A best-selling crime author says he is thrilled and honoured with an award from Sussex Police for a film he created exposing the dangers of rape to school children.

Peter James – who lives near Henfield and is best known for his Roy Grace detective series – has won the Sussex Police Outstanding Public Service Award, an accolade rarely presented to a non-police officer.

“I have been lucky enough to win literary awards over the years,” Peter told the County Times, “but in many ways this means more to me because it directly benefits both the police and hopefully today’s generation of teenagers.”

Entitled ‘Rape – Short Word, Long Sentence’, the educational film, to be accompanied by lesson plans, tells the story of three schoolgirls who go to a party with tragic consequences – at the end one of the youngsters is processed at the police rape cente in Crawley, while a young man lingers in a police cell awaiting his fate.

It was while researching his sixth Roy Grace novel ‘Dead Like You’ that the thriller writer first established a rapport with the Sussex Police Rape Prevention Team.

Peter said: “I learned just what a high percentage of all rapes are so-called ‘date rape’ among teenagers. The impact on the rest of their lives is truly devastating.”

So when police asked if he was willing to help them find a way to reach teenagers with their warning s , Peter was keen for the challenge.

The resultant co-production with Brighton University film school will be shown to 14 to 18 year olds in Sussex, Surrey and Kent, after which it goes nationwide. Renowned for gritty thriller writing where horror features strongly and few punches are held, Peter made it clear that the film, despite its subject matter, is ‘geared for kids’, with ‘funny elements’, and music ‘courtesy of JLS’.

Deputy chief constable Giles York, who presented the author with his prize said: “To bestow such an award on Peter James is the least we could do for the amount he has given that will have such a learning opportunity for so many young people, boys and girls, indeed, I think it is already changing their lives.”