Edit: OK, questions over now! Thank you all once again, I had an enjoyable day, but I'm beat!! Bye!

Edit: All, thanks for your questions - I will reply to anything outstanding, but I have been on here for 6 hours or so, and I need a break!!!!! Have a great day!!!!!

I have over 22 years law enforcement experience, including 16 years service with the police in London, during which time I operated undercover, in varying guises, between 2001-2011. I specialised in infiltrating criminal gangs, targeting drug and firearm supply, paedophilia, murder, and other major crime.


In May 2013, I wrote an autobiography entitled 'Crossing the Line' https://www.amazon.co.uk/Books-Christian-Plowman/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=i%3Abooks%2Cp_27%3AChristian%20Plowman and have a useful potted biography published by a police monitoring group here http://powerbase.info/index.php/Christian_Plowman

Comments: 2119 • Responses: 104  • Date: 

Iphotoshopincats2761 karma

Ever had someone say to you "are you a cop because you have to tell me if you are" and seriously think it works that way?

theurbanjedi5839 karma


I was dealing with a drug dealer, who was such a nice bloke, and honestly, I would have gone for a beer with him under other circumstances.

It was his day to be arrested, and he gave me my crack and heroin. I gave him my cash, and he said 'Chris, I really like you man. I really get in with you. But, can you just tell me one thing?' 'Sure' I said 'Youre not an undercover policeman are you? Because if you are, you legally have to tell me' Me: 'Nah, of course not mate'

Seconds later he had been pinned ot the floor and handcuffed by the arrest team, and it made me fell quite sad in fact.

Its an urban myth obviously, as some previous sub reddits have pointed out,

Tweaney630 karma

Does the guy find out he has been betrayed then and there or do you kind of get fake arrested too?

theurbanjedi1295 karma

Usually you go for the fake arrest. That's always fun.

Hicko11664 karma

Do your colleagues take you down rough because it might be the only time they get to?

theurbanjedi1348 karma

Yes, they took full advantage of being able to throttle me and get up close!

Geoff_Uckersilf355 karma

How hard does old bill go after weed dealers/users?

theurbanjedi660 karma


Are they causing a problem in the community /area? Are they evidently making a shit load of cash illegally? Are they involved in other crime?

the-bearded-lady346 karma

I think he may be a low key weed dealer

theurbanjedi474 karma

I wouldn't worry then!

Tommy_tom_279 karma

Did you get the chance to speak to him again after that? How did that go?

theurbanjedi716 karma

No I never saw the guy again unfortunately.

I think he was the sort of chap who would have been apologetic and remorseful tbh.

-RedWizard-232 karma

I'm guessing you don't have to be at the trial because of cover?

theurbanjedi540 karma

No, we would always give evidence at court. Certain precautions are taken, but it is a basic right that the defendant has an opportunity to face his accuser.

Pseudonyms are used, and we would be screened from public view.

rsplatpc297 karma

Pseudonyms are used, and we would be screened from public view.

do you sit behind a sheet and we watch your shadow?

theurbanjedi1479 karma

Yes, And if I feel in a frolicking mood, I will amuse the jury with a hastily constructed puppet show depicting precisely what happened. /s

Angel-OI193 karma

Ever said that to someone yourself while undercover?

theurbanjedi666 karma

No, but I often wore a t shirt which was emblazoned with the legend; COPS TAKE DRUGS

cogra238 karma

Is there anything that can be said that you can't answer or get you to do something that would make it a lesser crolime? For example, if I'm selling drugs could I make you steal them from my pocket.

theurbanjedi24 karma

Hm. I am just trying to decipher what you may mean before I answer.

Do you mean if you were committing a crime, is there naything you could do to make it appear to be a lesser crime?

Do you mean if you got arrested for 'dealing' drugs, would you be bale to say 'I wasn't dealing them, he stole them from me?'

cogra2310 karma

Yes. Basically, is there anything I can say or do to a potential undercover officer that would invalidate or lessen my crime?

theurbanjedi48 karma

Simply put, no.

JaFFsTer2 karma


theurbanjedi4 karma

I'm not too sure what you mean?

SmitedAsh2557 karma

Have you ever rolled on the ground and fired your gun in the air whilst screaming "AAAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHHH"?

theurbanjedi2192 karma


Jynx31625 karma

Were you ever stabbed through the hand by a man dressed as Father Christmas?

theurbanjedi1966 karma

Yes when I was deemed too efficient and maverick, and posted to a sleepy village called Sandford.

theurbanjedi2515 karma

In fact, did you know that Sandford is the name given to the fictional town used for practical and exam scenarios in UK police promotion exams, and this is before Hot Fuzz came out

mullac53143 karma

I wasn't sure I believed you before this but that's a good bit of knowledge. But what's the shopping centre called?

theurbanjedi802 karma

I dunno mate, I failed the sergeants exam three times.

DancinWithWolves1292 karma

With all that time spent undercover, infiltrating gangs and arresting criminals, how much do you worry about being recognized by former associates? What do you think you'd do if you were recognized?

