The Silent Why

Loss of life through murder: Steve Keogh

May 24, 2022 Chris Sandys, Claire Sandys, Steven Keogh Episode 33
The Silent Why
Loss of life through murder: Steve Keogh
Show Notes Transcript

#033. How do murder detectives cope with facing loss every day in the form of murder? In this episode we chat to Steve Keogh, a former Scotland Yard murder detective. 

This is The Silent Why, a podcast on a mission to open up conversations around loss and grief and to see if hope can be found in 101 different types of loss.

Steve retired from London's Metropolitan Police in 2021 and since then he's earned a following for his written work and YouTube live videos about his time solving murders.

This episode looks at what it’s like working with loss through murder on a daily basis, as well as the loss of a personal life to a vocation like working as a police officer and detective.

Loss #24 of 101 - Loss of life through murder

We had lots of questions for Steve around such a fascinating area of work and wanted to know if it’s anything like the exciting chase for a murderer that you see on the TV. He told us about what it’s like being the first on the scene for the 7/7 London Bombings, dealing with the families of victims, moments in court after long chases for a conviction. 

For more about Steve visit his website: https://murderacademy.com/ 

Or his social media channels:
https://www.youtube.com/c/MurderAcademy
https://www.facebook.com/MrStevenKeogh
https://www.instagram.com/murderacademy/ 

Support the show

Follow us on social media:
Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | YouTube

Podcast transcripts available at: thesilentwhy.buzzsprout.com

For our weekly blog, the hosts childless story, the official 101 losses list, and how to contact us and support our work visit; thesilentwhy.com

If you don't know what a Herman is: thesilentwhy.com/herman

For tips on how to help and talk to people who are grieving visit: https://www.thesilentwhy.com/post/howtotalktothegrieving

Steve:

Hi, my name is Steve Keogh. I'm a former police officer, I spent about 12 years of my career investigating murder. Today I'm going to talk about the loss through murder and how that can impact on more people than you'd imagine.

Claire:

Welcome to The Silent Why, a podcast with a bold mission to find 101 different types of loss, and to hear from those who have experienced them to see if it's possible to find hope, and maybe even joy in all kinds of loss. I'm Claire.

Chris:

I'm Chris, and in this episode, we're chatting to Steve Keogh, who is a retired homicide detective inspector with the Metropolitan Police in London.

Steve:

I've heard it described before as 99% boredom, 1% sheer terror, and is kinda like that. Mostly very mundane, mixed in with some hairy moments, I'd say.

Claire:

Steve worked in the police for three decades in the areas of murder, serious crime, anti terrorist and gang... stuff (I think that's a technical word). And Steve received a commendation for his work after the London 7/7 terrorist bombings.

Steve:

I don't think this will happen, but somewhere looking near my brain is all this grief and all this... everything that I've seen, and I hope one day it doesn't come out, I don't think it will, but in the back of my mind, it's like, well, it could.

Chris:

He retired last year and is now pursuing life as an author, a speaker and a YouTuber. And he joined us to chat about life in a job that constantly deals with loss, not just loss of life through crime and murder, but also loss of things and experiences in your personal life that the job demands.

Steve:

We do get a good pension from the police, but I think that's a trade off for all the things I have lost in my life, where I have got a broken marriage behind me and my kids didn't see me. I was on the Anti Terrorist branch, and we were doing some surveillance work, and I did 60 nights on the trot, so I didn't see my kids for I think it was something like best part of two months, you can't get that back.

Claire:

This is a unique insight into the heart of a murder detective and how he deals with processing loss in his own world, as well as the hundreds of others he met whose lives had been ruined by crime.

Chris:

And the sneak teased for the next episode, we'll be continuing this theme as Claire meets a Police Chaplain in America who gives his time voluntarily to support police officers through their traumatic experiences on the job. But back to Steve and why he swapped one sort of sentence for another.

