Thursday, 25 April 2019

Busman’s holiday for detective

Busman’s holiday for detective

A DETECTIVE from Henley on a career break returned to police work for a television game show which will be broadcast for the first time tonight (Friday).

Dc George Bradley is one of 14 current or former officers who had to hunt down a gang of “criminals” on The Heist.

The programme follows 10 contestants who must plan and execute a mock theft of £250,000 from a security van, then decide where to hide the money while evading capture.

Dc Bradley’s squad, which consisted of detectives and data analysts from forces across Britain, had 16 days to crack the case while working from a temporary “incident room” in Thirsk, North Yorkshire.

Those who remained uncaught at the end were allowed to keep their £25,000 share of the loot.

The “Yorkshire Police” were filmed for up to 12 hours a day as they pored over evidence, identified suspects and tried to hunt them down.

Dc Bradley, 43, who is married with young children, applied for the role after seeing an advertisement on the professional networking site LinkedIn for experienced detectives.

She attended a screen test at the London offices of Shine TV, which produced The Heist, before being offered the part.

Dc Bradley, who joined the Henley neighbourhood policing team in 2004, said: “I just thought it would be a new challenge, something completely different and outside of my comfort zone. It sounded exciting and I was both free and qualified so I decided to put myself forward.

“They wanted to know whether I was a good detective and I had to give examples of how and why I was. They wanted examples of cunning tactics that I’d used in my career and needed to see that I was switched-on, wily and, most importantly, confident.

“The screen test was effectively the same thing but with the added layer of seeing how you look on camera. Again, it was me talking about myself and answering questions while they filmed it. I assume they wanted to see that I was at ease in that kind of situation.”

She wasn’t told much about the concept until filming began in May. Dc Bradley said: “I knew it would be a live investigation but until they started filming we didn’t even know what kind of crime it would be. It was just like in real life — if there’s a robbery like the one at the jewellery shop in Henley this summer, the victim puts in a 999 call saying there has been a smash-and-grab and the police go straight to the scene. Forensic resources are deployed and all manner of investigative enquiries follow from that.

“As the shoot progressed, we started focusing on individual suspects and, as in a real investigation, we began feeling more confident that we were following the right people as we gathered evidence. I think that realism is why the programme is going to be a huge success.

“It was pretty complicated and I’ve never seen a programme like it before. As far as I was concerned, we were a real team investigating a real crime.

“We bonded from the outset. They were a fantastic bunch of gorgeous, talented and intelligent people, all of whom were real ‘alpha’ types with no wallflowers, which I suppose was the point as it’s a television show.

“It was a chance to do all the fun stuff without any of the usual paperwork and you can’t beat police officers for having a laugh and being fantastic company so it was a no-brainer.

“I’m still in touch with them every day, especially now that it’s building to a crescendo before being broadcast. It was very tiring and full-on and I still have no idea what was happening from the contestants’ perspective, so it will be interesting to see the finished programme.

“It was a relief to finish as we were all incredibly tired and my family were missing me very much. It was nice to get home and return to some kind of normality but I would do it again if the opportunity presented itself.

“I’m looking forward to watching the programme because so far I haven’t seen anything apart from the trailer. Some of the other team members have seen snippets and say it’s absolutely fantastic.”

Dc Bradley, who grew up in Nottinghamshire, joined Thames Valley Police in 1998 shortly after moving to the area and spent her first six years as a police constable in Didcot. She became a detective in 2005, two years after moving to Henley.

She was initially a member of Henley CID before moving to the force’s priority crime team at Didcot, which covered the whole of South Oxfordshire. More recently she was based at Abingdon.

She decided to take a 24-month break at the start of this year as she was approaching her 20th workanniversary and wanted to spend more time with her family. She is currently working part-time as a swimming instructor at Henley leisure centre and in an office role at Townlands Memorial Hospital.

Dc Bradley said her policing role had changed over the past two decades.

She said: “When I first started, I was investigating more serious crimes like arson with intent to endanger life and one of my first jobs in Henley was a very serious assault for which two men were sent to prison.

“The people we were looking for were mostly local whereas latterly we’ve seen more robberies, burglaries and organised crime where people have travelled in from outside the area, which makes it harder to find them.

“It used to be that whenever a crime was committed, you’d have some idea of who was responsible and while that still happens to a degree, there are a lot fewer local criminals so there’s more cross-border work with other forces.”

Dc Bradley enjoys attending community events including the Henley Literary Festival, for which she is a volunteer.

She said: “I absolutely love Henley. The people are just wonderful and we’re lucky to have so many things going on.”

The Heist will be shown on Sky One and NowTV at 9pm.

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