Thanks for the AMA!

theurbanjedi2137 karma

I don't worry about it consciously, but I take these weird subconscious precautions. Like I travel different routes to work, and I actively avoid particular areas, or try to.

I'm lucky because I worked in London, and London is huge. Anonymity is guaranteed. Also, I have been in the public eye, and I left the police several years ago, so I think if anyone wanted to get me, they would have done so by now.

If i was recognised in the street now, I would just deny it. I have enough confidence in myself and in the environment I am in to be able to get out of such a confrontation, but I wouldn't relish it at all.

DancinWithWolves639 karma

Wow. That's insane, thanks for answering!

Sounds like you've been in the game long enough that convincing them that you aren't who they think you are would be similar to what you did undercover.

theurbanjedi1146 karma

Exactly. Its a sad fact that I am in effect, a trained deceiver. So, when its neccessary, I am pretty confident I can bluff it.

PS Its a pleasure to answer!

Just_ace_1164 karma

Did you ever encounter any crooked cops or people in positions of power whilst you were undercover? If you did, did the higher-ups care about your findings on these people if it wasn't related to the case you were currently investigating?

theurbanjedi1816 karma

Crooked cops, a few, yes. And they get investigated with a thoroughness you wouldn't believe, even when it is nothing to do with the current case.

Humanityisfucked961094 karma

What was the most difficult thing you had to do to maintain your cover?

theurbanjedi3107 karma

Whilst bored at the beginning of a long term drugs operation, I decided to adopt a faux-Russian accent. The job lasted for many months, and I found it somewhat exhausting to keep that up. Some drug dealers also thought it was a piss take, and it led to several comical arguments in seedy council estate stairwells.

Probably most difficult thing was pretending to be a paedophile, and being enthusiastic and discussing some of the most abhorrent things humanly possible.

SmokeDatPENG828 karma

Do you actually know Russian?

One of them could have typed 'are you undercover' in google translate on his phone and pressed the play option, then asked you what it said...

theurbanjedi1341 karma

Luckily yes I do, a bit. I was happy that if I encountered a Russian, I would be able to blag my way through any issues.

MrGooses452 karma

That's hilarious! (The fake accent part that is). Why did you do it? For shits and giggles?

theurbanjedi863 karma

Precisely that. I got so bored and almost m=numbed through years of the drudgery of buying drugs, I need to sex it up a bit.

3D_bartholomew432 karma

sex it up a bit.

Wait.. are we talking about the accent thing or the pedo thing?

theurbanjedi635 karma

deffo the accent

bbfire265 karma

After people started questioning the accent was there ever a moment of "oh shit I might die because of shits and giggles"?

theurbanjedi433 karma

yes, because it caused some friction with some nasty dudes who thought I was taking the piss out of them, and I had to beat a hasty retreat after being threatened with a stabbing!

siredmundsnaillary1007 karma

What's your view on police having a relationship with someone using their undercover identity?

theurbanjedi1627 karma

Its wrong, and I have been very clear about this in previous dealings with the media. I don't approve of it, and a professional operator should not need to shag someone to maintain their cover, and certainly not with the tacit approval of superiors.

However, when you expect someone to go undercover with a small group, for 7 years, it is human instinct to form relationships, so I can maybe understand how it has happened in the past. I don't condone it, but I might understand it under certain circumstances.

This is all being covered by the Pitchford enquiry in the UK, which I am sure will doubtless reveal some of the more interesting questions about this activity.

ballsackjohn646 karma

However, when you expect someone to go undercover with a small group, for 7 years, it is human instinct to form relationships,

How do people who have been undercover for so long cope when it is over?

It seems like it would be really draining to be undercover for years, to have that be your life, and then one day it just ends.

theurbanjedi743 karma

Well, just look up Mark Kennedy and you will see what a drain it was for him.

Didiams780 karma

What was your closest call? Edit: More specifically when undercover. Were you ever close to being exposed?

theurbanjedi1585 karma

Hmmm. When youre undercover, you experience extreme rights of paranoia, so this is difficult to quantify.

I think maybe the occasion alluded to above was the closest.

I had been going to a particular pub for months, getting my face known etc etc in order to get into a local criminal gang, known to loathe outsiders and by uber-suspicious.

All was going well, but the senior officer in charge wanted some action, despite me saying this is a 'softly-softly' long term job,

So, they sent along a fellow undercover officer, who was (a lovely guy, but) loud, brash and gregarious, the exact opposite to me.

Maybe I was being overly paranoid, but bearing in mind, I had had no trouble in this place for months, this fellow UC approached me one evening in the pub, and said one of the gang had just accused him of being a police officer.

I wanted to then leave, but thought better of it, choosing to brave it out. Well, the alcohol continued to flow, and I remember I had drunk so much I had to be sick outside. As I was merrily vomiting outside, some of the gang began leaving the pub, and addressing me as 'officer' and 'sarge'

In my criminal guise, I decided to take umbrage at this and began a full-on argument with them, and was joined by my colleague. This scenario narrowly missed descending into ultra violence when the landlord grabbed us both and locked us in the now empty pub, and barricaded the doors.

Stuff was being thrown at the pub and shouting and hollering etc, which after about 10 minutes, died down. Thankfully.

