Crime Writing: Covert Policing Masterclass

The course

Go undercover with the best in the business.

This online masterclass runs over a week. Learn how to keep your criminal characters under the radar and power your police chase scenes.

We kick off live on Saturday. Spend the morning Zooming with Graham to find out how police use the latest technologies and undercover methods to track criminals, including digital footprints, ANPR, telematics and CCTV. You’ll become familiar with the human and technical surveillance tactics used by the police, and discuss whether tech and social media has ruined the crime writer’s ability to plot…

You’ll be joined by ‘Dom’, a former undercover officer who has operated against the highest tier of criminals and infiltrated gangs.

In the afternoon, you’ll work on a piece of fiction using your new knowledge to add pace, drama and authenticity to your writing.

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 procedural elements of your stories more accurate and authentic
  • Want to know more about surveillance, intelligence and covert policing tactics
  • 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 10 am-4 pm (UK time) to participate in the live workshop or are happy to watch back the recordings afterward

This workshop allows you to:

  • Understand in what circumstances police covertly track criminals and the different range of covert tactics available
  • Learn why digital footprints are not all they seem, what patchwork surveillance is and how it works
  • Learn how privacy settings on social media are no shield against the police
  • Understand how informants and undercover officers are deployed
  • Learn how overt tactics can maximise covert opportunities
  • Write more gripping and effective covert scenes and explosive chases that drive a story on
  • Keep your antagonist below the radar for as long as your plot requires
  • 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 –

  • 10am Introductions and icebreaker exercise
  • 10.30am Graham introduces the day’s themes, with practical interactive exercises throughout:
  • Has the surveillance state ruined it for crime writers?
  • Why it’s so hard to hide nowadays
  • Digital footprints – why they are not all they seem
  • Covert tactics
  • Patchwork surveillance
  • Human Intelligence
  • Using overt tactics to maximise covert
  • Social media
  • Hiding in plain sight
  • #bartlettsbloopers – avoiding common mistakes crime writers make.
  • 12.45pm Undercover policing Q&A
  • 1pm Lunch

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.

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


(Including taxes)

Graham gave me detailed feedback on my story with advice on making the relationships, reactions, and procedure more realistic. Best of all, this was all done with a lot of encouragement and sensitivity to keeping the integrity of my story. Now I feel like I have something that is both action-packed and factually accurate.

Find out about our payment plans and get in touch.

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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