Steve:

Retired in November, having done 30 years with the Metropolitan Police. I'm embracing retirement at the moment, and doing a lot less than I thought I was going to. So basically, I wrote a book. And a company came along and bought the rights to the book and then said, Would you write another one, which I never intended to do? But that's what I'm doing at the moment. And then I'm doing a lot of research. So it's kind of similar to police work in that I'm trying to find information. But yeah, I'm quite enjoying it if it suits my life, actually, because I've got two young children. So I can I can fit it in around them. It's good.

Claire:

That feels like a huge difference. To me. It sounds quite similar, having they've done the police and then becoming an officer, what are the similarities and differences?

Steve:

The research so I'm, I'm trying, I've got a goal, I know what I want to achieve. And I'm looking for information to fulfil that. And that's the same as when you're investigating murder. You have your goal, i.e. you're looking to solve a murder and convict someone, and you're looking for information to piece together to achieve that. And I want to write a book and I know what I want the book to look like. So I'm at the moment I'm in the research and gathering information stage, so I kind of relate it similar to that.

Claire:

So you had, was it 30 years, for the Metropolitan Police?

Steve:

I did. Yeah. 30 years. I don't feel old enough to be able to say that.

Chris:

You don't look it!

Steve:

No comments or what I look like please. But yeah, and it flew by, it really did. It was it was a long time. And I really enjoyed it. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Claire:

So why don't you tell us a little bit about what you would do, what did the day to day look like, when you were working with... is it homicide or murder?

Steve:

It fluctuates. I worked in the homicide unit on a murder team. You could call it what you like really. Yeah, so I did that for about the last 12 years. In my 30 years, I spent half and half, just over half as I could call it a Scotland Yard detective, so working centrally, you know, investigated terrorism and murder. So I did about three and a half years investigating terrorism and just over 12 years investigating murder. So day to day is a difficult one, because every, bit of a cliche, but every day is different in the police. But essentially, I was always working as part of a team. And that's what it is when you investigate major crime. I know on the television, you've got the one detective running around and solving it but it's not really like that in real life. It's a team effort. So we have about probably about 20 detectives I always worked with and it was good. We would probably have about between, depending on how busy a year was about six and ten new murders each year. And we will carry on the ones that you didn't investigate. So there was always plenty of work to be getting on with.

Chris:

TV and film has explored and glamorised and just lucked into every angle pretty much going, of characters from murder squads and across the eras, modern, olden days, has there been anything that we may have seen on TV or the big screen that actually felt quite close to daily life as a detective?

Steve:

If I'm honest, no. And the reason being is it wouldn't make a good film and it wouldn't make a television. Solving a murderer is about being methodical and getting everything, right. Crossing the t's dotting the i's, that type of thing. It's all about, it's all about preparing yourself for court, and making sure that everything you do is watertight. And that's not fun. It's actually like that in the police in general, I think I think that I've heard it described before as 99% boredom, 1% sheer terror, and is kind of like that. I mean, it's mostly very mundane, mixed in with some hairy moments, I'd say.

Claire:

You're not really selling it.

Steve:

No. [laughs]

Claire:

You said you loved it. So what were the parts of it that that you really enjoyed?

Steve:

