Crime Writing: Covert Policing

The course

Go undercover with the best in the business.

This one-day live online workshop will unveil the ways police track down criminals, using the latest technologies and undercover methods, including digital footprints.

Learn about the human and technical surveillance tactics used by the police, and how to use them to add pace, drama and authenticity to your crime stories.

Meet former undercover officers who’ve operated against the highest tier of criminals and have infiltrated criminal gangs.

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

As well as being a bestselling crime writer, former detective Graham Bartlett advises over 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)
  • 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:
  • 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

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 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 over 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

Allison Aylward


Start your journey


(Including taxes)

Graham Bartlett’s input has been a pivotal element to the success of my Roy Grace novels.  He has applied his extensive and varied policing experience to review my draft novels so as to ensure they are procedurally 100% accurate, that the mannerisms, characteristics and culture of the police shine through, and his eye for detail helps immensely with accuracy and continuity.

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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