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Criminal Record, Apple TV+ review - law and disorder in Hackney | reviews, news & interviews

Criminal Record, Apple TV+ review - law and disorder in Hackney

Criminal Record, Apple TV+ review - law and disorder in Hackney

Cush Jumbo and Peter Capaldi explore the dark side of policing

Thin blue line: Cush Jumbo as DS June Lenker

It’s not easy to find a new way to package a drama about that perennially popular topic, the dark side of policing, but Criminal Record at least gets its ducks in a row with some strong writing by Paul Rutman and a strength-in-depth cast.

Peter Capaldi (pictured below) is in chilling form as the Hackney-based DCI Daniel Hegarty, a veteran detective who evidently knows where a lot of bodies are buried. When he starts getting inquiries about a decade-old murder case from the comparatively junior DS June Lenker (Cush Jumbo), it looks like a mild irritation he can merely brush off.

Naturally that isn’t quite how it works out, since while Lenker might look like a rookie, she has all the right investigator’s instincts and isn’t going to let herself be fobbed off. It all begins with a phone call to the police helpline from a terrified woman, convinced that her life’s in danger from her violent boyfriend. She also claims, in between hysterical sobbing, that not only did this guy kill his previous girlfriend Adelaide Burrows, but a man called Errol Mathis was wrongly convicted of the murder and is now serving a 24-year prison sentence.

The upshot of all this is going to develop into a tug of war, or battle of wits, between Lenker and Hegarty, since the Burrows killing was one of Hegarty’s cases. Lenker immediately wants to start asking him questions about it, but her boss, DCI Roy Chambers (Ian Bonar), is a cautious box-ticker for whom policing seems to resemble council tax collection or adult social care, except with a uniform. He advises her to take the unthreatening route of sending Hegarty an email rather than speaking directly to him. It’s evidently a breach of professional etiquette to dare to approach such a senior officer in person.

In the event, Lenker sends the email but goes to talk to Hegarty anyway. He adopts a patronising and dismissive tone. The call was probably a prank, he suggests. Lenker’s reward for her impudence is the unexpected arrival of professional standards officers, who have suddenly picked her for a “random” vetting procedure.

If the plotting isn’t especially innovative, Criminal Record scores in the way it presents a view of policing which has the plausibly grimy texture of reality, set among suitably grey and downbeat east London locations. Hierarchies are rigid, respect has to be earned and once it has been you’d better make sure you don’t question it.

You’re not going to get far in the Met unless you understand where the power lies and how to manipulate it, and your chances of promotion appear to be greatly enhanced if you’re male. And preferably white. We get to hear ominous rumours about Hegarty’s tight little crew known as “The 62’s”. One of them, DS Kim Cardwell, is played by Shaun Dooley (pictured above), a reliable barometer of sleaze and unsavoury behaviour.

Having said all that, DS Lenker is sometimes her own worst enemy. For instance, not once but twice she charges alone into life-threatening situations without backup, surely a heinous breach of operational guidelines. She’s also not averse to sharing restricted police documents with people she thinks might help her. She’s living dangerously.

You’re not going to get far unless you understand where the power lies and how to manipulate it


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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