So it for me, the first time I was at court for a murder trial, and what you realise is when you when you sat when you go to court, you understand why you've had to do everything in the right way. Because murders are defended by the best best lawyers in the country. And if you don't do that, if you don't get things right, they will, they will find out, they will tear it apart, and you'll end up losing a case. And there's no point in getting to court, if you haven't done things right, and then lose it there. And when you get there, you realise, wow, I'm glad I did that. Or next time, I wish I'd done that. But at the end of that when you're sat there, Chris, I don't know if you've if you've done this as through your line of work, but when you're in court, and the jury go out, and you've been through weeks of hell really was the case you've you've had you've held it together in most cases, because the people are trying trying to take trying to rip your case apart. They're trying they're trying to get the case thrown out, etc. So you get there, you get to the end and you sat there waiting for the jury. And you've probably been there for days waiting for them to go off and do their deliberations. And when they come back. That feeling is indescribable. You sit there the tension within the courtroom is is just amazing. It's it's something I've never ever got used to, and I never I was never blase about and even to the point where whoever's in the court, but the judges have been doing it for the whole work in life, the barristers, the court stuff, everybody feels that tension. And when the jury come back, and they come back with that guilty verdict, it's indescribable. It's the best feeling I've ever had in the police. And as soon as I had that first court case, I knew that this is this is it, I can never do anything else that's going to replicate that. And that was a really important time for the families of the victims as well. And so you've been through the whole of the investigation with them. And you kind of share in their grief, you can never, you can never fully understand what what they're going through, because it's not you that's lost someone, but you sit there and you're sharing their grief for months and months, the first people always looked at what would be the family and to see how they would react, then you can just see the relief on their faces. And then we'd go outside court and more times than I can even remember you would end up getting a hug from them. And they would just be so thankful for everything you've done for them. And they would always just there was a similar theme, it was always they feel that they can kind of move on now, because you've given them that justice, you've you've allowed them to then move on with the grief and process haven't got to worry about the court case, they haven't got to think about that they can move on with a grieving. And when you have that, honestly, the first time I just thought this, this is me. I can't I can't imagine doing anything else. And so when you are doing those investigations, and you're going through the gritty work and the mundane work, and you're doing the long hours and you're not seeing your family and and it is hard and you personally, you know why you're doing it and it's for that that moment in court.

Chris:

Is there a time during the whole process, whether it's the very start like the first visit to the scene of a crime, the investigation itself where you're gathering interviews and statements and suspects, and then the final chapter, which is the court case, going through all the detail again, which of those maybe sections are the ones that have the potential to impact you personally the most?

Steve:

So, for me It's, it's all the way through. And I break it into two different parts that I don't think everybody well, there's one that everybody comes to mind. So when you're dealing with murders, and you go to the crime scene, and you're dealing with a dead body, and it can be quite a gruesome scene, that can be hard, then you go into the post mortem. So you're dealing directly with death, you're dealing with what you can see. But the one I probably found the hardest to deal with, because you kind of you build up a resilience to that, because when you first joined the police very early on, certainly when I joined, new police officers, they were all sent to the, we call them sudden deaths of people, people die, not in hospital, suddenly, a police officer has to attend to make sure that it's not suspicious in any way. And as a new police officer, you get sent to that. So very quickly, I joined when I was 20. So I didn't think at the time, but looking back, I was barely about being a child, I was quite naive to the world. And but very, very quickly, I got used to death, and it is something you can get used to, and I did and dead bodies never bothered me. But the grief of the family was something that I found the hardest to deal with. And that carried on all the way through the investigation to the trial. And I think that's something and certainly, so in the police, we have people, Family Liaison Officers, specially trained officers that would be sort of assigned to the family embedded with a family, whoever you want to describe it, and they would work closely with them. And it's a two way thing. They're trying to get information from the family. And they help the family through through the process. And it's a really hard job to do. And so I've never done that. But But I sort of dip in and out. And dealing with the family's grief is probably the hardest because I'm a bit of a control freak. So when when I'm when I'm dealing with my own feelings, I can fine, I can deal with that. But when I'm dealing with somebody else's, and you want to put it right, you want to fix it, I want to put it right. And the only way I can really try and help them is by doing that to get the conviction at court and do that. But all the way through, it's really hard when you turn up, and you're having to walk through the process with them. And you're there when it's really raw, I always found that quite hard and something I never never ever got used to. And I'm glad I didn't, because I think if I if I was dealing with people that are just lost someone through murder, and it wasn't affecting me in any way, I think I mean, I look back at my career, and I look back at some of the things that dealt with, sometimes I used to think of a cut off bit of my my humanity. But when I was dealing with a family as I knew I still had that, and that was comforting in a way. Because if I could be in a room with someone who's in that war, pain, whether just had their son, daughter, husband murdered or something and not be affected by it, then I'd be worried. And I think I'd probably be in the wrong job.

