Crime Writing: Making it Real

Surveillance and Covert Policing Workshop


Led by Police Advisor Graham Bartlett, former senior detective and Sunday Times bestselling author, this live interactive online workshop will unveil the ways police track down criminals, using the latest technologies and undercover methods, including digital footprints. 

Graham will show you how to weave these tactics into your crime fiction to add essential pace, drama and authenticity.

During the day you’ll cover topics including how police use informants, undercover officers, mobile phones, banking, social media, CCTV, vehicles and a whole host more to surveil suspects. You’ll try out techniques using writing exercises and prompts, learn to examine video footage like an insider and have the opportunity to join Q&As in a friendly and supportive online group.

Your final writing exercise will help you figure out how to use your new-found knowledge to accurately keep your antagonist below the radar for as long as your plot requires.

While Graham is not allowed to divulge the most secret tactics, this workshop will put you ahead of your peers and provide you with the tools to write gripping and explosive chases.

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: 8 October 2022
Duration: 1 day
Skill level: All
Session length: 1 day
Sessions: 1
Price: £90 (inc. VAT where applicable)

Course Director

Graham’s advice has been invaluable in ensuring the procedural accuracy of my books. Quite simply the best in the business. Friendly, approachable and an unrivalled source of policing knowledge.

Adam Croft

Crime Author

Timetable for the workshop

Morning session
  • 10.00am 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
  • 1.00pm Lunch
Afternoon session
  • 2.00pm Writing exercise brief and Q&A
  • 2.15pm Writing exercise
  • 3.15pm Q&A – turning fact into fiction
  • 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 20 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

    What writers say about Graham

    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.

    Peter James, No.1 Bestselling Author

    What writers say about Graham

    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.

    T D Veil, Crime Author

    What writers say about Graham

    I simply couldn’t have written my novel, Three Hours, without Graham’s help. He was able to give me detailed factual information, which was invaluable, but also to help with what I was trying to achieve in a more creative way…I wholeheartedly recommend him to any author lucky enough to work with him.

    Rosamund Lupton, Sunday Times Bestselling Author

    What writers say about Graham

    Being able to call on the services of someone as experienced and knowledgeable as Graham Bartlett is an amazing resource…He has made the book so much better than it would otherwise have been.

    Mark Billingham, Bestselling Author

    What writers say about Graham

    Graham is a crime writer’s dream – an author himself but with knowledge of policing at every level.

    Sara Carroll, crime author

    Ready to start writing?

    Price: £90 (inc. VAT where applicable)
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