Just what does ‘Protected’ mean?

The announcement in 2012 of the newĀ UK Protected PersonsĀ Service, a National Crime Agency initiative designed toĀ replace the oldĀ Witness Protection Program was greetedĀ with a predictable raising of eyebrows and shaking of heads. The idea, as I understand it, was to introduce a more consistent approach to witness protection across the various UK constabularies.

Over the summerĀ a few programs have been aired on the subject which got me thinking about what life would be like were one to be wrenched away from family, friends, home, school or work, and deposited anonymously into a completely new environment with no access to bank, social media – or anything really. Clearly it’s all about the safety of the witness(es) and the DCC in charge of the PPS has strongĀ viewsĀ on this subject:-

“We have to be very careful about who knows where they are and from the start, until we know they’re safe and secure, we would discourage them telling people where they are at any stage. But we can facilitate ways to maintain contact over periods of time,” says Deputy Chief Constable Andy Cooke, national policing lead for protected persons.

“We relocate both within the UK and internationally on occasions, depending on the level of threat on the individual circumstance of a case and whether it’s necessary. That doesn’t mean we’re going to relocate them to the Copacabana, but they do get a say.”

Quite how much of a say the witness actually gets is open to debate but having heard real life accounts of those livingĀ under the PPS it’s easy to conclude that the experience is hard on the nerves and less than ideal as a long-term life plan.

DCC Cooke says that no one has ever been seriously injured or killed on the programme, but people have been found – usually when they compromise themselves, for example by returningĀ to their original location.

As an author in need of a short story the PPS seemed a fascinating place in which to locate DCI Brendan Moran for a brief period. You can read the story (which is entitled ‘Watershed’) as the first case in the DCI Brendan Moran Omnibus to be published this month as ‘The Irish Detective’.

The Irish Detective

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