Real-life police shamed by 'The Bill', says chief

Some police officers are so incompetent that viewers of detective dramas such as Inspector Morse and The Bill have more chance of solving crimes, one of the most senior chief constables said yesterday.

Mike Todd, head of Greater Manchester Police, told The Independent of his "disbelief" at the lack of skills shown by some officers when interviewing suspects.

Mr Todd also criticised the increasing number of speeding fines being imposed, which he believes is alienating otherwise law-abiding citizens. He said that the growing reliance on speed cameras was a "sledgehammer to crack a nut" and that more warnings or cautions should be issued.

But Mr Todd, 46, who took over the second biggest police force in Britain in October, reserved his most controversial comments for some officers' lack of skill and leadership.

After listening in April to a sample of tape recordings of his officers interviewing burglary suspects, he said: "Some of them would have been better off being interviewed by someone who has watched The Bill or Inspector Morse. I went absolutely mad - disbelief is not an understatement. But we have since come up with a package of training for officers."

Officers failed to ask basic questions, inquire about other possible offences, or show standard interrogation skills.