here is an example. Ian Austin MP, a member of Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee, last week extruded the following opinion: ‘The police’s number one job is to catch criminals so they can be convicted.’ He was objecting to a scheme that gave priority to contact with the public.

I am pretty sure the same dim view is shared across Parliament, in every police HQ and in most media outlets in the country. Yet it is utterly, totally mistaken. Every arrest and prosecution is, in fact, a failure by the police. It’s necessary, but it’s also secondary.

Their job, the reason we hired them in 1829, was to prevent crime and disorder. That’s what the constable’s oath says, and they successfully did prevent huge amounts of crime and disorder for more than a century, by patrolling on foot.

And so it continued until the country went mad 50 years ago in the first heady years of the Age of Mistakes in which we continue to live – the era of instant mashed potato, Jimmy Savile, Watney’s Red Barrel, tower blocks, comprehensive schools, votes for teenagers, inner ring roads, the Common Market and Dr Beeching’s railway massacre.What use is a police officer after a crime has been committed, unless he can do first aid?

Most of those errors were made in public view, cheered on, as usual, by the political and commentating classes who invariably mistake novelty for progress. 

But the decision to abolish police foot patrols went unnoticed at the time. It was only afterwards that British people of a certain age wondered where the police – once visible everywhere – vanished to.

For the decision was taken in secret, by an unknown body called the Home Office Police Advisory Board, on December 7, 1966. It was adopted by new, unwieldy and unresponsive merged police forces that were created soon afterwards. 

Since then, the police do not prevent crime or disorder. They wait for it to happen, and then come rushing along to the scene of their failure, accompanied by loud electronic screams and wails and flashing lights.

What use is a police officer after a crime has been committed, unless he can do first aid? He cannot unstab, unshoot, unburgle, unmug or unrape the victim. 

Nothing he does can bring back what has been lost. The chances are that he cannot find or catch the culprit – and if he does, the miscreant will get off anyway, and skip, laughing, down the steps of the courthouse, as two did last week.

If you wait for people to commit crimes before you do anything, you will never, ever be able to build enough prisons to hold them.

It’s obvious if you think about it. It’s not obvious if you don’t. 

Do you agree that the police should be patrolling more on foot to deter crime or do you think the same function can be performed in other ways?

One thing to bear in mind is that there is no way to realistically measure just how much crime the police or their style of policing, reduces or prevents crime or disorder.

Maybe the important question is how does the public feel most reassured that they are safe?  Does the sight or more police officers reassure or worry you?

Coming soon – the most comprehensive policing directory for writers and researchers in the world.

You read the other week about the Bobby Tax in London, now we have the Welsh Police Apprentices but what are they?

Skills for Justice, in partnership with the College of Policing, Association of Chief Police Officers, Welsh and UK Government departments and four Welsh police forces developed a Level 3 Apprenticeship in Home Office Policing for newly recruited Police Constables.  The qualification is also known as  ‘The Bridge.’

Skills for Justice

   The initiative is embedded within the pre-existing Initial Police Learning   Development Programme (IPLDP) that all new officers undergo.  It includes supervised and independent patrol and the apprentices have warranted powers, in line with any other newly recruited PC.

The Bridge includes work-based mentoring and classroom work towards Essential Skills Wales (ESW) qualifications and study towards employee rights and responsibilities.  The apprentices complete ESW qualifications in communications at Level 3, Information and Communication Technology at Level 2 and application of numbers at Level 2.

Justine Burgess, Programme Lead at Skills for Justice, said: “These qualifications recognise that the apprentices have the skills needed to help them perform competently and effectively in their roles as police officers in today’s society.”

Eighty-four new police officers from across Wales have now completed their initial training under the apprenticeship programme. There are 16 officers from Dyfed-Powys Police, 44 officers from South Wales Police and a further 24 officers from Gwent Police.

There are currently 231 apprentices enrolled on the programme across Wales and they are due to complete their apprenticeships between 2014 and 2015.

The big question is how on earth will this affect us, policing and the public at large?  Well now you/we will know that in Wales at least, cops know how to write, spell and count.  Believe it or not, this has been a problem in the service over at least the last ten years especially since text speak became the norm for many youngsters.

Cases have even been lost because of these basic incompetencies.