We were lucky not to get a kicking tbh.

MrPikalu268 karma

How do you afford to be drunk while undercover? I mean, you can slip up and say the wrong things right?

theurbanjedi518 karma

Yes. Absolutely. So you have to be in that particular drunk frame of mind where you still have a level of being compos mentis. If such a thing exists.

Its not something which is condoned, but it does happen.

BaconMemes774 karma

Most creative excuse you received when making an arrest?

theurbanjedi1637 karma

As an undercover officer, I would never have been involved in arresting anyone. The targets would only ever know of my involvement when neccessary, and sometimes it would be revealed during 'tactical interviewing'.

So for example, I spent several months buying crack and heroin from a group dealing drugs in a Jamaican barber shop. I went for the down and out look, with faux suppurating leg ulcers and a pervasive odour of urine...

The suspects were all arrested (they had a Mac 10 in the premises too) and they were shown the video footage of me going up to them on about 60 occassions, exchaging money for drugs etc.

They were asked in interview what was going on, and they all stated that I was a well-known local homeless itinerant, and they were good Christians, so were giving me money and food.

That, unfortunately, was the nail in theory coffin, because then it is revealed who I really am, and the evidence is laid out (video, chain of custody of the drugs I was sold, DNA etc etc) and they have no choice but to plead guilty.

Timergu822 karma

You had to buy drugs from them 60 times before having enough evidence that they were drugdealers?

theurbanjedi1297 karma

No, i didn't HAVE to, but there were some 25 plus dealers operating from the premises, and best practice was to get 3 or 4 corroborated buys from each.

Procepyo451 karma

Did you go after their suppliers ? Or are the "street-dealers" the primary target ?

theurbanjedi1082 karma

When I did it it was street dealers, which is ridiculous - you just end up chasing your tail, and achieving nothing, hence my disillusionment!

There is some effort to get to the higher up people, but then you are talking about very very long term and complex operations usually, which dont get sanctioned by the senior officers (who want figures and statistics)

Its much better for them to say 'A long term covert operation culminated in the arrest of 50 drug dealers in Sandford today (read 50 poor guys selling drugs on behalf of someone else, for a hundred quid a day, and being easily replacable)' and that gets them kudos.

Procepyo200 karma

Thanks man :D A lot of people seem angry with my question. But I was curious how true the Wire was in the UK. But you answered it somewhere else.

the senior officers (who want figures and statistics)

Seems rather universally true then, sadly.

Its much better for them to say 'A long term covert operation culminated in the arrest of 50 drug dealers in Sandford today

Do you have any clue how this could be changed ? Because it seems many cops (even the most "hard-core") agree that the current approach isn't really working. But yet, those with the field experience seem to be ignored, by both voters and politicians.

theurbanjedi254 karma

I have no idea how to change it in the short term, but organisations such as LEAP are doing some great lobbying and advocacy work.

crazyScott90100 karma

Wow an actual functioning Mac 10? Or was it a semi-auto derivative? Those are uncommon even in the states. Finding something like that in London must have felt like finding a mobile artillery piece in someones backyard. How often did you find firearms in your time as an officer?

theurbanjedi204 karma

SA derivative, part of a shipment of 10 which had come to UK about 2 years before. VERY uncommon!

Firearms fairly rare as a normal cop, but I bought guns a couple of times (usually rusty old shotguns)

I think actually as a normal cop I only ever found a gun twice.

aSiLENT1702 karma

What is your most interesting or disturbing case?

theurbanjedi2106 karma

Disturbing for me, probably anything dealing with paeodophilia. Once case involved making a call to a suspected child abuser, who had been identified online. The idea was that I would give him a quick call, for no other reason than to arrange potentially some sort of meeting in the future. I expected to be on the phone with him for 5 minutes, and for him to be ultra suspicious, and actually for the call not to yield anything other than a possible agreement to call again later. I was totally taken aback when the call ended up lasting around 45 minutes, with this guy describing, in rather sickening detail, the activities he wanted to engage in with my (fictional) children. In fact, I had to end the call myself, as I felt physically ill engaging in such conversation (although I expected that I should do so as part of my job). It was a conversation which I find disturbing to this day, made all the more potent by the fact that I had to display enthusiasm and engage in the chat with a certain amount of vigour, to maintain my cover. I had several more conversations of that ilk with the guy, and eventually met him in person. I was very nervous when meeting him - not because of a fear of impending violence or anything like that, but just because the urban cop myth states that a paedophile can always recognise another paedophile, and I was anxious that he would simply dismiss me in person for that reason. Evidently, this didn't happen and the meeting passed without a hitch and the guy was arrested and taken to court. All in all, a really quite disturbing episode which haunts me every now and then.

Reedit_girl1032 karma

At least you know that he'll never be able to act out what he told you. I'm glad you caught him.

theurbanjedi1250 karma

I think he recently committed suicide actually. He only removed 12 months in prison for the operation I was involved in and I think he was subsequently arrested for similar crimes.

