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Sex and Corruption: Why tomorrow's 24 Hours in Police Custody will shock viewers


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The extraordinary case of Bedfordshire Police detective Gareth Suffling will be re-lived in detail.

Channel 4

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.

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Amazing access behind the scenes. 

A gripping episode. Wonder what the rest of the series will be like. 

Can’t imagine how difficult it would be for his former colleagues, very shocking. 

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Very good episode. Credit to the investigation team for a thorough job and a job well done.

Just when you think you know people.....

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My concern and worry would be about privacy. The officer deserves a long sentence but he also has certain rights, or is the CC just wanting a little publicity.

Edited by Zulu 22
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My concern and worry would be about privacy. The officer deserves a long sentence but he also has certain rights, or is the CC just wanting a little publicity.

What rights have been abused?
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I was really looking forward to the episode, having read about it in advance.


I wonder what really motivated him to do it? I personally think that he had been blackmailed himself or was experiencing some kind of duress. Questions relating to this were the only ones that he leaked a bit of body language about in his no comment interview.


It was suggested that he had used the services of a sex worker himself. Perhaps that exposed him to something that drove his offending?


Risking everything for £1000 is just ridiculous. He also made some very basic errors that an experienced detective shouldn’t have made if they were thinking clearly. Why did he leave a torn up blackmail letter in his bin? Why did he leave photos in his bedroom?



If he was only going to target one person, why didn’t he just follow them home, as opposed to PNCing them? He must have made checks on several vehicles.


It’s also strange that they didn’t mention any evidence of him doing it to someone else. The amount of effort he went to wouldn’t be worth it for £1000 (not that it was worth it anyway), in terms of identifying a drop off point for the money and staking out the prostitute’s camper can.


I don’t believe that he just committed the one corrupt act and was stupid enough to get caught first time.


The whole thing was very bizarre.






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10 hours ago, Zulu 22 said:

My concern and worry would be about privacy. The officer deserves a long sentence but he also has certain rights, or is the CC just wanting a little publicity.

Zulu have you watched the show? From your post it sounds as if you are commenting without having watched it.

A lot of people on social media including many police officers have been commending Bedfordshire Police for this episode, many people are saying 3 years is way too short, seeing as he will only serve half.

Which specific parts of the show have you taken umbrage with?

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I have not watched the show only excerpts on news shows. I have a dislike of documentary,  fly on the wall types of show. I always wonder where in these shows a person's privacy comes into the equation. Many of these shows show up the Police in a good light but, many have the opposite effect.

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59 minutes ago, Reasonable Man said:

Hmm?! What can you say?

And the rest of my quote you chose to leave out giving a false impression.  I do not like the raft of fly on the wall documentary programs. It is my choice so I choose not to watch. When I have watched I have been disappointed with so many things, so I stopped watching. My choice and opinion just as you have one. We are both allowed to have an opinion, are we not.

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I think Zulu does have a valid point, especially when it comes to post prison release. As he has now been dismissed from the police (a safe assumption to make) he is the same as any other citizen who is serving a prison sentence. When he is released, he, like any other person has the right to be rehabilitated and move on. Should this hang over him for the rest of his life, cause him to never work again? No, he should be afforded the rights of everyone else. That’s assuming he does not re offend.

Having said all that I think Bedfordshire were right to expose him and broadcast the programme in the way that they did.

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