Don’t forget your copy of Writers, Researchers and the Police at an introductory price to the first 50 purchasers. For more information follow the image belowWriters, Researchers and the Police 2014 Cover

There are often reports in the media of police officers not maintaining the standards expected of them by both the public and the Police’s own Code of Conduct.  In the main, these are lower ranking officers from Constable up to Inspector ranks.  Their failings can centre around theft, assault, drug use and supply, perjury and a variety of road traffic offences.

To deal with such individuals, each force had units that investigated such officers.  The units were called Discipline and Complaints or Complaints and Discipline Departments or other derivatives of those words.  These have been replaced by the standardised term of Professional Standards Departments (PSD).  They tend to investigate or supervise investigations into complaints against the police, generally made by members of the public.  They can also investigate officers whom they suspect may be involved in any form of corruption or organise crime (regardless of whether or not a complaint about that officer has been received).  Some forces have now built Anti-Corruption Units to deal solely with this aspect, leaving the more “minor” matters to PSD or even local senior or middle ranking officers to deal with.

However, over recent years there seem to have been more and more police officers above the rank of Chief Superintendant dismissed and/or prosecuted for being involved in corrupt activities such as fraud and perjury.

A glance at the news relating to Chief Constables, Assistant Chief Constables and Commanders of the Metropolitan Police Service, West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Cleveland Police will provide a few examples worthy of the crime fiction writer exploring.

What if your protagonist became aware of or embroiled with a senior chief officer of your chosen police force?  How could they have come across them?  Were they on the periphery of “unlinked” crime investigations such as organised drug or people trafficking or a paedophile ring?  Were they found to be “associating” with undesirable persons/suspects? What brought them to this place; did they feel owed, invincible, above the law or just downright cleverer than their staff?  Had they become indebted to the wrong type of person and that debt had been recalled?

How would their relationship develop?  Would the hero find themselves bullied and ostracised or the victim of some “random” attack?  Would the protagonist gain the support of colleagues or specialist investigators or will they have to seek help outside either the force or outside the police organisation all together?

What would the outcome be?  Who would survive to fight another day and who would profit or gain in the end? What would the role of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) be or would they somehow become implicit?

As a matter of historical fact, the IPCC reveal that between their inception in 2004 and 30/6/2010, they have received 55 complaints against senior chief officers.  Follow this link for more information.

See the following media reports for more ideas and information –

Don’t forget to get your copy of Writers, Researchers and the Police for an introductory price to the first 50 purchasers. For more information follow the image below

Writers, Researchers and the Police 2014 Cover

A comprehensive shake-up of the police promotions process means that the OSPRE II Assessment process will be scrapped and replaced with work-based assessments.

The new National Police Promotion Framework (NPPF) for promotions to sergeant and inspector is to be adopted after this years OSPRE II assessments have been run.  This follows the successful trials and evaluations conducted by 7 police forces – Avon & Somerset Constabulary, Bedfordshire Police, Hertfordshire Constabulary, Merseyside Police, the Metropolitan Police Service, Sussex Police and Thames Valley Police.

Under the NPPF, officers who have completed their probation and are signed off as competent will be put forward for the OSPRE I written law exam (which is being retained) followed by an in-force assessment of their performance. This replaces the current OSPRE II (one-day behavioural) assessment.

Those officers who pass OSPRE I and the initial assessment will be promoted on a temporary basis and undergo a 12-month programme to evaluate their performance. If successful, their promotion will be made permanent.College of Polcing Badge

The College of Policing has endorsed the change after a recommendation by the Police Promotion Examinations Board (PPEB).

The College of Policing’s Chief Executive Alex Marshall said: “The introduction of the NPPF is the first significant change to the promotion process for many years. It will provide newly-promoted sergeants and inspectors with the necessary operational and leadership skills, developed in their local environments, to deliver a high quality service to the public.”

Further information about the National Police Promotions Framework will be posted on its website and in a series of regional meetings.

Think about the above when creating the biography of your supervisory officers (pre- 2014 they will have taken both OSPRE parts and post 2013 only part 1).  Could the mentoring and assessment that takes the place of OSPRE II lead to conflict or challenges in your stories?  I BET IT COULD


Following the success of the Spring Crime Fiction – Making it Real weekend workshop, the Autumn workshop is now open for booking.

It will help writers of any genre bring their stories to life as they find out how real police investigations work and delegates will pick up hundreds of ideas for their next stories.

The workshop will run from 17th to 18th November 2012 (inclusive) at the Premier Inn, Glasshoughton, Castleford, West Yorkshire.


