Crime Writing: Custody & Interviewing Masterclass

The course

From arrest to interview – get your crime story straight.

This online masterclass runs over a week and unveils the real processes that follow the arrest of a suspect – who does what, when and how.

We kick off live on Saturday. Spend the morning Zooming with Graham and expert contributors as you learn about suspect rights and restrictions, police powers, limitations of detention and use of bail, the role of the custody officer, interviewer and solicitor, how interviews are phased and escalated, charging decisions, the CPS and court.

Expert guests include a custody officer, homicide interviewer and defence solicitor, and a world-leading interview academic.

In the afternoon you’ll write a piece of fiction that demonstrates what you’ve learned, and weaves in police procedure seamlessly.

At the end of the day, Graham sets a takeaway task. Either apply the lessons to a section of your work in progress, or work up your piece from the session. Head online throughout the week to workshop your writing with your small group of peers, and access more course materials, resources and discussions. At the end of the week Graham will give one-to-one feedback on your writing.

You can enrol as a standalone, or join as part of our Crime Bundle.

Not on UK time? Everything’s hosted in our online classroom accessible 24/7 – so you can join us from anywhere in the world and complete the Zoom element of the masterclass through the recordings and writing tasks as if you’d been there.

Graham Bartlett

Meet your course director

Graham Bartlett

As well as being a bestselling crime writer, former detective Graham Bartlett advises more than 100 authors and TV makers, including Peter James, Mark Billingham, Elly Griffiths, Anthony Horowitz and BBC Studios. He teaches on a number of Masters programmes and has been delivering hugely successful courses for many years.

In partnership with Police Advisor

We work in partnership with experienced police procedural advisor Graham Bartlett and his team of experts who help scores of writers achieve authenticity in their crime fiction, from HBO TV dramas to the genre’s best loved authors.

How it works

We give you the theory in the form of videos, podcasts, written lectures and reading extracts. In the case of our live workshops, this includes a live online seminar.

You put it into practice by completing the writing assignments.

You share your work with the small group of fellow writers and the teaching team.

Your tutor and fellow learners read your work and give professional-style feedback on your submission. Giving feedback notes helps to build your skills as an editor - a critical part of the writing process.

You reflect on the exercises with the group and share what you’ve learned.

You use what you learned from the feedback and discussions to review your work and improve it.

Things to know

This workshop is designed for crime writers of all levels working on all sub-genres. It’s suitable if you:

  • Would like to make the arrest, custody and interview elements of your writing more accurate
  • Want to know more about what happens to suspects post-arrest and debunk myths
  • Would like insight from insider professionals
  • Like experimenting with writing prompts and learning new techniques
  • Enjoy the discipline of deadlines and peer feedback
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive group of up to 30 learners
  • Can dedicate 10am-4pm (UK time) to participate in the live workshop, or are happy to watch back the recordings afterwards.

This workshop allows you to:

  • Understand what happens from the moment of arrest to charge
  • Find out how long people can be detained, and on whose authority
  • Be able to describe what a cell block looks, sounds and smells like
  • Know what police can or can’t do to a suspect once they are detained
  • Define the roles of the custody officer, gaoler, solicitor, appropriate adult, interviewer and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)
  • Write more gripping and effective interview scenes that hold a reader and pass muster in court
  • Develop the professional skills writers require (eg discipline, attention to detail, ability to work to deadlines)
  • Practise giving effective feedback to other writers and receiving critical notes
  • Build greater independence, autonomy and critical judgment as you work on a final assignment.

Day 1: Morning session on Zoom –

10.00am Introductions and icebreaker exercise

10.15am Presentation, videos and exercises

10.30am Graham introduces the day’s themes, with practical interactive exercises throughout:

  • The timeline from arrest to charge
  • The law on treating suspects, their rights and restrictions
  • The role of the custody officer with discussion between Graham and an experienced custody sergeant
  • How it feels to be in a custody block
  • Limitations on detention including use of bail
  • How interviews are conducted, phased and escalated
  • The role of the interviewer with a discussion between Graham and a homicide and organised-crime advanced interviewer
  • Different styles of interview – including no comment, ‘should have stuck to no comment’ and the over-confident.
  • Solicitors
  • Charging decisions, the CPS and court #bartlettsbloopers – avoiding common mistakes crime writers make

12.15pm Interview Q&A

1.15pm Lunch

Afternoon session on Zoom –

2.00pm Web chat with crime writer and defence solicitor-advocate, Nadine Matheson.

3.00pm Writing time

3.45pm Final Q&A

4.00pm Close

At the end of the day, Graham sets you a longer writing task to apply what you’ve learned to your own work. You’ll have till the end of the week to work on this and workshop drafts in our online classroom alongside your peers, with access to all your course materials and extra resources plus a Q&A forum to ask Graham questions. We’ll upload recordings of the Zoom sessions for you to watch back.

At the end of the week, Graham will read your submission and give individual written feedback on your writing.

Join our alumni community 

After your course, you can join our online alumni community – a friendly group of writers supporting each other as they continue to explore and develop their writing. There’s no cost for this. It’s easy to access via the online classroom, where you can:

  • Revisit all your courses materials, including tutor notes, feedback, videos, podcasts and forum posts
  • Rejoin your classmates, and continue working together in a private space
  • Meet alumni from other courses to find beta-readers and share work on our critiquing forum
  • Network with other writers working in your genre or area of interest
  • Take part in regular ‘sit and write’ Zoom sessions, to push forward with your work-in progress
  • Join our monthly live alumni events with our expert tutors and industry guests, including agents, editors, publishers, competition and festival organisers, and prizewinning writers

Feedback on your work

At the end of the course Graham will give feedback on the procedural aspect of your final submission. If you would like more detailed or ongoing feedback on your work or consultancy for an extra fee, please email [email protected] for details.

Taking things further
If you’d like to continue on to another Professional Writing Academy course, please get in touch for more details.

The team

Meet your course team

Graham Bartlett

Graham Bartlett

Police Advisor

As well as being a bestselling crime writer, former detective Graham Bartlett advises more than 100 authors and TV makers, including Peter James, Mark Billingham, Elly Griffiths, Anthony Horowitz and BBC Studios. He teaches on a number of Masters programmes and has been delivering hugely successful courses for many years.

More about Graham Bartlett

Start your journey


Earlybird price


(Including taxes)

I loved the course and honestly feel it offered more than (just!) the insights into police procedure, which I didn’t expect. The characterisation aspects continues to be genuinely helpful and it’s improved my work a lot, so I’m most grateful. And the forensic element was even more fun then I hoped. I’ve designed training courses and university modules, so I can appreciate a well-designed course when I see one, and this handled so much information brilliantly. I’m looking out for more to do this year!

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Course Alumni

Meet our writers


Crime Writing: Making it Real alum

So many thanks to Graham, experts Kate and Lesley, and our moderator for a superb course. I've learnt so much, had fun and managed to be pretty productive. And everyone taking the course has been stunning - talented, highly effective and generous. What a pleasure it's been.

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