Adz021044 karma

12 months seems a frighteningly short amount of time

theurbanjedi1358 karma

Yes it does.

brierrose628 karma

Iv read stories of undercover police having to partake in the use of class A drugs to get in with the criminals, and ending up with habits. How true is this and how deep does an officer have to go?

theurbanjedi941 karma

True in US and probably other countries

It may happen in the UK, but only under very extreme and justifiable circumstances, because any (admitted) use of drugs would drastically effect the credibility of ones evidence (not just during that occasion but the entire operation)

olikam566 karma

Where do you draw the line? What's something you won't do to keep your cover intact? What are you willing to do?

theurbanjedi1077 karma

There are hard and fast rules in the UK about what you can and cant do.

It would depend on the circumstances, but suffice to say, you learn, and are trained, to wheedle your way out of situations using some swift banter and chat.

You can't commit crime essentially, although there are certain circumstances where you can.

I wouldn't do anything which harmed anyone else to keep my cover - I would expect not to be in such a situation anyway. If I do my job right, then I shouldn't expect to have made such a disastrous choice of action where someone is asking me to do something awful.

On a personal level, I would do anything to save my own life, or that of someone I loved, so if it came down to, theoretically, someone saying 'Admit you're a cop or I kill your kids' then its a no-brainer.

There were many occasions where people would suspect you were a cop, and you just put on some bravado and get on with it. Although once such occasion I ended up barricaded in a pub surrounded by angry gentlemen who were in no doubt I was a cop. That operation ended there and then.

myomyhow422 karma

being right there on the streets, I' m curious as to what your opinion is towards the " war on drugs ".
do you think legalising (most) drugs will bring serious crime figures down?

theurbanjedi1359 karma

The war on drugs is a waste of time, effort and resources.

I spent many many years dealing with 'drug dealers', who, in the main, are poor people, driven by poverty or environment, to commit crime. One of the reasons I left the police was the constant criminalising of the poor.

I don't know whether legalising drugs per se will bring crime figures down, but what I do know is that prohibition does not work, there are still people making a lot of cash out of peoples misery, and people die so that lines of coke can be snorted across the land.

The old adage that when you arrest a street dealer, another rone replaces him in a second is so very true.

'The Wire' is real, people.

There is a great organisation called LEAP - Law Enforcement Against Prohibition which counters some great arguments for and against

iDeeDee416 karma

Do your friends and family know you're working undercover?

Working must be super stressful for you.Do you suffer psychologically during the who time?

theurbanjedi653 karma

My close friends did - certainly those in the police. My immediate family did (except my mum, although she does now)

It was stressful, and I ended up leaving the police. But a lot of that was down to me not managing my stress effectively, and the simple fact is, whilst stress affects people in different ways, I did not manage it effectively, and I am still tarnished by it now. I'm still getting over it to be honest, and it takes time.

Its weird because at the time, you have no idea of the effects it is having, and it's only in the past 2 years or so, I have been able to realise 'S**t, I didn't realise I acted this way or reacted to such things'

cogra23152 karma

Could they be charged with assaulting a police officer?

theurbanjedi207 karma

I suppose, if you drilled it down, perhaps yes they could. There are innumerable points to prove, and the offence of assaulting a police officer is notoriously difficult to prosecute believe it or not. I dont ever think it would happen though - undercover officers are volunteers and know what they are getting into, and are given in out in stress management and go through such a rigorous selection process that it would be foolhardy to try and claim some sort of emotional injury as a specific result of another's actions.

MrGooses379 karma

How did you deal with the emotional strain of undercover work while you were undercover? Did you have any ways of unwinding during an operation or did you leave that until a job was finished? And how have you dealt with it since? Has it affected you much in the years since you left?

Thank you so much for doing such a fascinating AMA, it's definitely one of the best I've seen.

theurbanjedi485 karma

Thank you for the comments.

You would usually just carry on until it was finished. I think I still deal with the fallout now.

I think I am affected in a subconscious level, in ways that I act and react to things. I am overly suspicious, and often paranoid, and I do little things like change my routes to work often, or arrive for meetings 15 minutes early to scope the place out (like meetings in public places, not in offices or anything!)

aranne232 karma

What I really feel that shines out of your responses is that you are a genuinely good person. You've been through stuff that is by definition traumatic, but you haven't emerged either a cynic or a self-aggrandizing victim.

May be a stupid question, but are you aware that you are a good person and happy to be one?

theurbanjedi286 karma

Seriously? No I am not. I am constantly reminded by my awesome other half that I am though, so maybe it will sink in!

delcanguro331 karma

What's your most satisfying arrest or good result on something you were working on? Also what areas of London were the main spots for organised criminal activity? Used to live there so I'm curious!

theurbanjedi738 karma

Satisfying arrest was Juan Carlos Guzman Betancourt (not an undercover job just when I was a detective) known as the worlds top conman.....

Best result operating undercover was any job where I bought a gun, or snared a child abuser.

