A Case for Scotland Yard

Photograph for TIME by Chris Steele-Perkins — Magnum Photos

LEG WORK: Local knowledge helps PC Ward and Sergeant Port find drugs in a shoe

The police are stumped until the hero, a maverick cop too busy with original thoughts to iron his clothes, tricks the perpetrator into a tearful confession. As the credits on the TV cop drama roll, three real-life constables, busy devouring the detective series along with their cheese-and-pickle sandwiches in the station canteen, discuss the denouement. Real policing isn't like that, they say. It's messier — and more dramatic. Their boss, Hackney Borough Commander Steve Dann, agrees. That's why he "can't bear to watch police shows," he says. "They drive me mad."

Sorting reality from myth may be particularly...

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