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Hi everyone :)

My name is Maya and I am writing a detective novel, set in the UK.

I have researched UK police procedures, general topics relating to law enforcement etc, but I still have questions.

My aim is to remain as accurate as possible to the way things really are, whilst keeping the environment "uncluttered" (trying too keep things focused on the story).

My book features a protagonist, a female detective, who is employed with a "serious crime unit" (I think this might be fitting with a CID post but I am not entirely sure).

In any case, she and her partner investigate in conjunction with local police departments, but they are able to track serious offenders and their crimes across jurisdictions.

In this book, they start by investigating a murder in London, at a medical conference, but it quickly takes them to one of the home counties, where more murders occur and they find themselves tracking an unusual killer with a personal motive.

I would like her (the detective) to be in charge of an investigation into a serial killer in the next book, so I suppose her role would need to be close to the role of the FBI, where they get invited to assist and also have certain crimes become their jurisdiction automatically.

What department and position would such a detective hold in the real world?

Also, do police officers still have the option to go for training in profiling to the FBI academy or do we have our own training now which is sufficient for this purpose?

Also, I am getting a bit lost with the ranking system. I would like her to be in charge of a couple of detectives (?sergeants), have her own partner (?detective? ?inspector? is there a difference between the two?) and they have a chief above them who is overall in charge but is in a more supervisory role (?superintendent?)

I would be very grateful for any and every feedback you may give me!

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The serious organised crime agency (or whatever they are called currently) might work as they cover the UK rather than force area. There is also major crime branch.

As for ranks.

Uniformed - police constable, sergeant, inspector, chief inspector, super intendant, chief superintendent then deputy chief constable, assistant chief constable then chief. (accept in met)

Non uniform

Detective, detective sgt, detective inspector, detective chief inspector and I dont know if there is anything above to be honest.

As for FBI style things, other than the serious organised crime people we don't really have one.

However with the poise tendency to create new departments and jobs every ten minutes you could easily make one up.

Do you know how you plan to publish and do you have any tips?

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As for profiling etc, there ate some officers who are very highly trained in specific areas. Like very advanced interviewing etc, they have been known to be brought in to perform specific tasks for other forces.

I'm not acquainted with their training but it's generally in house or courses at police colleges.

Again unless you know a great deal about the police it will be very hard to be 100% accurate, but then again only a police officer, and not that many, would know

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The Serious Crime Analysis Section or Operational Support Section might help:



Most of SOCA seems to be about organised crime and money laundering, but there is some research carried out into serial killers and sexual offenders too.

I'd maybe steer clear of profiling without a fair amount of research- it can be carried out by anyone from police officers (as mentioned above) to academics to psychologists to 'freelance' chancers. There is very little standardisation, but done properly it gets fairly in depth and can require a lot of stats and computer database modelling. (look up David Canter's work, if interested!)

The UK runs slightly differently to the US- as far as I know, serial killers would probably be investigated by major crime CID in each force, but with collaboration between teams if incidents happened in different forces?

(If this gets technical I'll move it to the CID area for more in depth responses. :smile: )

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Thank you so much for clarifying the ranks, as well as getting me on to SOCA, you are right, it sounds like the way to go. Also, it's a relief to know that departments and jobs can be fairly easily made up, that's very suitable to a fiction writer indeed :D

I am hoping to spruce up the manuscript to the best of my ability and then go the traditional publishing route, hopefully it'll work out :)


Thank you so much for those links, that's just the kind of information I need!

I have a reasonable background in psychiatry and even some first hand experience in forensic psychiatry (although not in the UK), so that side comes out in my writing no matter what I do (forever fascinated by motives :)) but I wanted to do exactly that - have the detective take special interest in the psychology of the crime without the actual "I am a professional profiler" angle. Thank you for the tip on David Canter, I'll look him up.

When you say "major crime CID in each force" does that mean that CID is not one agency, or rather that they have offices in different counties (like Cambridgeshire CID, Bucks CID etc) and one "mother unit"? Where does Scotland Yard come in?

I am sorry about the completely basic questions!

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Oops, sorry, one more question:

If a murder with elements suggesting signature/ritual type crime, occurs in London, but the victim turns out to be only a visitor on business and otherwise from another town, how would it work? Would the detectives from London travel to where he is a resident to interview work colleagues, family, friends etc? Would they do that or hand over the case to the local police?

If then at the victim's place of work (fairly rural location) more murders are seemingly committed by the same perpetrator, does the case belong to the original detectives/force who investigated the first murder (from London in this case) or are the murders investigated separately, based on location?

Would the crime scenes be processed by the same people or by local forces and then a task force organised to ensure sharing of the information? Who would be in charge of the overall investigation?

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Generally the area where the victim lives and the crime takes place is the force that takes ownership.

Each force and pretty much each station has it's own CID department. Like response officers from each station or child protection. Traffic are usually from central hubs.

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Cool, thank you Simon! Then I'll set it up as if the detectives from London take ownership, because the crimes are connected and they are the first ones to get involved. Also, now it makes a lot more sense (every station having a CID department).

Thanks a lot for your help!

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We have a department called HMET Homicide and Major Enquiry Team,

They would pick up on a case like this.It would have a SIO a senior investigating officer.For a serial killer it would be a Detective Chief Superintendent.However for the media releases a deputy or assistant chief constable would be given the media duties and you should only ever see the same leader making the same announcements to tv and press this is for continuity.Something my force has done for a while but reenforced by the mess N yorks made of a tv briefing.Where the Chief got nick named Wendolene after her appearance and the gaffes she made.

So then the enqs are farmed out as 'actions' to the DCs on teams supervised by DS's who in tune answer to DIs.This department has a big hideaway building in the big city of my force where they can crack on in peace.If the murders are happening on us they would do the investigating but if the suspect was another force area there would be close liaison and strategy meetings as to what to re surveillence etc etc etc but the force where the victims were dying would lead.

