My latest book Necessity’s Door is set fair and square in the world of the British police force (at least the non-uniformed, detective part of it). I don’t know about you but here in the UK we see lots of films and tv shows about the American police and their practices, but much less about our own – and some of the home grown tv series are made for the overseas market and not always 100% accurate.
So, here’s a quick potted tour around the British police that I thought might be fun. Some of it might even surprise you!
1. The first official police force in England was formed in London in 1829 by Sir Robert Peel – and still forms the basis of the Metropolitan Police in London even today. Early police officers were known affectionately as ‘peelers’, after Sir Robert’s last name. Later on that changed to ‘bobbies’ after his first name, and that nickname still persists.
2. The English police are organised into regional forces such as ‘West Midlands’ or ‘West Mercia’, each run by a Chief Constable, which are broken down further into separate divisions for each county (such as ‘Warwickshire’). Recently there’s been talk of disbanding these separate regional forces and forming one country-wide force which would cut down on waste and help to save money. So far, nothing has happened!
3. British police don’t carry guns. Each force can call on an armed response vehicle, staffed by officers with firearms training, if they have to deal with dangerous or armed suspects, and some divisions of the Metropolitan Police (in London) do routinely carry weapons. These include officers guarding the Prime Minister’s residence at 10, Downing Street, and officers on patrol at high security locations such as Heathrow Airport. But your average ‘bobby on the beat’ doesn’t carry a gun.
4. Each uniformed police officer works a pattern of shifts which can be as long as twelve hours a day (to a maximum of 40 hours a week) but changes regularly, with regular time off. Non-uniformed staff (including ‘back room’ staff, civilian staff and detectives like Jake and Mac) work more regular office hours, nine-to-five or similar, five or six days a week, although they can always be called on to work longer hours in an emergency. Major police stations are open to the public 24/7 for assistance or to report crime but many smaller stations no longer open at night and some aren’t accessible to the public at all.
5. The uniform of white shirt, dark blue trousers and helmet first appeared in the 1860s – before that police officers wore long coats and top hats, which must have made chasing criminals interesting! Nowadays the uniform also includes a stab vest, reflective jacket and a belt containing torch, baton, cs spray and handcuffs. The typical tall helmets often seen on British bobbies in old films are still used on ceremonial occasions but have mostly been replaced with flat caps.
6. Unlike their American counterparts, British police officers tend not to have regular partners – different shift patterns and job requirements see to that. However, in a small force, or where officers have skills that complement each other (Mac providing back-up for Jake, for instance) it’s likely that certain officers will end up working together more often than not.
So there you have it! I hope that was at least a little bit interesting and that it might have whetted your appetite for more.
Being an openly-gay detective in Birmingham comes with its share of problems. For one, the pay is awful. For another, Jake always gets stuck with the crappy undercover jobs. Like posing as a prostitute to catch the new crime boss in town—a man notorious for rough sex with pretty young rentboys.
Jake’s latest op is fraught with difficulties, all of them men. Like his partner, Mac, who he’s secretly fancied for months. And his new client, Graham, who he keeps sleeping with for reasons far beyond maintaining his cover. And of course there’s the target, Frank Warren, who’s much harder to lure than Jake had anticipated.
The longer the job drags on, the tougher it gets for Jake to juggle his own needs with those of the job. They may be closing in on Warren, but Jake’s heart—and moral compass—are slipping through his fingers. Mac is there to back him up, but is he really the man Jake needs? Tough to tell among all those lies Jake’s been telling himself and everyone else.
Like the sound of it? Want to read more? There’s an excerpt and further details at the Riptide Publishing website so feel free to click on over there and have an explore.
During this blog tour I’m holding a little contest with a variety of prizes. There’s a perfect-bound (ie print) copy of my earlier gay cop story ‘Any Means Necessary’, a print copy of Radgepacket Volume 2 which contains my gay short story ‘Rock and a Hard Place’, and various bits and pieces of general swag!
All you need to do is answer the following three simple questions, the answers to all of which can be found in ‘Necessity’s Door’. When you have the answers, email them to me personally and I’ll put all the correct entries into a hat (well, actually a willow-pattern bowl, but who’s checking…) and the first correct entry drawn from the bowl at the end of the blog tour will win the prize.
Here are the questions:
1. What is the real name of The Blue Baboon gay club?
2. What colour is Frank Warren’s hair?
3. How much does Warren pay Jake for sex?
Think you know the answers? Then get emailing and good luck! I’m looking forward to hearing from you. And in the meantime if you’d like to find out more about me and my work, then please just drop into my website
or my blog