London has no main hotspots for crime - there are traditional 'bad areas' - Beckon and Stratford for Lithuanian criminality, Islington and some part of South East London for old school London baddies, Tottenham, Hackney for Badass youth and Turkish gangs etc - but also places like Chelsea, Kensington etc house some of the biggest baddies of all (bankers, fixers, oligarchs etc)

delcanguro211 karma

Just read up on the conman... Sounds like a slippery fella!

theurbanjedi1195 karma

He is a genius, with balls of steel, and the charm of a smoothly oiled snake in a big vat of oil, selling oil to an oil baron soaked in oil, swimming in a pool of oil in an oil tanker.

-lll-------lll-141 karma

Tottenham, Hackney for Turkish gangs

Forgot to mention Green Lanes, had a shit load of family members locked up for heroin dealing

theurbanjedi193 karma

Yeh that's sort of what I was intimating: Tottenham Hackney border. Thats where I grew up in fact.

-lll-------lll-138 karma

Yeah I grew up in Tottenham too, major shithole, flat I lived in you'd get cigarettes stubbed out on you waiting for the lift to get to your floor

theurbanjedi389 karma

The first time I bought crack undercover was about 30 yards from the house I grew up in.

Iamessar286 karma

I'm an East Londoner myself. Grew up in Newham - saw Stratford change from the grimmy old place to the fancy new spot (but still riddled with crime under all of it)

What are your views about crime in East London? Do you feel it has increased/decreased, or just changed in its nature?

theurbanjedi347 karma

Crime is always there, and always will be. People will always want to make a quick buck under the counter, as it were.

I think it has just changed in nature - we are seeing a lot more cyber crime nowadays, and a lot less 'traditional' crime like armed robberies, street crime and mugging and such like. I worked on a robbery unit once in north east london and would regularly get 10-15 new cases a day of street robberies (this was the advent of the smartphone) I think you're a lot less likely to get robbed in the street like that now, but more likely to get targeted by a robber on Ebay or Gumtree who will arrange to meet you then snatch your cash - as well as more online based criminality.

eyesearskneesandtoes260 karma

You ever have to fight someone to be initiated ? how does an outsider get inside a gang ?

theurbanjedi460 karma

No I havent, thankfully, and such activities at the higher echelons of organised crime are fairly rare. I spent some time attempting to wheedle into various non-UK criminal fraternities, and the simple fact of the matter is, if they have the slightest doubt about you, they will keep you at arms length. I never heard of, or was involved in, the concept of fighting to be initiated into a gang. Its slightly more difficult and sophisticated that Hollywood would have you imagine, and a lot more dull and prolonged! I think the concept of 'bloodng in' in the UK would be really limited to lower level criminals, football hooligans and youth/street gangs as opposed to the higher level organised firearms and drug gangs who wouldn't want unneccessary law enforcement attention from such activity. That's not to say there wasn't an element of violence in these organisations, but it was very few and far between - probably the threat element was a bigger issue, i.e. the threat of violence and the reputation of such organisations.

Dependent upon the 'gang' it is almost impossible to infiltrate a long standing criminal organisation - they are generally very switched on, and whilst you may get accepted on the periphery, to actually become an insider is ridiculously difficult - this is why such infiltrations (Joe Piston being the most famous one) are celebrated and talked about to this day. In the UK there are strict laws and regulations about the activities which undercover officers can engage in, so being part of a gang and being asked, for example, to take part in a violent act, or commit a serious crime - that's not gonna happen.

cogra23135 karma

Were there agents or assets in those gangs already who helped you get in or who fed back info to your handlers?

theurbanjedi399 karma

I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of such assets.

IPlayRaunchyMusic36 karma

Do you think those regulations lead to a significant number of cases that prohibit the investigation and the eventual arrest of the more primary targets in these operations? There are so many movies out there that depict U.O.s as violent and as reckless as the criminals they investigate, but how often, really, do activities like that get asked of you? How do you find a solution that adheres to those regulations that don't also put you immediately at risk of blowing your cover and possibly risking your safety?

theurbanjedi92 karma

No I don't think so. They are there to preserve the integrity and credibility of the officer and the evidence. Every single undercover officer I know and have worked with has been an incredible professional, and far, far from the movie portrayal of maverick nutjobs. There are many UC officers who 'act' the part, but who maintain a very steadfast approach to their work, relying on their nous and training to get out of compromising situations.

It would be very rare to be asked to do something serious and it is down to the individual officer to justify anything they do when it is a fast moving situation.

If, for example, I had a loaded gun pointed at my head and was told to smoke crack, then hell, yes, gimme the pipe and the lighter man.

But that sort of scenario would be very rare, because you should be skilled enough to avoid getting in such a situation in the first place.

Harpsidoodle7 karma

American here, what are football hooligans? Gangs that rep their favorite teams?

theurbanjedi12 karma

Basically yes - they like having fights with rivals, and enjoy a bit of violence just for the hell of it.

Sniperfi4585245 karma

My brother has just recently joined the Met with Police Now (policing grad scheme).

My question is: what do you make of government plans to force all officers to have a degree and what effect do you think that will have on UK policing?

theurbanjedi542 karma

I am old school I am afraid, and one of the great things about the UK police is that there was no expectation of education - it was a true blue collar job in that respect - and I think that graduate entry or entry at senior officer level may have a detrimental effect on frontline policing.

