Inspecting Detectives


Denise Mina's Private Investigation2015102720151101 (RS)
20160101 (RS)

For over a hundred years, the private detective has been a staple of crime fiction. They're the lone crusaders for justice, operating outside the system, putting their lives on the line for their clients with only their own moral compass to guide them.

But the past few years has trashed that noble image. The phone hacking scandal revealed a far less pleasant side of the investigation industry: unscrupulous men and women who'll cheat, lie and break the law without a thought for the innocent lives they ruin.

So what is the reality of this shadowy industry? What sort of person becomes a private investigator? What kind of work do they actually do? And what safeguards are in place to ensure that they operate on the right side of the law?

Denise Mina conducts her own private investigation to find out. She takes to the streets of Glasgow to find out how to trail somebody and meets the men and woman who spend their lives investigating private secrets and public lies.

Denise Mina finds out what it takes to be a private detective in the 21st century.

Good Cop, Bad Cop2015110320160101 (RS)

In a biography programme with a difference, two former police detectives give crime writer Denise Mina a grilling to get to the truth of who she is and what makes her tick.

Tom Wood and Peter Ritchie both have decades of experience in the police and they know how to get the truth out of a suspect. They'll be quizzing Denise on her life, her writing, and her portrayal of police work.

That's a subject they both know inside out and they won't let Denise get away with evasions. They - and we - will get the chance to spot the inconsistencies, the white lies and the downright whoppers.

And at the same time, we'll get an insight into what really goes on in those windowless police interview rooms we're so familiar with from fiction.

From switching on the tape machine and announcing who's present for the record, the scene, so familiar from crime fiction, is set.

Our detectives have heard it all and seen it all - and nothing escapes their attention.

The Hand Detectives2015102020151025 (RS)
20160101 (RS)

Dr Helen Meadows looks like she could grace our screens in Silent Witness, but in actual fact she was works with Professor Sue Black at the pioneering Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee, as a cutting edge hand detective. For the first time Val McDermid is given exclusive access to their work.

The hand is Meadows' area of focus. Variations in scars, skin pigmentation, the smallest nooks and crannies of the fingernail and most importantly, superficial vein patterns. All of these can build a body of evidence and allow the police to identify an offender in an incriminating photograph. Meadows explains that the back of the hand is part of the anatomy that an offender is quite happy to have in an image, whereas they wouldn't necessarily want their face captured. In 2009, the department's work was instrumental in the Neil Strachan case, part of Scotland's biggest paedophile ring. His unusually distorted lunula, the white half -moon at the bottom of a nail helped identify and convict him.

Of the 40 or so cases they have worked on, their data has resulted in over 80 per cent of suspects changing their plea.

Meadows and Black deal with some of the worst elements of humanity. How do they cope when their job, which involves working on images and videos of horrific abuse Her approach is to be as clinical as possible. "It's just like going to the dissection room and looking at an isolated part of the body and treating it in that way." But Professor Black discloses to Val McDermid that because of what she has witnessed during this work she has in fact suffered from post-traumatic stress.

Val McDermid meets hand detectives Professor Black and Dr Meadows.