What the weekend is about!

The following are some (but not all) of the topics that time and delegate requirements permitting may be covered over the weekend –

  • The history and the future of the police.
  • How is a police force organised and structured?
  • What does policing look like across the U.K, internationally and who is involved?
  • What are the terms and conditions that an officer must work to and how are they trained?
  • What work do the police focus upon, how and why?
  • What are the main crime types and what do they mean?
  • What are some of the more serious offences investigated by the police and how?
  • How is information turned into intelligence and how is that used?
  • What types of profiling are there and how are they used?
  • What types of offenders are there and what makes them tick?
  • How is a crime scene analysed?
  • What forensic techniques are used and why?
  • What are the rules regarding arresting, detaining, interviewing and charging an offender?

Time will be allowed for delegates’ specific questions and to explore how their plots and characters may be developed or made more realistic.

The exact content of the course will be tailored to meet the needs of the delegates.

There will also be several handouts as well as post workshop support and guidance available to all attendees, which will include over 100 police advice and guidance documents.

Some of the feedback from the delegates on that Spring workshop includes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ian – It was a great course thanks,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Costs and Stuff

The cost of the weekend is £160.  Lunch and refreshments each day are included in the price.

Places are limited to ensure each delegate has plenty of individual support.  So to secure your place on the workshop by paying a £50 deposit a.s.a.p.

A number of double rooms are available at the hotel at a promotional rate of £58 for Friday and £63 for Saturday night.

The venue is located adjacent to one of the country’s top tourist attractions – Xscape and Junction 32 Factory Outlet just off the M62 motorway.

English: Xscape in Castleford, West Yorkshire

English: Xscape in Castleford, West Yorkshire (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Please feel free to pass information of this workshop to friends and colleagues and if you have any questions, please just get in touch –

As trade unions call their members onto the streets of London on May 10th and off-duty police officers also plan to voice their anger at government attacks on their pensions and conditions of service, will criminals make the Police pay?

A rally of the trade union UNISON in Oxford du...

A rally of the trade union UNISON in Oxford during a strike on March 28, 2006, with members carrying picket signs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As police support staff (union members) join the rallies and hold strike action, their warranted colleagues will be forced to back-fill the gaps left behind.  This will effectively reduce the number of operational officers.

Can you imagine a similar scenario happening in one of your stories and what could it lead to?

Will more crimes be committed?

Will more daring criminal ventures take place or will the remaining officers fall under attack themselves?

The sky’s the limit or is it just the extent of your imagination?

Just how many more ideas are there?  Check out The Verdicts Out


CRIME SCENE DO NOT CROSS / @CSI?cafe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some of you may be under the impression that it’s hard making crime fiction realistic especially if you don’t have a contact in the police that can help you out.  Alternatively you may lock yourself away every now and again with a few hours’ worth of cop reality shows.

You may even know some of the following five tips but here goes anyway.

1.            Your detective generally is never the first on the scene of a serious crime.  They’re usually called in after the uniformed officers have ascertained that it is a crime worthy of a detective’s time and energy; so get uniformed cops there first.  They can always antagonise or support your plain clothed sleuth.

2.            Whilst ever there is a Detective Inspector (DI) on duty, there is always a uniformed duty Inspector working at the same time.  What’s yours doing whilst the DI is sorting out the scene?  The chances are that they have been holding the fort and managing the scene and the Golden Hour until the DI can get there.  What some antagonism in your story?  Set the two Inspectors at each other’s throats.

3.            The pathologist should be appointed by the HM Coroner to perform the post-mortem on the deceased after they have been notified by the Coroner’s Officer that a dead body has been found.  So if you want your pathologist at the scene, early on, have a reason for them getting there so early, such as they are the only one in the county or they have been specially requested by the senior investigating officer (SIO).  Don’t forget though that the SIOs are taught not to call the pathologist in too early as they have a tendency to put the SIO under pressure to open the crime scene up to them.  Want a fly throwing in the ointment?  Let the pathologist barge into the scene and contaminate or destroy evidence in front of the SIOs very eyes.  Or turn it around and let the novice SIO suffer the wrath of the seasoned pathologist.

4.            Most detectives do not have a penchant for expensive, unusual whisky or eclectic music.  They tend to be like Joe average: like normal everyday alcohol and average genres of music.  They also do not tend to go around spouting off about their taste in music and calling everyone else a heathen.  Try giving them a liking for Eurovision songs and home-brewed ale.

