Am I too generous in my portrayal of the Police in ‘Accounting for Murder’?

How honest is my opinion about the Police?

I have written before about my attitude to the Police. As a writer of crime fiction, I have to portray the forces of Law and Order. You are entitled to ask whether the image in my books is the one in my head, or is it just something I have created for artistic purposes? The answer is that I try to be realistic, but make some allowance for the demands of the story. As I said before, if the constabulary did a wonderful job every time, why would we need an amateur detective like Frank Hill.

A detective looking for clues. Whether amateur or Police, let's hope he does a good job.
A detective looking for clues. Whether amateur or Police, let’s hope he does a good job.
Does my view of the Police matter?

I know that I have a certain responsibility, because what we read, even in fiction, affects our world-view, at least to some extent. You tend to believe something you hear often, even if it is a lie or half-truth. The image sticks. It becomes an assumption rather than a stated belief.

Has my opinion of the Police changed recently?

Yes! To some extent. As I said before, in any profession there are bound to be some people who do their jobs really well, others who do it satisfactorily and some who are in the wrong job. I did not suggest those who enforce the Law in the UK are generally corrupt or unjust. However, two recent legal cases have brought out some worrying facts.

  • In one, the Court dismissed rape charges against a man, when the Prosecution admitted that the Police had withheld from his defence team evidence that was in his favour .
  • In another case, the Court held the Police liable in negligence for repeatedly failing to act on allegations against a taxi driver who was a serial rapist.

One of the worrying aspects of both cases was the reluctance of the Police to admit their fault, even after the Court judgements.

  • In the first case, it seems they were more concerned about getting a conviction than obtaining justice.
  • In the second case, they appeared to be saying they had to prioritise resources. Was an allegation of rape not a sufficiently high priority?
How will this affect the portrayal of the Police in my writing?

That remains uncertain. In the second book in the series Accounting for Murder, which is subtitled Old Money, I show the Police as honest and reasonable. They just get it wrong and are quite hostile to Frank, at least at first. Perhaps you will see more serious failings in later books in the series. Old Money will be published later this year. Hopefully, in a few months. I hope the Police will have started to improve by the time you read my third book in the series.