One of the things I still hadn’t done when I last worked on my debut novel ‘Slur’ was to check police procedure from 1986. Because I don’t like to halt the flow when I am writing I often highlight sections to be researched later so I knew I had a few areas of investigation that I had to revisit. As mentioned on this blog previously, I returned to my novel after several years, and I was amazed to find how things have changed from a research point of view. Oh the wonders of the Internet! It makes me wonder sometimes how we all coped before.
In order to look up some details on police procedure I approached a wonderful organisation called the Police History Society. Their website is at: http://www.policehistorysociety.co.uk/ and, as well as providing a wealth of information, the website has links to the websites of regional police forces.
My novel is set in 1986 so I required information that is specific to that era. I therefore sent an email to the contact email address on the website on the off chance that someone would be able to help me. To my amazement, not only did they take the trouble to reply, but one wonderful retired officer took time out from his visit to family in New Zealand to contact ex colleagues and search the web for the information I needed.
I am happy to say that I have now finished the research for my book. I have clarified the wording that the police would have used when they read somebody their rights on making an arrest back in 1986. It was important to me that I got it right because I want my book to be as accurate as possible. I’ve also clarified a few other points of law.
In terms of court procedure, I found the following link useful: http://www.cps.gov.uk/victims_witnesses/going_to_court/giving_evidence.html.
I thought I would share this information because I am sure that other UK authors writing in the crime genre will find it useful. Additionally, it would be interesting to hear from other authors how you approach research. Do you carry out all your research before you start writing, do it as you go along or leave it all till the end? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box below. Incidentally, does anyone remember the old style police hats that UK police used to wear (per the above images)? It’s making me all nostalgic.
7 thoughts on “How the Police Have Been Helping with My Inquiries”
Awww isn’t that retired gentleman so very kind and generous with his time? What a diamond gent! The wonders of the Internet, eh? Interesting article Diane. X
Thanks Alice. Yes, he was wonderful! In fact, I felt really guilty as I didn’t realise he was in New Zealand when I sent him an email and he really went out of his way to help me. The Police History Society will definitely get a mention in my acknowledgements. 🙂
I sent a diffident email to Police Scotland when I realized the book I was writing (Five Six Pick Up Sticks) needed to be more specific and the nicest woman phoned me back, we spent over an hour on the phone. She gasped with laughter a couple of times at my questions, but others she had to think about, which made me feel a little better. I was incredibly impressed by how thorough and helpful she was and how different modern policing is from the TV shows and books I had been ‘researching’, I even nipped back into the earlier books to update modern references. Loved your story of your experience 🙂
Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience too. Yes, it’s amazing how helpful the police are when it comes to research and totally gratifying. When they’re that helpful I think it pays to check out the facts rather than risk criticisms for getting it wrong.
That was very kind of the retired policeman Diane. There’s nothing like getting information straight from the horse’s mouth. I agree, there is something nostalgic about those old police hats. No doubt former coal miners would not describe them as nostalgic.
Thanks Guy. Yes, I didn’t think of the miners. They obviously evoke very different memories for them. 🙂
Appreeciate your blog post