Crime Writing: Making it Real

Custody and Suspect Interviews Workshop


Led by Police Advisor Graham Bartlett, former senior detective and Sunday Times bestselling author, this online interactive workshop will unveil the real processes that follow the arrest of a suspect – who does what and how.

With help from an experienced custody officer, a homicide interviewer and a live web-chat with a defence solicitor, Graham will illustrate the law and procedure with real world examples and show you how to mould fact into well-paced, authentic fiction.

During the day you’ll cover topics including how suspects are treated, their rights and restrictions, how a custody block looks and feels, police powers, limitations of detention including the use of bail, the role of the custody officer, interviewer and solicitor, how interviews are conducted, phased and escalated, no comment interviews, charging decisions, the CPS and court, and more. 

You will hear from those whose day job this is, see interviews and examples and quiz Graham and a practising solicitor on anything crime related.

You’ll work in a friendly and supportive online group towards your final writing exercise, where you’ll use your new-found knowledge to accurately plot a dramatic interview scene where detectives, solicitor and suspect collide. 

This workshop is part of our Crime Writing: Making it Real course series with Police Advisor Graham Bartlett, helping writers craft authentic crime stories.


Start date: 9 July 2022
Duration: 1 day
Skill level: Intermediate
Session length: 1 day
Sessions: 1
Price: £90 (inc. VAT where applicable)

Course Director

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.

Peter James

Bestselling Crime Author

Timetable for the workshop

Morning session

NB – You will be provided a short text to read prior to the start of the day.

  • 10.00am Introductions, outline of day and icebreaker – If you were arrested who would you
    want the police to tell and why?
  • 10.15am Discussion on the interview scene from set text
  • 10.30am Presentation to cover
    • The timeline from arrest to charge
    • The law on how suspects are treated, their rights and restrictions.
    • The role of the custody officer inc videoed discussion between Graham and Allan, an experienced custody sergeant.
    • What a custody block looks, sounds, feels and smells like. 
    • Limitations on detention including the use of bail
    • How interviews are conducted, phased and escalated
    • The role of the interviewer inc video interview between Graham and Barbara, a homicide and organised crime advanced interviewer.
    • Different styles of interview – video clips including no comment, ‘should have stuck to no comment’ and the over confident.
    • Solicitors
    • Charging decisions, the CPS and court
  •  Writing Exercises 
    1. You are in custody and have just been put in a cell. You’ve never been in police detention before. Describe in as vivid detail as possible what’s going through your mind and what is assaulting your senses.
    2. You have been arrested for murder on the grounds that your car was seen leaving the scene of a stabbing. The victim turns out to be your ex-partner. You weren’t driving the car but you suspect your current partner was without your knowledge. Decide what approach you would take in the interview and why?
  • 12.30pm Q&A with Graham 
  • 1.00pm Lunch
Afternoon session
  • 2.00pm Web Chat with Graham and Neil White, a best-selling author and experienced defence and prosecuting solicitor.
  • 2.45pm Write a dramatic scene whereby your ‘suspect’ is being interviewed by the police regarding the stabbing previously discussed. They have their solicitor present. Choose which phase of the interview to write but include dialogue from both interviewing officers, the suspect and the solicitor.
  • 3.30pm Q&A and wrap-up 
  • 4.00pm Close

This workshop is suitable for crime writers looking to take their stories to the next level and explore authentic police procedural techniques within the genre. 

It’s suitable if you:

  • Write crime fiction and would like to ensure accuracy and detail in your depictions of crime procedure 
  • Are keen to add depth and authenticity to your plotlines and characterisation
  • Want to kickstart a new crime novel idea
  • Enjoy reading crime fiction and want to start writing it
  • Want to join a friendly and supportive group of online learners
  • Can dedicate 10am-4pm to participate in the live workshop

This one-day online interactive workshop will take place as a live Zoom lecture in our online classroom. You’ll learn in a small group of up to 30 participants with one specialist tutor and a dedicated moderator.

Teaching includes: 

  • Interactive Zoom lectures
  • Live Q&A sessions
  • Practical exercises to help you hone your authenticity
  • Writing prompts and formulas
  • Downloadable tutor documents
  • Healthy screen breaks throughout the day


You will need a laptop or computer* with:

  • A reliable broadband internet connection
  • Speakers or headphones
  • The latest version of Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge or Safari
  • Access to Zoom video conferencing platform. Download free
  • QuickTime Player, latest version. Download free
  • A notebook and pen or pencil if you like to make notes by hand

* You can access the course from a tablet or smartphone, but we recommend using a laptop or computer, as this makes it easier to share your work files with your writing group.

Join our alumni

After your workshop, 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 writing

If you would like Graham to give feedback on your work, please email for information.

When writing crime fiction, feel free to gloss over the detail, but never plunge your reader into a procedure or describe an activity unless it’s spot on.

Graham Bartlett

The message is: Don’t guess. There are plenty of people you can ask. I do all the time if I’m not sure.

Graham Bartlett

Ready to start writing?

Price: £90 (inc. VAT where applicable)
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