Crime Writing: Custody And Interviewing

The course

From arrest to interview – get your crime story straight.

This one-day live online workshop will unveil the real processes that follow the arrest of a suspect – who does what and how.

Find out 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. Then write a gripping interview scene for your own story.

Expert guests include a custody officer, homicide interviewer and defence solicitor.

This workshop is part of our Crime Writing: Making it Real course series with Police Advisor Graham Bartlett. It runs on UK time, but everything’s hosted in an online classroom accessible 24/7 – so you can join us from anywhere in the world or watch the recordings back.

Graham Bartlett

Meet your course director

Graham Bartlett

Graham Bartlett is a former detective, firearms commander and city police chief of Brighton and Hove with over thirty years of experience. He’s also a Sunday Times bestselling author and understands just how authenticity can help create gripping drama.

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 past muster in court
  • Develop the professional skills writers require (eg discipline, attention to detail, ability to work to deadlines)
  • Increase your professionalism in working with others
  • 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.

Session 1: Morning session on Zoom –

  • 10am Introductions and icebreaker exercise
  • 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 x#bartlettsbloopers – avoiding common mistakes crime writers make.
  • 12.45pm Interview Q&A
  • 1pm Lunch

Session 2: Afternoon session on Zoom –

  • 2pm Writing exercise brief and Q&A
  • 2.15pm Writing time
  • 3.15pm Q&A – turning fact into fiction
  • 4pm Close.

After the course ends, you can continue to chat and share work with your group on our forums. We’ll also upload recordings of the Zoom sessions for you to watch back. Graham will give individual feedback on your writing and answer queries in our online classroom during the week following the session.

Join our alumni

After your course, you have the opportunity to rejoin your classmates in a private alumni area where you can access an archived version of the course materials, forum posts and captured video lectures. Here you can also continue to share writing and ideas with your cohort.

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.

The team

Meet your course team

Graham Bartlett

Graham Bartlett

Police Advisor

Graham Bartlett is a former detective, firearms commander and city police chief of Brighton and Hove with over thirty years of experience. He’s also a Sunday Times bestselling author and understands just how authenticity can help create gripping drama.

More about Graham Bartlett

Allison Aylward


Start your journey


(Including taxes)

It’s so good to immerse myself not just in my story, but the stories of the other participants. Our stories feel like living, breathing organisms that we’re gradually coaxing into life. Rather like the plants my teenage protagonist is learning to care for in the allotment on his estate.

Or get in touch to find out about our payment plans.

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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