For example the Yorkshire ripper ( my father was a DCI on that case) West Yorkshire took the lead even though some of the later murders were in South Yorks and Manchester.

Your character sounds good and may make an excellent read but she is definitely fictional we just don't have the Maverick types murder investigations are usually quite short 90% are domestics where it is pretty obvious who has done it.

The rest take alot longer and its grind grind grind.there are various levels of interviewer.To interview murderers these days you have to be level 3 trained which means a quite lengthy course thats hard to pass.

Have a look at Death In Spiggs Wood by Linda Gruchy.She got alot of her information for that as you are now doing and accredited the forum involved indirectly and most of her procedural stuff in that book is spot on.Other reasonably close police procedurals are The Burkha Killer and Lend Me Your ears that I got free from Kindle.

One of the Mods on the police oracle has put in there sig that they wrote Spiggs Wood do some detective work and you may get a bit of help at least worth a try.

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Hey Tom Sawyer, thanks so much for that information! I think the most suitable rank for my protagonist might be a DC or a DS, although she is quite young (late twenties/early thirties) so maybe a DS sounds more age-appropriate.

You are right about the novels sensationalising any topic they write about, unfortunately most people are just not interested in the reality in their fiction. I always try though, to explore an everyday issue that most people can relate to, through fancy plot and character. It's a challenge writing a female detective, but I am determined :)

I was wondering also about the dress code; on television and in other books you see a mix of practical all the way to sometimes glamourous, personally I don't think I'd want to walk around town making enquiries in platform stilettos, but is feminine or even stylish dress something you see female detectives wear, or do most of them opt for comfortable and not so fancy clothing for work?

Yorkshire ripper is a very interesting case! (I just went on a tangent asking thousand and one questions about it but I was worried I bore you to death with them :) ) I read up on most serial killers, and one thing that stuck with me was how writers of fiction can seldom match the horror of the true crime stories.

Thank you so much for the book recommendations as well. It'll be very helpful. Internet and forums nowadays are such good resource to writers! I came across this forum when I was googling for topics I was researching and for a while I was worried about posting because I know how busy police officers are and didn't want to be a bother (same reason why I find street photography difficult) but I am really glad I asked, and you guys are definitely getting an acknowledgement in my book! :)

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With dress cose for none uniform officers it can vary.

I notice at training school there are pictures dotted around of what is expected i.e subtle guidance.For females usually either short hair or scraped back pony tail minimal makeup.Trouser suit usually dark and reasonably flat shoes.However things are definitly alot more liberal in reality.Just so long as its nothing outrageous.Hair colouring can be anything.Makeup no one ever seems to get pulled up especailly the older females.

Same as any job people dress up or down,the police has a massive culture of ridicule so someone dressing outlandishly would be a figure of scorn.

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Hi Tom, sorry about the late reply. My 7 year old router finally stopped working yesterday so I was internetless for a whole day (horror! :) )

That all make sense. I was trying to decide between my gut feeling (having her make the simple pantsuit look good) vs glamourising it up a little to make it more interesting, but I wasn't too comfortable with that option, so I'll just stick with practical style.

The culture of ridicule you mentioned, I noticed the general hilarity and challenges that arise from that in detective novels and movies, all the banter etc. It's something I am struggling to portray because I never experienced it much (I'm a bit of a girl, not incapable, but I grew up with sisters, so that kind of communication doesn't come very naturally to me).

My detective is transferring from Newcastle to London, having passed her detective exams, and she has a bit of a reputation, so would someone like that get teased for her "northernness" (accent, style etc) or simply just because she is a girl? I know that these days female officers are perfectly commonplace, so I am not sure whether they still need to prove they are tough enough to do a (previously thought of as) "a man's job".

Please tell me if I am annoying with all the questions! :)

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The cid exams culminate after a 10 week course before this they are known as trainee investigators TIs.

Being ribbed for simply be a female is long gone and anyone who did this would be on very thin ice indeed.Plenty of supervisors eager to tick the 'dealing with difficult issues' box on thier promotion application.

Also being ridiculed for being a Geordie wouldn't happen so much.I don't work in the Met but I work in a big force the majority are locals but people are from all over.

The ridicule comes in when people can't cut the mustard and fail to be an effective police officer.At my last station they had a little plastic trophy named after a hopeless officer who left and this gets left in the tray of someone who had made the biggest blunder of the week.

Someone who does my job in another part of the city which is tradionally a 20 year service job had 3 years in when she took the role with less than 30 arrests in that time.She tries to hide behind being very posh and older than you would expect for her service.She is treat with utter contempt and largely ignored as a fool,openly not knowing the age of consent for juveniles or how old a car has to be before it needs an MOT.I am sure your character is not like this person but they do exist and survive as the organisation is so big and the supervisors can't be bothered to do anything about it and give people false appraisals to get rid of them to other departments.

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I cant really comment on the banter in cid, but on the front line it is rife. You would have officers taking the mick because someone is a woman, but because they are tall. short, blond, form the north, the south, posh, educated, enjoys cider or looks a bit shabbey. The ripping is endless and one of the foundations of our moral, which at the moment has very little built on it.

Coming from not the met into the met would likely lead to some more banter

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@Tom Sawyer: thank you for those examples, I am getting a better idea of how to go about it; I am much more confident in writing about that type of interaction (I love the trophy idea, it can work on so many levels!)

The woman you described reminds me of a few people I know, lol.

@SimonT: that's really interesting, it sounds like the culture varies from place to place. That's great actually, I might oppose the two in the book, it'll be a culture shock for my girl :D

Thanks so much!

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