Claire:

What about like the family on the other side of the case? So you've got the victim's family, obviously been massively affected by the grief and losing somebody. But then you've got obviously the people on the other side of the case who may be linked to the person who's committed the crime. Did you ever find that was hard because you they haven't committed the crime, but they know someone who has. So I'm guessing not a lot of sympathy goes in that direction, usually?

Steve:

it doesn't. And it is is huge. So I definitely think that's something that people don't think about, because they're, they're almost other innocent parties with within a murder. So for instance, if if a, somebody's son has committed a murder, through no fault of their own, they then have probably lost their son. Because if you commit a murder, the sentencing within this country, you're looking at a minimum of 18, possibly up to 20's into 30 years in prison before they even considered parole. So you have lost you've lost your son, essentially, you might be able to go see them in prison, but it's not the same thing is it? It's not always the case, because sometimes the families, we don't always have any interaction with them. Because we don't need to. But when when you do that, I quite often my heart went out to them because through no fault of their own, they didn't. They didn't make their son go off and do whatever he did. But they've lost them essentially an error just another person within within the whole scenario that will feel loss.

Chris:

When was it that you realised or thought that actually I'd quite like to specialise in this area of murder?

Steve:

It's quite late actually. So just briefly through my career, so I spent six years in uniform in the South London police station in Greenwich. Then I decided I wanted to become a detective and the reason being is I enjoyed chasing the criminal. I enjoyed finding somebody that's committed a crime and putting them in prison. It was what what what really motivated me and to do that properly you need to be a detective. So that's why I chose to be a detective and I went down that route. It was around 2002 I was looking at the job adverts that used to come out, these come out every Friday, and it was an advert for anti terrorist branch, I didn't really know an awful lot about what they did, but it sounded exciting. So I put an application for that in and I got that. And it was at the time, it was much smaller it was, had been set up for Irish terrorism as before the days of Islamic terrorism, it was just creeping in. So it was just after 9/11. And I did that for a few years. And, and actually, when it comes to the culmination of everything that I've done before, that was the biggest test for me. So I left in October 2005. So I was there for 7/7 the London bombings. And we were on call. And we my colleague and I were the first from it was called SO13. At the time in service branch, we were the first ones to arrive at Edgware Road, which was one of the undergrounds so we had three underground bombings, and one bus. And we were the first ones to arrive there, and we didn't leave for two weeks, we basically that was it, we stayed and we we were responsible for the crime scene. So first off what that meant was getting all the dead bodies off of off of the tracks off from the from the cars themselves. And then treat treating the whole of the tracking and the car as a crime scene, which meant a fingertip search, and just getting everything out, so you can imagine what that entailed from from a bomb on a packed train at rush hour. That was when I first actually questioned how the police has impacted me. And the reason being is because at the end of it, my friends and family were asking me 'are you okay? You you must have been through something horrible. You are right?' And I was but not just I was okay, I was just absolutely fine with it. There was no part of me that felt affected. And then I started to think 'Well, surely I should be', if I've just done what I've done, and everybody's inquiring 'are you alright?' and I am completely alright, I started to think 'is there something that is I've lost through being in the police, that's dehumanised me?' And it did start to worry me. And it really made me kind of reflect on what I'd become as a person and how I dealt with things in it. But within a short time I realised it was like, no, this is this is how I have to be in order to do the job that I've been asked to do. And if I, if I couldn't do that, then I wouldn't be able to do the job. And I wouldn't. For me what I was doing, I was again, I was doing it for those families, I was getting justice for the families, actually the one time at the same where things did sort of become a little bit more difficult. It was on a Sunday, and they said to us, right 'Stop, stop what you're doing. Come out of the underground because of the families of the victims that died Edgware Road want to come down and lay some flowers and see the scene etc'. And so we were stood back and we saw them come. And that made it a little bit more real actually. Because when you when you're dealing with dead bodies, and I don't want to sound callous when I say this because it's something that you have to do, you're not dealing with a person you're not you kind of you can remove the person from the from the body you're dealing with. But when we saw the families that have become a bit more real then, because they were actually they were people, and they were loved ones they were they were sons, daughters. And these are the people that lost them. That was that was the one time I think during I found it hardest, but then when they went, you sort of switch back on again and you carry on doing your job. But what I've, when I was when I was reflecting what I realised is is how I deal with things is just by by just locking things away just by by switching off from from that and not thinking about it, which is is a coping mechanism for how you how you deal with that. But it can come back and bite you. Because so so after that I got promoted. So I was a Detective Constable there, got promoted to a detective sergeant and I went back to a we call it 'Borough', so local police station. And did a few years there. And then it was like what do I want to do in my career? And that's when I thought about murder. And I hadn't done it. I wanted to try it. And so that was pretty late on in my career. So I joined 2008. So I'd had 17 years in the police and I never left, it was the best, best thing I ever did. I loved it.