Only from the point of view that the internal view of police officers is that everyone should do their 2 years on the streets, and not be given favourable treatment by virtue of their education or any other perceived asset.

Having said that, I also understand the benefits of education, and that there will no doubt be some awesome people who will make great cops. Forcing all cops to have degrees may be a disadvantage to recruiting potential cops from areas and/or backgrounds where a degree is anathema to their family, culture or environment and may put some people off.

I wish your bro the best of luck in any case, and tell him not to let the bastards get him down!

SnufkinMoominMy215 karma


theurbanjedi483 karma

The Wire probably depicts accurately police psyche and the general pointlessness of lots of policing activity and internal politics (yes its even applicable to the UK)

Serpico is awesome.

Fave police movie is Polisse (a French movie) which is under statedly amazing.

SnufkinMoominMy77 karma


theurbanjedi139 karma

You too thanks!

UK policing maybe The Sweeney?

The Bill was very good in many respects.

We need a UK equivalent of The Wire

Sam Bain's Babylon was very good as well, actually - very reflective of the bulls**t prevalent at the upper echelons!

Ontrus162 karma

How often does it happen that the police gets infiltrated itself?

theurbanjedi293 karma

I don't know, but its not a great prospect, having to spend the first two years dealing with the worst jobs and making tea for a bitter, sour face old curmudgeon of a sergeant, for 19k a year.

There are more likely (and indeed certainly are) officers who have been recruited after joining, to provide info to criminal gangs.

This is happily very rare though, and such activity will often be noticed before it has a huge effect.

CouchAlchemist138 karma

How does being undercover affect your personal life as you won't be able to describe to them what you do and when you do it? I cannot think how strong you have to be to deal a dual life just for the betterment of society and not your personal life...

theurbanjedi192 karma

Honestly? A bit trite but it fucks you up. Not just not being able to tell them about stuff, but just the concept that you are striving to put away bad people, and it means that you inevitably sacrifice part of your life (at the time just temporarily, but as it turn out, it effects you forever) And yes, you have to be strong in many respects, even turning your nose up at moral questions - I wasn't strong enough, hence my departure from the police

eyesearskneesandtoes120 karma

What is your favourite lunch food ?

What sort of meal gets you excited in anticipation ?

theurbanjedi162 karma

Definitely a combo of bread, cheese and pickle...I cant quite remember what its called.......

swiftkilla77143 karma


theurbanjedi132 karma


Iamessar61 karma

Ha, I see what you did there. Because of your name right...?

Either way, great AMA. You're actually answering questions fully. Appreciate your effort.

theurbanjedi71 karma

Yep you got it! Thanks for the feedback! I'm trying to answer as best I can, so hopefully its of some interest!!

Slayeraustin117 karma

When undercover did you ever partake in substances? Kind of a "do a line with me to proove you're legit" kind of thing? Also while undercover did you live at home and keep a regular life during the times, what would you say if things like occupation, hobbies, usuall small talk bullshit would come up? If i met you in a pub while undercover would your behavior and mannerisms be the same as if i met you in a pub today, or did you have to make personallity changes while working, and if so have any of those changes stuck with you today?

theurbanjedi182 karma

If I didnt know you, then I may effect some mannerisms I might not usually have, just whilst I scoped you out.

My actions and demeanour whilst undercover is not anything like the real me, I have to say. Closest I get is sometimes when I get angry about something, I have this weird switch which flicks into cockney gangster mode........but it only lasts for a second, and I realise I am acting like a buffoon.

I never did any gear whilst undercover, and had plenty of reasons not to, none of which were ever questioned by the baddies.

Yes, I would live at home (my real home) when doing undercover work, but cops generally keep close counsel, and that means often associating only with other cops, so it was easy to be in social scenarios

quaffwine95 karma

Hi Christian,

I work for a Counter-Extremism group in the U.K. Any thoughts on the criminalisation of extremism and radical thought.

Have you had any experience with the Governments Counter Violent Extremism programme Prevent?

Thanks for doing such a smashing AMA

theurbanjedi122 karma

No direct experience of PREVENT but have colleagues who have.

I understand the criminalisation of extremism and radical thought from a legislative point of view, but we have to be careful not to get too Orwellian.

The process of radicalisation I understand as being similar to gang recruitment or cult recruitment. Therefore, we should be careful about how those 'victims' of radicalisation are dealt with - its difficult to generalise because each case is different and involves different factors, and to criminalise everyone is counter-intuitive.

Having said that, the potential danger to other citizens cannot be overlooked, and its a difficult topic to have any succinct or direct answers about.

Added to that, CT was not my forte at all, although I have since had some experience of it in an more global setting, but unrelated to radicalisation.

eyalos5592 karma

how do police t.v shows and movies compare to reality?

theurbanjedi172 karma

Very little in my experience.

Whether its bog standard policing or doing the 'sexier' stuff, the work is 95 per cent bureaucracy, boredom and dullness, with 5 per cent sheer excitement and adrenalin.

I think I miss the 5 per cent, and I think its that 5 per cent which keeps people doing the job.

Its almost cliched thing to say, but obviously if TV/movies were an accurate reflection, then there would be no cop shows committed to film, ever.