5.            There is however a high divorce rate amongst detectives.  To conflict with this fact, there are a good number of detectives that have been married and divorced many time. How many marriages could your detective have been through? They always say that they’ll never do it again but they invariably do.  They can’t help it.


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  –

Often when the police use a Taser on someone, there is an outcry that they were heavy-handed, irresponsible and had no right resorting to such underhand tactics.

Many do not realise that the Taser is regarded as one of the least damaging of the personal safety equipment officers possess and that it is preferred that they use this method (where appropriate and proportionate) rather than resorting to either CS spray or even worse a baton, which can do lasting and permanent damage to the suspect.

It is therefore refreshing to see one of the many complaints against the police to be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) finding in favour of the police officers rather than the suspect.

The case involved two men who had threatened a taxi driver in South Wales.  The attending officers used a Taser against the suspects who were liable for arrest and posed a threat to the police.

The IPCC said that the officers acted properly and with a proportionate level of force despite one of the men complaining that a barb from the Taser had become embedded in his head and he had received stitches to both his forehead and his nose.

Witnesses to the incident confirmed that the two men had racially abused and physically threatened the taxi driver to which they both pleaded guilty to and that both men had offered aggression and resistance when officers attended at their property. to arrest

Independent Police Complaints Commission

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The IPCC stated that “the evidence obtained in the course of the IPCC investigation did not support the allegation of  assault by officers. The evidence indicates that he (the complainant) sustained his injuries as a result of a Taser-induced fall onto a hard surface and the officers gave appropriate medical assistance as soon as he was subdued.

“We have found that the officers acted properly and used reasonable force to arrest two men who violently resisted arrest.

“The public expect police officers to respond to dangerous situations such as this and offer protection to those being assaulted. The police officers who responded that night were faced with two violent men who posed a threat to their safety.”

Alternatively, if the officers had resorted to using batons in order to help restrain the suspects, they would have sustained far greater injuries that may not have been so justifiable.

Police right to Taser pair who resisted arrest – South Wales Evening Post

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

Having spent 30 years working alongside a great many police officers I think I can be confident in the proposition I’m about to give you.  I doubt very much that an empirical study has been conducted to prove my theory but I have seen it in action so many times, it must be true and I believe it is safe to say that it is more a male thing than a female one.

I’m not trying to be sexist or provocative but men just have a certain compulsion that women don’t seem to share.

I’m not talking about competitive sports or cheffing (being a chef). It’s definitely not about football or cars either.  In each of those cases, there are many women just as good or interested in them as there are men, so there’s no real imbalance there.

What I’m referring to is the ability to totally disregard the signs and warnings placed before a police man, particularly one relatively but not exclusively, young in service.

I guess it happens in other walks of life but they are out of my sphere of experience so I am not qualified to pass comment.

What I have experienced are those Constables (I was one as well) who see a red button.  Above or below it is a sign warning the observer “not to touch the button.”

It is either invisible or not applicable to those who manage to ignore the warnings (red for danger and words for those that can read) and go ahead anyway and press the button.

When the pooh hits the fan as a result, they act all innocent claiming “what?  It wasn’t me.  I didn’t do nothing,” which I know is a double negative but it’s not meant as such at the time it is uttered.

So what has that red button been for?  It has closed down the gas boilers or switched off all electric power including the emergency generator for a very large and very (under normal circumstances) busy building.

English: Red glass button

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It’s also been to prevent the deletion of important digital images or it has been to prevent the loss of evidence a seized computer belonging to a suspected paedophile.  It’s been the mobile phone belonging to a drug dealer that shouldn’t have been switched off (if it was on at the time) or on (if it had been switched off at the time). Either way, crucial data could have been or was lost.

It’s the sign in the Custody Suite warning all in it (staff, detainees and visitors) that the area is monitored by audio and video recording equipment and yet the officer is caught assaulting a prisoner in full view of the camera (I’m not suggesting here for one moment that they should have done it off camera).

So if you’re wondering how you can make your cop look inept in your next story, think no further than one of the above examples.  Not only are they realistic, they’re true and there are probably far worse examples that could spring to mind if I thought about it long enough:  some amusing, some not so.

Is it just a male disability that manifests itself in the police service or does it also happen elsewhere?

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

English: Bush Search and Rescue volunteers bei...

