Paul Finch: The Bill script writer, author and former police officer

“The entire Division’s going up!”


It wasn’t unusual to hear that phrase on night patrol in Manchester back in the bad old days of the 1980s. Especially if the night in question was either a Friday or Saturday.


‘Going up’ was Greater Manchester police parlance for all Hell breaking loose, something that happened with alarming regularity on the F-Division, where I spent the bulk of my police service. If this creates an impression in your mind’s eye of burning cars, feral faces, shattered glass, and blood spattering filthy pavements – then good, that’s totally correct.

In that environment there was barely time to draw breath let alone complain that you had too many forms to fill in (though you did have – you always did). Police stations on the F-Division were cramped, dingy warrens, constantly swarming and rowdy. Typical of any siege situation, the camaraderie among us cops was second-to-none, but the atmosphere was usually one of intense concentration because while you were running around locking up thugs, dispersing crowds and consoling victims (or trying to, in your loutish hairy-arsed bobby way), you were also gathering information, collating evidence, interviewing suspects (maybe for as many as twelve different cases per shift), navigating your way through numerous potential legal entanglements, and always, at every stage, doing your damnedest to stop the bullshit reaching the brass – because those monkeys could come down on you more viciously than the worst gangsters ever would.


You may wonder why I’m telling you all this instead of introducing myself properly. Well, the answer is simple – this is a brief flavour of what you’ll be getting in my books; a fleeting glimpse of a dirty, dangerous and highly stressful world, which even though it exists for real right under the average citizen’s nose, is something most of us will thankfully never see. It’s a world where a different language is spoken, where nothing is what it appears, where power games are played even among allies, where rules are bent and arms twisted, where human tragedy is always close, and deadly violence may threaten at a second’s notice (and not just from the bad guys!), and yet where everything must be made alright all the end of the day on a simple sheet of paper.


My name is Paul Finch and for a time I was a cop in Manchester. My police experiences were the most significant of my life, so it’s perhaps no surprise that I first began to make real ground as an author by penning episodes of The Bill. When it comes to writing novels, of course, there are no such restrictions as come with a 9pm watershed. So you can expect our main hero, Detective Sergeant Mark ‘Heck’ Heckenburg, to experience the worst kinds of urban mayhem.

Heck, who started his service in Manchester but has now transferred to a specialist unit in London, is already a veteran street-cop even though he’s only in his late-30s. He doesn’t go around shooting people, but the underworld doesn’t like it when someone plays them at their own game and yet Heck isn’t the sort of cop who backs down easily – so if you prefer hard action to slow procedure, you won’t go far wrong with this series of books.


To get a real taste of what I write, you’ll have to read it for yourself, so please take a look at this Extract of Stalkers. I hope you enjoy it.

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