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on 6 May 2009
After searching fruitlessly for years I found this little gem.
There are any number of guides based on US law and procedures but precious few on English law and fewer still that are up to date.
Michael's book is an excellent reference guide for writers to ensure your "writer's license" doesn't stray too far from facts but, as a bonus, it is also an absorbing read in its own right.
Anecdotes and case histories are included as examples but it doesn't sink into the mire of just being an autobiography.
Michael sets out to write a guide we can all use and he succeeds in spades. A must for every crime writer's reference book shelf. Look no further.
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on 13 June 2009
After trawling through many books on police procedures (which usually end up being based on the US system), I was looking forward to the release of this which I saw advertised on Amazon. I have not been disapointed as it is a pleasure to read; not just as a reference book but as an interesting non-fictional book. Obviously the author has credibility and it is written in a clear style, with the technical language being used without it suffocating the reader. I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the british police force.
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on 25 May 2009
This book is a well written and well organised overview of how the UK police force operates.
You can tell it was penned by someone who knows what they're talking about. Highly recommended for people who want to know the parameters a modern police force has to stay within and still secure a safe conviction.
Absolutely indispensable in my opinion.
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on 7 August 2010
Up-to-date non-US books for crime-writers are thin on the ground so I welcomed finding this. It's engagingly written, clear and the writer obviously has first-hand experience. Just a few quibbles - it focuses almost entirely on murder investigation processes and not all crime stories are murder mysteries; legal proceedings in court aren't covered. Otherwise an interesting read that gave me a couple of new ideas.
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on 9 August 2009
I usually write comedy but am currently writing a psychological thriller screenplay and this book gives enough factual information on police procedure to make any script, or book, realistic. Nothing worse than totally unrealistic scenarios to make the scene 'jar' as the author himself puts it. It is also not too technical and is easy to read. A good reference book for the writer.
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on 4 October 2009
This is a fantastic little book for anyone who is writing crime scenes...not just detective novels but anything involving police in general. It provides everything you need to know from police structures to how forensics operate and I found it a massive help. I thought I would have to get arrested myself in the name of research to find out what goes on, but thank god I found this book!!
The author writes in a really easy going style so it's easy to understand, and each section is short but succinct, giving you enough of an overview to furnish your writing. I love the way he points out where detective shows, and Dan Brown, have got it wrong as well!
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on 18 May 2009
Having attended a course for crime writers run by Michael Obyrne, I keenly awaited the publication of his book and have not been disappointed. It is by my computer as I write my third crime novel. Full of useful and up to date information, I recommend all writers wanting to involve any sort of crime into their novel to make sure they have a copy.

The in depth information has allowed me to take my novel in a different direction at a time of writer's block.
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on 23 May 2013
There's no substitute for practical experience and it is clear the author has this in abundance. The material is well organised and well written with a lucid but conversational style. Where appropriate Mr Byrne is unafraid to state his opinion, for instance the section on the limitations of profiling is fascinating. But as you would expect from someone who has spent a career being objective he makes his case by clearly citing the underlying evidence for holding his view.

There are plenty of details to lend realism to your plot - it's very interesting to watch a high quality drama like "The Bill" (in the early and middle years) once you understand the jargon and command structure of an inquiry (SIO, FLO etc). There are some real gems like pointing out that the popular image of hard boiled detectives ignoring the smell of a corpse while junior officers are sick is often the other way around as "uniform" attend all kinds of scenes from RTCs to murders.

I heartily recommend this book to any aspiring UK crime writer and will be attempting to contact the author to procure his services as a consultant once on my outline and first draft.
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on 18 August 2013
I found this a very useful basic guide to police procedure for a layperson. I would, however, have liked an appendix on differences between policing in England and Wales and what happens in Scotland. I was also astonished at two glaring errors in historical dates. Scotland lost its monarchy with the Union of the Crowns on the death of Elizabeth I in 1603 and lost its parliament in 1707. The author gives dates a century later for each of these events.
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on 26 January 2013
The Crime Writer's Guide to Police Practice and Procedure by Michael O'Byrne is an excellent guide to how the police forces work in the UK. Who will be first on the scene when a body is found? How is evidence collected? How are criminal investigations planned and managed?

Michael O'Byrne is a retired British police officer who rose from constable to chief constable (the highest rank), having worked in the Royal Hong Kong Police, the Metropolitan Police (including New Scotland Yard), Surrey, Thames Valley and Bedfordshire. He writes in plain English, from experience, with intelligence and humour. Even if you're not writing crime books, it's an interesting read.

This book explains how British police forces interact with each other and with police forces overseas, what kind of information is available through Interpol, and why, the numbers of officers needed for investigations of serious crimes, how the depiction of the police on TV differs from the reality, some of the differences between UK and US policing, how evidence is gathered and stored, whether evidence gained illegally is permissible in court in the UK, and so on.

The author also gives us his views on professional profilers, tells us which crime writers he enjoys reading, and why, and also reflects on the cyclical nature of change in big organisations. He tells us whether a detective or a uniformed officer is more likely to vomit at the scene of a murder (the vomiting rookie cop is a common trope in TV police drama, of course), gives us a hint about which regional police force might be watching too much TV, and explains how HOLMES works (the police computer, not Britain's most famous fictional detective).

The book is matter-of-fact, credible and entertaining. Highly recommended.
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