TV crime drama versus reality

Welcome to the first GIB Consultancy blog post on my new website. In future blogs I’ll be posting about books, crime prevention and police procedure for writers, amongst other subjects. I’ll also be sharing some of my experiences from a long and varied police career, served in London and the East Midlands.

You’ll hear about what it’s like to be in charge of a Murder investigation, how the police use technology to track down criminals, the specialist resources and roles available to the police, and much more. I’ll also keep you updated on the latest scams to help you and your loved ones to stay safe.

If you’re writing a crime fiction novel or a film which features the police or a crime then you don’t want it to be crammed full of procedural information as it’s likely to be very dull. You do, however, want the details you decide to use to be accurate and authentic. A lot of the UK TV crime dramas we tend to watch these days are designed to keep the viewer glued to their screens as the tension mounts. Those who produce these dramas have a limited time in which to portray the storyline and catch the bad guys. They also understandably want their lead characters to be heavily involved in the action. For these reasons, they tend to use a certain amount of artistic licence and don’t always accurately portray elements of police procedure and the way in which criminal investigations are conducted. So when you see DCI Vera Stanhope interviewing suspects or DCI Barnaby (Midsomer Murders) chasing and catching the suspects, this isn’t how it usually plays out in reality.

Whilst not wishing to spoil anyone’s fun, as they are certainly entertaining to watch, I may from time to time dispel some of the myths about what happens during a criminal investigation and provide some realism for the writer who wants to get their facts right. Before signing off this post here’s some brief examples of TV drama versus reality –

  • Suspect interviews for murder and other serious crimes are usually conducted by Detective Constables rather than a DI/DCI
  • The random uniformed officer standing inside or outside the interview room before or during a police interview won’t be there in reality
  • The majority of the tasks carried out during a murder investigation, including the arrest/interview of suspects and the process of identifying witnesses, will be allocated by the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) to other members of the investigation team as the SIO will be committed with key decision-making and other time-critical commitments

Until next time ……………………….. do let me know if you want me to cover any particular areas of crime or police procedure or if you have any questions. Thanks for reading.

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