Netko_35 karma

What's your opinion on Hot Fuzz?

theurbanjedi88 karma

British equivalent of NYPD Blue, surely?

katgotthecream90 karma

Did you often have to wear prosthetics and wigs to change your look?

theurbanjedi200 karma

No I am blessed with a fine head of hair which is easily manipulated into a multitude of fashionable styles

triface189 karma

Any unexpected benefits of being good at lying?

theurbanjedi214 karma

None, in fact quite the contrary - not many people trust you!

azerty133283 karma

Do you guys carry hidden equipment? Such as a button that alerts Police that you're in trouble, and allows tracking of you? Stuff like that?

theurbanjedi236 karma

Its fairy well known, and indeed certainly in this day and age, that officers would need technical evidence to corroborate their activities. The nature of such devices or equipment is necessarily not bandied about, but there are always things in place to mitigate against any potential risks.

Burow76 karma

Hello, thanks for doing this AmA , I have the following question :

If, while undercover, someone from the gang orders you to kill someone, what do you do? What happens if there is no way around it ?

theurbanjedi164 karma

Well the easiest way round it is to say no.

I cant see a situation where you couldn't get out of it, unless you yourself are at the end of a loaded gun. And if you are in that situation, then you have done something erroneous somewhere along the line. All the stuff you do is meticulously monitored and analysed. Plans are in place for every conceivable opportunity or event. If you were ever to be in a such a situation, there would be a plan to get you out, and if necessary, compromise the operation.

Swarfega71 karma

Not asking how much but is the salary good?

theurbanjedi138 karma

The salary is dependent upon your length of service and rank, and is no different to the salary of a regular cop.

The salary scales for the Met Police are published in their website. When I left in 2011, I was paid around £36k a year, which was the top rate of pay for a constable with over 8 years service (maximum pay level at that time)

GoaDragon56 karma

How did you get involved in undercover work? Were you specifically selected or were they asking for volunteers? And how are you trained for UC work? Excellent AMA!

theurbanjedi142 karma

Voluntary, and you go through a rigorous selection process - like several interviews, psychometric testing, and a selection course where you get about 3 hours sleep a night.

The training is classified, and I would get my balls sliced off if I divulged any of it thats not already in my book.

cockandballtorture54 karma

Are you still in any sort of danger from your undercover work? I mean now you are going public by writing a book and doing this AMA with your picture as proof. I could imagine guys you've put away (or their henchmen) being set on revenge?

theurbanjedi128 karma

Not really. I wrote the book nearly 5 years ago . I'm only doing the AMA because I only recently got introduced to Reddit and was heartened by the community herem and thought it would be an interesting AMA. Plus its Sunday and I wanted something to do!

I do certain things in my daily life to make me fee a bit more secure and safe, but danger is overrated

Extensionlead51 karma

Has anyone ever seen under your cover? What happened?

theurbanjedi104 karma

Very few have. And what happened is strictly classified.

Jeff-Stelling48 karma

Saw that 50m of drugs washed up the other day, if say I was to find it how easy would it be to get rid for a profit?

Take it most dealers know each other so would be found of pretty quick.

If you found that amount and were flat broke what would you do?

Thanks for teh AMA, will look into the book

theurbanjedi228 karma

If I were flat broke, I would call the police and tell them about the 48 million pounds worth of drugs washed up on the beach.

wewlad61646 karma

Do you believe you made a difference and that all the trouble you went through was worth it?

theurbanjedi139 karma

I made a difference to people individually, yes. Across 16 years service, I know that I positively effected some peoples lives for the better.

But if you are asking do I think I made a difference in the grand scheme of things, in the criminal world, then no, not really. And was it worth it? Well, it was for those individual people, yes. And it was for me, as a rewarding and enriching learning experience.

thhhro40 karma

What is the best way to get in with criminals without initiating a buy?

theurbanjedi86 karma

Donuts usually

theurbanjedi73 karma

Actually, it takes a very long time - the aim is usually to engage in a supply of something, so just becoming their 'friend' can take months or years.

brierrose12 karma

I watched an episode of the bill recently and an undercover cop on there was using drugs to get in with the gang, after the operation ended the police. Force put her in rehab and such like, but she still ended up using again. I know it's only a show but I did wonder how true to life that would be in the Uk? Thanks for the response, Twas much appreciated. And without sounding to American thanks for for all you have done in keeping us safe. 😀😀

theurbanjedi22 karma

It was my pleasure to serve, no thanks neccessary!

In the UK, extremely unlikely, unless it was a decision made by the officer for some reason, or they had an existing substance abuse problem. The selection process to become an undercover officer lasts years, and part of this process is trying to assess whether the officer has any vulnerabilities which could end up compromising them.

ALso with the advent of random drug testing, officers with substance abuse issues are able to access help. Although its unlikely that they would.

MonsterPooper10 karma

As an undercover policeman, did you ever get drafted into normal work, like the London riots?

Do you have to spend lots of time away from your family, to keep them from danger?

