Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Crime Writer’s Guide To Police Practice And Procedure – Michael O’Byrne

Writing police procedural crime novels, or having police in your fiction, can easily lead to basic mistakes that undermine your story. The world of policing can sometimes seem esoteric, yet understanding the basic structure is easy enough. Especially with a book like this.

Written by a policeman who went through the ranks to the very top, this lays out in a logical order all that you need to know about how the police in the UK work. Although it concentrates on serious crime (as that is what most fiction writers concentrate on), the principles apply to all policing. Investigation, organisation, tools of the trade, technology, and other areas are all covered.

This is not an in-depth study, but it does provide enough information to allow writers to structure their plots correctly. It also works as a handy reference on a point to point basis, with references to useful website and other sources of information.

It does tend to peter out toward the end at a point where I wanted more information. And it does lack what I would have considered essential – a bibliography of standard texts on policing (training manuals and the like). It would also have been interesting to have a chapter on police training and more on internal culture. Crime novels are always interesting, novels about the police would also, I am sure, be of equal interest.

Despite the missing sections I feel would have improved the book, this is an excellent resource for writers. Clearly written, it explains technical matters without jargon and demystifies policing. If you are interested in writing crime novels set in the UK, this is a book you should have on your shelf.