I spent last Wednesday out with the Met, doing research for my 7th Roy Grace novel. It is always interesting to compare police forces, and with 35,000 officers compared to Sussex’s 5,000, the London Metropolitan Police is a different beast in many ways. One of its former chiefs once described the Met as “human garbage collectors”. A tad cynical, but there are some really rough and violent areas on the Met manor, with gun and knife crime at a level that makes Roy Grace’s Brighton seem like a quiet backwater!
At one stage I was sitting in Bushey Park, the Met’s recreational centre having a (soft) drink with an on-call Trident detective – Trident is a division of the Met set up specifically to deal with black-on-black violence. He was telling me that he covered North London and commented that he had not had a murder to deal with for 18 months – they had all been down in South London. At that moment his phone rang – with news that a 15 year girl had been shot in the neck at a takeaway at Hoxton in what sounded like a drive-by shooting. It sounded as if she was likely to die (sadly she did a couple of days later). In Los Angeles, where I have been out with the police, there is a horrid cult of “drive-by” shootings: All new members to a gang have to perform a rite of passage to show how tough they are. In some of the LA gangs, one of these is to shoot dead a random stranger from your passing car. This is done as a way of ensuring the new prospective gang member is not an undercover cop – as they know no cop would shoot a member of the public. Sick, or what?
Anyhow, on a lighter note, knowing how much travel I have to do for my book promotion, the kind Met officers lent me this novel solution to the current grounded airlines problem – my very own Tardis – and a police escort to go with it! Who says coppers ain’t wot they used to be?????