Do you believe that the war on drugs is good?

theurbanjedi33 karma

Yes, I worked undercover (usually) in addition to being a normal cop. I left the police just before the 2011 riots and I was a detective so I would not have been deployed into the riots anyway. However, I did work during the anti-capitalist riots in 1999 and 2000 in central London.

I never spent time away from my family to keep them from danger - just as a necessity to work. I did once have a price on my head and had some state of the art alarm equipment installed at my home, but that was the only time there was any juxtaposition between work and family life.

And no, I don't agree that the war on drugs is good. Its misinformed and wastes time and resources. In addition, it is ineffective and responsible directly for the increasing militarisation of the police (esp in the US)

Its a massive subject to discuss, but from the front line perspective, its a losing battle!

BalloonBollicks8 karma

Where I live the 'local heroes' are more of a sad lot than dangerous, from what I've heard at the pub and making my own conclusions it seems like they are acting out their favourite scenes from the various gangster flicks they've seen with Scarface being an apparent favourite.

Do you find this a lot?

theurbanjedi15 karma

Yes. Absolutely. And its common amongst cops too - it was a bot of a joke that lots of undercover cops based their criminal personae solely on characters from The Firm, or The Business, or some other Brit gangster flick.And baddies are no different, and they are often very sad individuals. I remember saying to one guy, 'If you've got everything sewn up round here, and youre the big man, why you still living in such a shithole?' Some of them reminded me of Herbalife idiots, shouting about what they earnt and how much gear they dealt with, and yet they lived in a shitty flat, and were constantly asking for a loan to buy beer. Typical,. And these were some of the 'upper echelon' of criminals we were supposed to be targeting!

valleyshrew7 karma

How do you feel about leaks of classified government info? Do you approve of what Snowden did for example, which forced the US to pull many of their undercover agents out of various countries?

theurbanjedi29 karma

I don't approve of leaking stuff which puts peoples lives at risk. I do approve of leaking stuff which is in the public interest, and which is against the law. So I think the revelation that there was minesweeping of data from individuals and members of the public who had nothing to do with crime or national security was a good thing to expose. I don;t agree with things like revealing names and identities f agents, or anything which would compromise someones safety. But each issue has to be considered on merit, and I think that the use of covert techniques is essential, with appropriate oversight, which should be independent, and with the tacit consent of the people. I don't know anything about the US pulling agents out of various countries, but every agency will have plans in place for such a compromise, which would involve being able to maintain those operations in some way shape or form should agents have to be removed.

Sendmetohogwarts5 karma

What is the general opinion of your average officer with regards to cannabis and enforcing it?

I read an article stating some forces will be putting it on the backburner :)

theurbanjedi40 karma

Well, one of the advantages that I had back in the day was the use of discretion. I never arrested anyone for cannabis possession (and never would if given the opportunity again) unless it was a means to an end (i.e to arrest a prolific known criminal who had cannabis on him but nothing else) and I would regularly 'dispose' of cannabis down a drain.

Its a waste of resources, and unless I ever see anything to show me that cannabis is a 'gateway' drug, or that anyone who uses cannabis regularly is some sort of badass criminal, my view will never change.

You'll be hard pressed to find a decent cop who will pursue a cannabis arrest - its a useful tool to do other stuff (like if your car stinks of weed, its gonna get searched) but aside from that, its a non starter - I'd rather spend time finding out who broke into Mrs Miggins house and shat on the floor, or making sure that there are no gangsters causing grief for the local residents than wasting my time processing some 16 year old for a zoot.

SigerianScammer4 karma

This is a fascinating AMA, so thank you so much for doing it.

When you arrest a drug dealer, so you go through their phones to "catch" his customers?

Also, I'd be curious to know what the ethnic/racial breakdown of criminal activity that you have witnessed is? (Who does what the most?)

Thanks again :)

theurbanjedi13 karma

We wouldn't bother catching customers. We would rather catch his suppliers. So yes, there is an opportunity to do that.

There is no ethnic breakdown. Statistics are statistics. I dealt with bad people who did bad things, good people who did bad things and good people who did good things. Some were white, some balck, some Asian etc. I learnt very early on that there is no colour in crime, its just nasty evil people, or stupid people, or people who had fucked up. They were the only categories I cared for.

TheDarkPal3 karma

Do you keep your gun?


theurbanjedi4 karma

Cops in UK are proudly unarmed.

SnufkinMoominMy2 karma

What are you favourite memories of being in the police? As this is an AMA, I have to ask, do you have a favourite dinosaur?

theurbanjedi2 karma

Anklyosaurus because they remind me of pangolins.

My fave memory is patrolling Soho in plainclothes with my best chum Adrian.

carlinha12891 karma


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Ronald-Fletcher-ESQ1 karma

I'd delete that photo if I were you. You don't want your passport details out in the public

theurbanjedi1 karma

Whoops thanks

Ronald-Fletcher-ESQ2 karma

No worries, I'm quite surprised an ex police officer would have done that!

theurbanjedi1 karma

I am getting very old, and am a Reddit noob, and was unaware that the image was posted publicly. I'm actually uber embarrassed by it!

theurbanjedi1 karma

Hi What do you need from me please?

[deleted]1 karma


theurbanjedi1 karma

I have sent some stuff through which should help