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Does your SIO (Senior Investigating Officer) decide where to conduct searches as part of their investigation and if so on what basis?  Are they trained in the latest search techniques?  Have they experience of conducting many searches successfully?

The chances are that if they make the decision alone, they’ll base it on gut feeling or for the lucky (or unlucky, depending upon your yardstick) few, on experience.  There’s no need however to take this burden on themselves.

Did you know that they have access to specialist advisors called PoLSAs or Police Search Special Advisers?  In fact, every police officer has access to one.  It’s not about rank; it’s about the job at hand.

PoLSAs are graduates of the Police National Search Centre (PNSC), which was set up after the Brighton Bombing in 1984.  It is based at the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) Bramshill, Hampshire and its role is to turn out experts at searching places and premises, trained by both the military and the police.

The PNSC delivers a range of specialist courses in search and security. After training, students are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge required to plan and conduct efficient and effective searches in order to:

  • Gain intelligence
  • Obtain evidence for prosecutions
  • Assist in countering terrorism
  • Tackle criminality, by depriving them of their resources and opportunities
  • Locate vulnerable missing people
  • Protect potential targets and key events

The PoLSA course is of 17 days duration and upon passing it, a police search adviser is capable of planning, conducting and controlling counter-terrorism, crime and missing person’s searches.   A PoLSA is widely recognised as the most appropriate person to give advice and guidance in relation to searches.

So the next time your SIO needs searches conducting, don’t leave them to sort it out themselves.  Let them co-opt a PoLSA onto the enquiry.  It should give them the best places to search to help find the victim, suspect or evidence.  It might also bring your story to a more rapid conclusion so you might want to use the PoLSA for a bit of conflict with the SIO instead.  The choice is yours.

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

Essex Police

I may be slightly colour blind and most men are but I have for a long time had difficulty accepting that whilst I was one of the boys in blue, my uniform was black trousers and black tunic.  At one time my shirt was blue to denote that I was not a senior officer but in the late 1980 all police officers in the UK began to wear white shirts not just senior officers or those serving with the Metropolitan Police.

Only now, in this latest decade has blue become more a part of the uniform colour but that all depends where about in the country one works and what one’s role is.

Most recently, officers with Essex Police took on a new look as a Force uniform review claimed it will save more than £18,000 over the next two years through changing from the traditional white cotton shirts to a new ‘wicking’ shirt, which has been introduced as part of a wider review of clothing in a move to cut costs.

A statement by Essex Police revealed that the Force spent an average of £51,500 per year on the replacement white shirts and ties between 2009 and 2011.  The new apparel will cost £84,000 to introduce and is expected to last until 2014 – the combination of fewer garments and lower prices are set to make savings of £18,200.

ACC Maurice Mason said the new shirts had been selected for comfort as well as cost. He added: “It is vital that officers have a uniform that is fit for purpose. The new shirts are durable, tough and comfortable. They will also offer better value for money.”

Officers across the country at Chief Inspector rank and above will continue to wear the white shirt and tie, as will all operational officers at ceremonial occasions or in some forces, carrying out those dastardly back office functions.

In Essex, and many other forces, police officers will wear black wicking shirts and it will be the Police and Community Support Officers that will wear blue ones.

So, once again, there’s not a lot of blue about.

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

Before you can use it, you need to know what it is.

Excited delirium is a condition which is thought to be caused by drugs, alcohol, a psychiatric illness or a combination of these, and may lead someone to struggle against restraint beyond the normal point of exhaustion. Features of excited delirium include agitation, excitability, paranoia, aggression, great strength, numbness to pain and elevated body temperature. It most often comes to light when a person is being arrested or dealt with in a custody suite.  In some cases, the subject can die.

In such cases, police officers can be suspended from duty, accused of or subject to the inference that they were somehow responsible or negligent in dealing with the deceased.

Typically, the police may receive a report of an individual showing signs of physical agitation resulting in their attendance. The individual fails to respond to the officer’s presence and communications or over reacts.  It is recommended that in such cases the subject should be treated as a medical emergency at this point and not a criminal suspect.

However, this is where things often start to go downhill as the lack of reaction or over reaction is then misinterpreted by officer as defiance and at this point the police frequently use force to take charge of the individual.  The officers will go hands on too early, which compounds the situation and raises the risk of sudden death.

