1. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Anyone knowledgeable about UK police?

    Discussion in 'Research' started by jazzabel, Aug 13, 2012.

    Hi all :)

    I am writing a detective novel, set in the UK. I researched as much as I could (books, internet, tv etc) and I still need help with conceptualising my fictional police force.
    It needs to be based on the UK system, but I would like to make it simple and uncluttered, the way writers do in books.
    So, I need help from someone who knows enough about the police in the UK to help me figure out what's the best way to go about it.

    If anyone knows about it, or knows someone who does, I'd very much appreciate your help!
     
  2. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    It depends what kind of information you mean. When with my last paper I interviewed a police constable, and I also have a friend who is a police officer. Both gave me good insight into what a typical day in the police force is like; and with riot tactics and equipment, I know about them too, as my father works for the Prison Service and in cases of riots the Police and Prison Service work very closely. What information, exactly, are you looking for?

    Edit: I've moved this to Research, it seems better here.
     
  3. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cool, thanks Lemex! :)

    Ok, basically, I am having trouble figuring out the best way to go about writing a detective story set in the UK, present time. If I was to set it in America, I'd have a better idea of what job my protagonist would hold etc, courtesy of all the American crime writers and tv shows. But I know things are significantly different in the UK.

    Basically, my MC is a female detective, just passed her exams and just transferred back to London from Newcastle. I don't want her to be too senior (she's in her late 20s or early 30s) but I'd like to make it look as if she and her partner solve the case (with help of others like crime scene techs, medical examiner, other agencies within the system). I don't mind if someone takes the credit for what she's done, but I'd like her to be independent enough.

    She would either have a partner or also be in charge of two other detectives, I am unsure whether to make her a detective, detective sergeant or detective inspector, but she and other detectives within her force (somewhere in London, but I'll make it fictional) will have another guy in charge of the whole "station" (again, unsure if this is realistic for the UK).

    They will investigate a murder in their jurisdiction, but the victim will be just a visitor on business, otherwise from another town (one of the home counties). I am unsure whether my MC can be the one to travel to the victims place of residence and work to interview colleagues, family etc, or does that get handed over to the local police?

    Also the murder will have signature/ritualistic aspect to it, which normally alerts the police about the possibility of a serial offender. Then, more related murders will occur in the first victim's town (people he worked with and his friends) so the whole case will cross jurisdictions in a sense that it will clearly be a part of the same case, with the same perp.

    What I am wondering is how to set it all up so that she remains in charge of the case, or at least allowed to continue with her inquiries across two counties. I wanted to have her and her partner set up in a local B&B (not like "Hot Fuzz" :D) and investigate between London and said rural community.

    I am also wondering whether the same crime scene techs would investigate all crime scenes, or would local force be responsible for that and then the info to be shared/collated in some kind of "task force" that is organised for the case.

    One of her close friends will be working with SOCA and he can be the contact person for more expert help, but I'd like to keep it all on a grass roots level rather than have my MC work for an FBI-type agency.

    So, I think so far, she should probably be with the CID, but since I know very little about the way UK police is set up, I am not quite sure how to make intelligent choices.
    I've been told that new jobs and departments open up every 5 minutes so I could, technically, claim a wide artistic licence and make things up, but I'd like some concrete advice first.
     
  4. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Ok, first off, have you ever seen the old TV show Thin Blue Line? It's a lot like what I hear day-to-day police procedure is like today, and was highly researched when the V show first aired. To add a touch of realism, one of the most common calls to the police in metropolitan areas is that a bike has been stolen, can't remember the color, make, when, or even the name of where they live. Another common call is about kids hanging around areas. Basically, a lot of the calls the police get are really banal - with some people even phoning for non-police-related matters. My friend told me that once someone called to ask what the date was. There is also the book Wasting Police Time, which is a series of blogs written by an unnamed police officer, for other background info. However:

    It would be handed over to the local constabulary at first, with the suspect being told that a detective from London might come if there is more than one interview.

    As far as I'm aware only specialized cases require something like this. Say if there was a case the local office didn't have the equipment or experience to manage the case effectively on their own which happens quite a lot, and be it a B&B or a local officers house, this happens more than you might think because of the size and typical cases in different regions. My friend's station had last year a visiting inspector who was good with drug-trafficking cases, because in my area drugs is not really a very big problem.

    Most of the time, unless it's a very busy period, most crime scenes would see the same techs, in the local force, unless, for whatever reason, the local officers need more knowledgeable assistance. There is - so I hear - a large database in which all crimes and cases are logged, but I can't remember what it's called.

    Wasting Police Time and the novels of S.J. Bolton might be the best place to start, as with the show Thin Blue Line. Everything else, sorry, I don't know.
     

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