This morning folks, I’m very very pleased to welcome my police consultant Stuart Gibbon to my blog to answer my questions. Stuart is a retired police detective who, upon retirement from the police force, set up a business to assist crime writers (including myself) with the police aspect of their crime novels.
In this blog post, he very kindly answers a few questions I’ve asked him.
Over to you, Stuart.
1) How was your interest in the police first piqued when you were growing up?
It sounds a bit corny but for as long as I can remember, all I ever wanted to be was a Detective in the police. When I was in my teens, growing up in the north-east of England, I signed up to the police cadets in Northumbria Police and a couple of years later I applied to join the Metropolitan Police cadets. I didn’t want to travel so far away from home but, at that time, they were the only police force recruiting cadets. I managed to pass the selection process and spent the next eighteen months preparing for what would hopefully be a career in the police. This period included law studies, physical training and community work. In May 1982 my police constable training began at Hendon police college and, sixteen weeks later, after an awful lot of hard work, I passed out as Police Constable 727 of the Metropolitan Police.
2) What was the training period like?
The training was quite challenging as there was an awful lot of criminal law and police procedure to learn. We had regular exams which you had to pass in order to continue the course. A fair amount of the law needed to be learnt word-perfect so that you could repeat it back to the instructors if required. There were also a lot of practical role-play scenarios which we used to do at the back of the training school building. The area was set out like a high street with a zebra crossing, a few cars and a double-decker bus to make it more realistic. These role-plays were often good fun as you learnt a lot, particularly if you were the police officer, and if you made mistakes it was in the training environment and all part of the learning process.
3) Do you have any particular highlights from your career?
I have many fond memories from my police career but I suppose one of the highlights was passing the selection process which qualified me to become a Senior Investigating Officer (SIO). The course was really tough but getting through it meant that I could then be the lead Detective in charge of Murder and other serious cases. There is no greater responsibility than investigating the Murder of another person and no greater reward than bringing those responsible to justice. I am proud to say that, along with the efforts of my team, I was able to bring just a little comfort to the loved ones of victims at such a tragic time.
4) What prompted you to set up your own consultancy for crime writers and how do you advise authors?
I retired from the police service in 2012 and, having read a number of crime fiction books throughout the years, I recognised that there may be an opportunity to become a writing consultant advising authors on police actions and procedures. If you write a book which has too much procedure in it the reader will probably find it a bit heavy and may give up on it. However, if you are going to include some police procedure then it’s really important that you get the details right or this may also disengage the reader. I set up GIB Consultancy (www.gibconsultancy.co.uk) and now have a number of authors who use my service. In the majority of cases we work via e-mail with the author sending me a list of questions or the relevant section of their work to fact-check. This ensures that we both have a written record which is useful for future reference.
5) What was the writing process like for The Crime Writers Casebook with Stephen Webb?
I first met crime historian Stephen Wade at a literature festival in 2015 when Stephen was part of a panel of crime writers which I chaired. We got chatting and, over the following few months, decided that it would be a good idea to write a book together. We hoped that the combination of Stephen’s encyclopaedic knowledge of crime history and my experience as a Detective would provide an interesting read. A lot of the content from my perspective comes from personal experience together with research where necessary. We drafted the book via e-mail and met up periodically to fine tune. In December 2017 ‘The Crime Writer’s Casebook’ was published. I would describe it as an essential companion for anyone interested in crime, historical or modern-day, whether a reader or writer. It contains true crime case studies and lots of information about police practice and procedures which is invaluable for anyone writing about crime. We are delighted that the book has proved so popular and has received so many positive reviews. At present ‘The Crime Writer’s Casebook’ promotional tour is well underway with talks at Waterstones stores, libraries and other venues.
6) Do you have any more plans to write more books for crime writers?
I certainly wouldn’t rule out a second book as the ‘Crime Writer’s Casebook’ has proved so popular and there are other areas of police procedure and investigation to explore.
I’d just like to finish by thanking you for featuring me and thanks to everyone who has supported and promoted the book.
Thanks for your time, Stuart.