English: Police issue X26 TASER

Instead of using force from the outset, the officer should contain the person without crowding them: obtain medical support: calm the person down with only one officer at a time communicating with the subject.  If there is no immediate risk to them or the public, the officer should stand back and resist antagonising the subject or embarking on a physical struggle with them.

It is suggested that the discharge of a Taser to help subdue the subject may only end up contributing to their death as it has been claimed by some that shock can cause cardiac arrest and/or can increase stimulation (adrenaline) and lactic acid levels which causes acidosis which stops the heart.

The more electronic discharges given to a person, the more risk there is.  Instead, if the subject must be tackled, overwhelming physical force should be applied my more than one officer.  However, if they do have to take physical control of the subject, the officer must never obstruct or interfere with their breathing.  Restraints such as handcuffs and Velcro bindings may have to be used.

A. David Berman (“Institute for the Prevention of Deaths in Custody” Vice President) gave (to Sudden Death, Excited Delirium & In-Custody Deaths Conference) examples of clues to a person who may have Excited Delirium and at risk of sudden death:

Psychological Behavioural Clues:

  • Demonstrates intense paranoia (e.g. fearful hiding)
  • Extreme agitation
  • Rapid emotional changes (e.g. laughing, crying, sadness, anger, panic etc.)
  • Disorientated about time and place, time and purpose
  • Disorientated about self (visions of grandeur)
  • Hallucinations (e.g. hears voices, talks to invisible people and/or inanimate objects
  • Delusional
  • Scattered ideas about things
  • Easily distracted (cannot follow commands)
  • Psychotic in appearance
  • Described as “just snapped” or “flipped out”
  • Makes people feel uncomfortable (including officers)

Communication Behavioural Clues

  • Screaming for no apparent reason
  • Pressured, loud, incoherent speech (mumbling)
  • Grunting, guttural sounds
  • Talks to invisible people
  • Irrational speech

Physical Behavioural Clues

  • Demonstrates violent behaviour
  • Demonstrates bizarre behaviour
  • Aggression towards inanimate objects (particularly glass, mirrors, shiny objects and materials)
  • Running into traffic e.g. at parked or oncoming cars
  • Running for no apparent reason, running wildly
  • Stripping naked (trying to get cool)
  • Superhuman strength
  • Resists violently whilst and after being restrained
  • Muscle rigidity
  • Diminished sense of pain
  • Self induced injuries (cuts self with sharp objects)
  • Says “I can’t breathe” (indicative of respiratory distress, escalating into respiratory arrest)

These clues only help identify the person as a high risk candidate for a sudden death and are not a diagnosis.

Could any of the above feature in one of your stories and if so how?

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

The current programme titles

The following link to a BBC News report brings to light the frightening case of two “trusted” police officers, selling guns to members of the public.  Thank god they were caught and think about this example when considering your plot and just how your suspect/victim could manage to get hold of a gun if they so wished.

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

The police in England and Wales have to work to a piece of legislation called the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984. This basically sets out how the police are to treat those suspected of committing crimes. There are also a set of codes of practice to guide the police on how to conduct themselves. Any breaches of the codes or the act can render any evidence inadmissible in court.  PACE Code E covers the conduct of interviews.

In order to provide a framework for officers to follow and help improve the quality of police interviews the PEACE Model was introduced first of all in 1993 and further promoted in 2001 with the publication of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) Investigative Interview Strategy.

PEACE stands for –

Planning and preparation

Engaging and explaining

obtaining an Account from the subject

Closing the interview and

Evaluating the interview to see what you have got.

Police interview

There is a 5 tiered approach to interview training. All police officers are taught to tier 1 level in their initial police training. Those going on to investigate criminal matter such as burglary and robbery would then be trained to tier 2 level. Tier 3 is for those involved in the interviews of both suspects and witnesses in major crimes such as rape and murder. Tier 4 is for those that supervise interviewers and tier 5 is for those that give tactical interviewing advice to investigators and interviewers of complex and serious crime.

Those staff not PEACE trained will not, in many police forces in England and Wales, be allowed to conduct interviews with suspects of crime.  This doesn’t mean that every interviewing officer follows the model as they should and any evidence they uncover will not necessarily be inadmissible as a result but their skills and methods may be attacked in court in an attempt to discredit the officer and their evidence.

What about your interviewing officer?  What training has he or she had and do they follow the model?  Would you know whether they had or not?

Don’t forget to buy 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