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Cop Week, Part 2: Inspiration For Your Own Cop Story

Your Own Cop Story are back for part 2, this time with inspiration for your own cop story. I think these snippets of info and suggestions are fascinating and offer some real food for thought. If you are writing a cop story, make sure you check them out … they’re the real deal!

Don’t forget you can read read part 1, HERE or by clicking any of pics in the article.

6) Kim Booth (@K_B_Author)

“Fraud can be a great source material for your cop story”

I think the tip I would give is that anything is possible in an investigation of an offence of fraud. Fraudsters are usually very confident individuals and very convincing liars. The bigger the lie or deception the more easily it can be sold to the victim. They are ruthless individuals who are always on the lookout for their next victim.

Fraud enquiry work can be laborious and at times boring. It can involve masses of amounts of paperwork to be read and assessed. Enquiries can often involve large amounts of foreign travel to obtain evidence. Don’t overlook the fact that this line of enquiry can provide authors with legitimate reason for the police character to travel abroad and work with overseas law enforcement.

Fraud can be a ‘lead in’ for writers

Fraud is an ever-increasing offence that is vastly under resourced. It can be a ‘lead-in’ for authors to making further enquiries and links into organised crime. There are so many different types of fraud that can be the source of a story that can take the reader to different places. Some frauds can involve hundreds or thousands of pounds, other can involve literally millions. Fraud is a very fertile area for Authors yet to be filled. The misconception is that fraud is a victimless crime but it is not. What does appear to be the case is that more offences than ever are committed by OCG’s (Organised Crime Groups) within the UK and from abroad.

Fraud can be a bit of a complicated area to write about but it is worth looking into and has great potential for an author.

7) Stephen Bentley (@StephenBentley8)

“Historical Crime Writing Must Be Researched”

My tip is if a writer wishes to write a bent cop story, that writer should research the ‘The Rhino Whip Affair’. A culture of corruption that reached to the very top of what was then Sheffield City Police was exposed as early as 1963. It emerged that detectives routinely beat suspects with stolen weapons, tampered with evidence and had their lies covered by their seniors.

8) Andy Buchan (@autism_by)

“Custody suites – the reality.”

Custody suites are usually noisy, busy places with people moving constantly. However, when introducing a custody unit to a storyline, it’s easier to focus on one sergeant and officer at a time. Booking a detainee in or out of the suite or interview can be a great flashpoint for dialogue between them.

Sergeants run custody, no one else. Inspectors are required for law inputs only and the length of time people are detained. Superintendents are rarely seen. Detectives spend as little time in there as possible. Arrested people are referred to as a detainee, detained person (DP) or person in custody (PIC) not prisoners.

People are usually detained for a matter of hours not days. After 24hrs an officer must have a lawful reason to continue holding them for 12hrs further with a superintendent’s authority for up to 36hrs. After this they must be taken to a Magistrates court for authorisation to be held longer but never more than 96hrs in total.

Women can be custody sergeants, detention officers or health care professionals. Do not stick to a man doing all of the roles. I cannot remember the last time I saw a police drama where a woman was involved in the custody process.

Autism and neurodiversity in the police.

Lots of police officers are neurodivergent. They will be autistic, dyspraxic or ADHD and function perfectly well without anyone knowing. They will bring specific skills that other officers may not have and bring a fresh perspective to a crime scene.

Stay away from stereotypes of lone males with computer fascinations or antisocial behaviours. If using one as a suspect, make them more interesting or multifaceted and remember girls can be autistic too. Neurodivergent people have feelings just like anyone else and exploring this can result in a deeper character.

9) Miles Manning (@Milesmannin)

“Family Liaison Officers are an integral part of the investigation into a death” 

The role of Family Liaison Officer (FLO) is still relatively unknown to the majority of the public, despite being a key function within Policing for the past 20 years. In 1998, Lord Macpherson review of the Stephen Lawrence investigation was critical of the level of “family liaison” between the investigation team and the Lawrence family. Clearly this was just one criticism of many originating from Lord Macpherson’s report. However it has led to the creation of a role that has evolved to be pivotal to Murder/Manslaughter cases, Counter terrorism operations, mass casualty disasters abroad and perhaps most frequently, road traffic deaths.

The FLO is the link between Senior Investigating Officer and the family of the victim. It is an immersive role undertaken by a trained and experienced Detective Constable or Detective Sergeant. I say immersive, as the FLO will spend a considerable amount of time with the family supporting them through the processes that a death of this nature involves.

From delivering the news of the death through to the court appearances for the accused, the FLO is usually standing next to the family. They work hard to make sure the family are kept up to date with the progress of the enquiry, that they are aware of any significant issues that may affect the outcome of the case and most importantly, are dealt with compassionately and with complete honesty.

Transparency is crucial

Transparency, unless operationally necessary (say for instance where the suspect may be within the family itself) is crucial. FLO’s will never be asked to lie, even if by telling the truth they will cause the family distress. A classic example of this is when the family ask if their loved one died quickly. The court will hear the exact details of the incident leading up to the death. If, to spare the family a great deal of pain, the FLO tells the family that he/she died quickly …. then in court it is shown that they died in agony, it would seriously undermine the trust between the two parties and lead to significant friction.

Assisting families in grief is a difficult task as many family members will react differently. Their expectations will be different and their demands on the Police will also be different. Grief in these circumstances can either bring a family closer together or rip them apart.

I led the team of FLO’s deployed in Sousse, Tunisia immediately after the attack on the Hotel Imperial Mahaba that left 38 tourists dead. My small team consisted of just three officers working exceptionally long hours in a chaotic environment. We supported family members who had arrived in Tunisia to try to find out what had happened to their lost ones.

They went to great lengths to explain to everyone the complicated identification processes that had to be undertaken before the body could be repatriated to the UK. This meant we managed the traumatic identification process some had to endure. We worked hard to keep tensions between family groups to a minimum. We also made use of the excellent services The Red Cross provide through their association with The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Rapid Deployment Team. In addition, we coordinated between the holiday companies and the FCO incoming family members. We helped provide accommodation, travel and a safe, quiet area for them to grieve and take in what had happened to their loved one. In the end, we managed to get all the deceased back to the UK within a week of the attack, sadly leaving behind the 8 other victims who had been killed from other nations.

The FLO is unique to British Policing and no other countries have that service. It has led to a more victim-focused judicial system. It has supplemented and changed the courts’ approach to the victim and their family. It’s impossible in just a few short paragraphs to show how impactive they have been on the lives of those most in need. It certainly is something to be proud of and fascinating when you examine it in much closer detail.

Thanks to the experts

So, there you have it … If you are writing your own cop story, then you should definitely listen to the experts! Thank the ones here and in part 2 by following them all on Twitter.

Good luck!

BIO: ConsultingCops offers writers the ability to match their work to the relevant expert and supply them with the information they need to authenticate their project. Nine experts from the team offer an insight into their specific areas. Get the right advice from someone with both knowledge and experience in these specialist roles.

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