No stone left unturned in true crime series, 'New Scotland Yard Files'
While scripted crime shows enjoy a solid audience, true-life whodunits are as popular. There’s an inexplicable fascination with crimes committed by real people.
And channels like CBS Justice and Discovery ID, as well as Lifetime, satiate the appetite, adequately.
Another emerging trend is having a former law enforcement individual to provide insight into crime-solving à la "Homicide Hunter" and "The Real Prime Suspect".
Peter Bleksley, an ex-detective from Scotland Yard, can be added to the list as the presenter of "New Scotland Yard Files" on CBS Justice.
Expanding on how he approached cases while on the job, Bleksley revealed: “Finding the truth is absolutely key. Sometimes police fall into the trap of trying to find proof for something they believe may have happened, but an investigation should always be a search for the truth, as uncomfortable as that might sometimes be, rather than proof.
"Searching for proof can lead to miscarriages of justice, whereas an unshakable and determined search for the truth will give better outcomes.”
He added: “There was a young woman murdered on Wimbledon Common called Rachel Nickell and the police became fixated on a suspect called Colin Stagg, and that investigation just became a search for proof, rather than the truth. Colin Stagg was acquitted of the crime and, many years later, the true culprit was arrested.
"There was another notorious, highly-publicised case in the UK when a very famous television presenter called Jill Dando was murdered on her front doorstep. That investigation also centred on trying to prove somebody’s guilt rather than searching endlessly and tirelessly for the truth. An investigation should always be about establishing the truth.”
On his upcoming show, he offered: “I’ve been in the media for some years now, as a writer, a commentator and an author, so my public profile does lead to me being asked to talk about crime and policing very frequently.
"I was fortunate enough to be approached by the production company, I had some meetings with them and I was thrilled and flattered to be offered the role of the presenter.
"When I was a young, fearless, 25-year-old detective and I walked through the revolving doors of New Scotland Yard for the first time, I was very proud to be able to say that I was a New Scotland Yard detective and to then present a show with this title filled me with huge pleasure and no little pride as well.”
Hinting at what viewers can expect to see, Bleksley said: “We could look at the opening episode, about the murder of David Morley, as an example of finding the turning point in a case.
"Detective Chief Inspector Nick Scola understandably, in the early stages of the investigation, thought this might be a homophobic attack because David was a prominent man within the gay community.
"He had performed heroically when a pub that he worked at was bombed in what was a homophobic attack, so in the early stages of the case, they had that very much as a possibility - that David’s sexuality may have been the motive in the attack, but they had very little evidence.
“It was only by the most painstaking piecing together, scrap by scrap, they eventually discovered that mindless, senseless violence was the reason that David was killed.”
Having spent the better part of his life putting criminals behind bars, he revealed some of the common mistakes that led to their arrest.
“There’s a growing forensic awareness among criminals these days because, of course, the CSI series has been on TV for many years and ‘the CSI effect’ is a real thing.
"There were many crooks who watched a few episodes of that and suddenly thought they were experts in forensic science.
"Fortunately, many of them weren’t, because forensic science gallops on so rapidly that there is an inexorable march and it’s literally changing by the day. For example, DNA science increases and so knowledge improves around the collection of traces of blood, hair, saliva, semen, and other bodily secretions,” he pointed out.
“Criminals often think they’re forensically aware, when in fact their little knowledge turns out to be a very dangerous thing for them because they still get caught.
"They don’t have the forensic training and the attention to minuscule detail that forensic scientists and crime scene examiners have. They think they know it all, when in fact they know very little, fortunately.”
"New Scotland Yard Files" airs on CBS Justice (DStv channel 170) on Sunday at 8pm.