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  1. The extraordinary case of Bedfordshire Police detective Gareth Suffling will be re-lived in detail. Channel 4 Fly-on-the-wall series 24 Hours in Police Custody has captivated viewers since its first episode four years ago. The show, which shadows Bedfordshire Police detectives around the clock, has tackled some of policing’s thorniest issues - from far right extremism to one-punch murders. Tomorrow's season five opener is sure to hit home with officers who have encountered the sense of bewilderment and betrayal of learning a respected colleague has crossed the line. The news of now former detective Gareth Suffling’s imprisonment for blackmailing a prostitute’s customer in 2017 shocked residents and his fellow officers alike. And the Channel 4 film crew captured the astonishing investigation from the moment the victim reported finding a cling-film wrapped letter with photos of the prostitute he had used and a demand for £1,000 on his car. The first thing he wanted to know was: “Is my wife going to find out about this?” Series director Graeme Macaulay said from the onset the case clearly had a “different energy about it.” “All my instincts were telling me something odd was happening. Amber the series producer had a meeting with Jon [Boutcher, chief constable of Bedfordshire Police] and I remember we were speculating is it police corruption? “It was the fact that I guessed accurately that meant we could have an honest conversation about whether we could cover it.” A honey trap had been set up by the Serious and Organised Crime Unit in an attempt to catch the blackmailer on camera within hours of the victim coming into Luton Station. But no-one showed up. Gareth Suffling had been put on the surveillance team for his own crime and had been watching the log where an envelope of cash had been stashed, as directed by his own demand letter, for hours. After Graeme talked through the logistics of covering such a case, CC Boutcher even sent the investigation team home and brought the programme staff in so they could catch Gareth’s arrest on camera. Assistant Chief Constable Jackie Sebire said she thinks the episode shows the best of policing as well as the worst. “I think the programme allows an honest debate around transparency and police misconduct. “While watching it [Gareth’s investigation] again makes me really angry I think it really highlights the brilliance of the investigation. "They did an amazing investigation, the painstaking way they dealt with that as well as having to deal with the emotions I think shines through. CC Boutcher added: “I am a great advocate for police transparency. This programme demonstrates we deal with everything that comes in front of us in the best possible we can." One of the first conversations about plans for the show was that “it’s right there is transparency in the police service”, Graeme said. “What was different about working with a rig camera was that we would look at every element of people’s working lives. "It was an astonishing commitment by both the leadership team and the officers at Bedfordshire police who both unbelievably warmly embraced us.” But the Bedfordshire chief admitted the force was never able to riddle out the conundrum of why Gareth would give up a promising career and risk his marriage for the sake of £1,000. Even Graeme, who had worked with Gareth previously said he was completely taken aback the talented detective had sunk so low. “He was on another programme 18 months earlier arresting someone for blackmail, how does he become that person? And that I think to a certain extent we’ve not understood - that’s the human tragedy here,” CC Boutcher said. ACC Sebire said: “I think one of the extraordinary things in retrospect is he thought he was going to get away with it. “He was a really, really good detective and yet he left the letter in the bin and all sorts, no attempt to cover up his crime. So I do think given the amount was so small he never thought he’d get caught. “We never found anything, any rationale for him doing that. “I think it comes down to greed.” Watch the show tomorrow (Monday February 19) on Channel 4 at 9pm. View On Police Oracle

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