Characters and Scenarios in a Police Procedural Novel

by Graham Maranda

 

I've just completed answering a series of questions from a writer whose main characters include the police investigations team of a fictitious Australian rural city (population around 30,000). 

Here is some of the information I shared.

Local Area Command

 The LAC Commander (rank of Superintendent) is responsible for all policing functions with the Local Area Command (LACs).  There are around 80 Local Area Commands within NSW.  These LACs areas are loosely based around Local Government precincts (City Council or Country Shire Council areas).

Within each Local Area Command is a Crime Manager (who holds the rank of Detective Inspector) who reports and answer to the LAC Superintendent.

 Investigators' Chain of Command

  •  Detective Inspector (Crime Manager)
  • Detective Sergeant (Investigation Supervisor)
  • Detective Senior Constable
  • Detective Constable (these are few and far between)
  • Plainclothes Constable (rookie investigator).

NSW Police Insignia

I answered questions about how these team members address each other and refer to each other (the acronyms DS or DI etc., are used in the UK but not within the NSW Police).

Career Paths & Promotion

 Various factors typically affect the kind of career paths chosen by individual police officers, including their choice of city or country positions.

I found an accurate summary in Wikipedia, on the system of promotion to Sergeant and beyond.

When I need to check my facts or do a cut and paste, I normally use the Internet through Google. The training and assessments for designation of Detective is thorough and lengthy, so Detectives wear this title proudly.

Duties of a General Investigations Team

  • They attend Break, Enter & Steal offences only if theft of substantial value.
  • Attend suicides to ensure no suspicious circumstances prevail.
  • Attend suspicious deaths (direction of the NSW Coroner)
  • Attend suspicious fires (Arson Investigation)
  • Investigate only serious assaults such as Grievous Bodily Harm.
  • In the country attend theft of cattle/sheep/horses where it is of high value.
  • They provide a multitude of advice to uniformed police who come seeking guidance on a raft of matters.

Calling in major crime investigators, and relations between the two groups

 This depends on whether the inquiry will be a protracted one that the LAC staff could not maintain, and whether the matter is politically sensitive (State Government, that is).  Also, whether organised crime is involved in the crime/s.

In closing...

 This writer's questions were diverse and included important detail such as whether the Superintendent would normally fraternize after work hours with the investigations team (not unless it was a Christmas function or a send-off for somebody moving out of the area).

Also, she asked whether detectives would sometimes use their private vehicles for investigation duty (absolutely not, as this would compromise their privacy and therefore the safety of themselves and their family members - thereby breaching Occupational Health & Safety law.)

© Graham Maranda

 

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