I first created the enigmatic, flawed and rugged DI Andy Horton in TIDE
OF DEATH I approached Hampshire Police (the county in which my novels
are set) and asked if I could visit the police station and talk to some
police officers in CID and in what was then called the Vice Squad.
Hampshire Police were brilliant. They let me visit them twice even
though I wasn't then published. That gave me some basic background which
I have since built on and now I know many police officers and those in
civilian jobs attached to the police service. I'm grateful to Hampshire
Police and forensic experts for their help and patience and for being so
generous in giving me their time.
So where do I get the police procedural information and how can writers obtain this kind of information?
Police and government websites
Books and reference sources
Events, courses and the Crime Readers AssociationI have also run events CSI Portsmouth, CSI Southampton, CSI Winchester, CSI Basingstoke where I have brought together crime authors, police and crime experts to debate crime fiction and crime fact. By doing this I have met many forensic experts who provide me with a wealth of information. Nothing is planned at present on this front but if a new event is organized it will be posted here on my website.
Crime and police advisers for writers Stuart Gibbon is one former detective who provides advice/talks and courses @gibconsultancy. Another is Graham Bartlett @gbpoliceadvisor There is also
@ConsultingCops All of these and information about their services and talks can be found on Twitter.
Consulting Cops for Writers
My crime novels cannot truly reflect real police procedure because if they did they would end up reading like a police manual and bore everyone to tears. The basics are then spiced up and tweaked by my imagination.
of the problems with writing contemporary crime novels though is that
the police service in the UK is continually being re-organized by the
government which means that no sooner do I mention a department than its
name changes or it merges with another. It is not possible to be a hundred percent correct on this but they were correct at the time of writing.
are advantages in writing an historical crime novel, as in my 1950 set
mysterie featuring Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Alun Ryga, who is
sent to the coast to investigate baffling coastal crimes in DEATH IN THE
COVE and DEATH IN THE HARBOUR. In an historical crime novel I don't
have to wrestle with the fact that the names of the police departments
change. In addition, the red tape that today surrounds serving police
officers today was then practically non existent. The challenge though
is to get the procedure for that period correct and to incorporate that
and the way of thinking and investigating into the novel to ensure it is
an entertaining and intriguing read. I hope I have done so.