Claire:

You said that you get used to some of these things, and you have your coping strategies that you put in place. And I think over the years you sort of hear people in certain jobs talking about that I've heard like a brain surgeon on TV saying the same thing I can't see it as a person I have to see it as a brain, I can't think about this as a mother with kids. It has to be a brain I need to work on, because that's how I do my job. And we've also heard like the police have a kind of a unique sense of humour. It can be quite dark and there's ways of coping with stuff in that way.

Steve:

No but that is 100% true. So if what, I would have been mortified, we would have been mortified if the families that had come down to the scene, were actually watching us carry out our work. And none of none of what we ever said or did was out of disrespect, but there has to be a sort of, again, it's another coping mechanism, that might be a bit of a joke you have, and it's not, you're not joking at the situation or making light of it or anything like that, it's a way of you're getting through what is what was a difficult situation.

Claire:

So you have all these different coping strategies? Did you ever come across anyone that you worked with who who just couldn't cope who couldn't put these coping strategies in place and just couldn't handle the dead bodies, or the kind of the side of humanity that you get to see or anything like that?

Steve:

Yeah, from that scene, actually. So the Metropolitan Police at the time, I think were pretty poor when it came to looking after the staff and the mental health, mental health is a, it almost used to be a bit of a taboo. I joined '91. So a lot of people I was in the police with from the 60's, 70's. And it was kind of a macho attitude, stiff upper lip, whatever you want to call it, and you just get on with it. You're fine, just man up. So that was kind of, so the very first time that counselling was ever mentioned was as a result of 7/7. And what they did was they put us in a room 20-30 blokes wherever it was. Does anybody want counselling? [laughs] What are we going to say? So we didn't, and I don't know if anybody actually did take it up. But us that were there, we didn't. And I know for a fact at least two people that I know personally started to really suffer with their mental health as a result, directly result, of what they did on 7/7. And I think we were poorly looked after. I was fine. But it was more luck than judgement, and others weren't. And some some ended up going out of the police, and that has changed now. So I left last year to 2021. And one of the last investigations I dealt with was the murder of a police officer. Matt Ratana was shot in a police station, someone smuggled a gun in and killed him. He was the custody sergeant. It was my team that dealt with it. And the contrast that I saw with the help that was offered was stark. It was, it wasn't just once or twice we were offered it we were offered it for emails, through people visiting us; Do you want counselling? Do you feel like you need to speak to somebody? No, I'm fine. Come back again, I was probably asked about four times and in a way that if I wanted it, I could quite easily have. So that's that was nice to see that the the states have recognised that the officers mental health is an important thing to be looking after.

Chris:

Do you have as an overview on your time as a detective, any numbers? Do you keep a track of how many murders you dealt with how many cases were successfully followed through to conviction anything like that?

Steve:

I didn't. So when I wrote my book, I tried to work this out. And I couldn't. And I know it's over 100 cases people have been murdered, I never kept a record, our team, as a team would take on as as a team investigation, anything between six, and probably ten would be the most in a year, and that fluctuated. So they were the investigations that our team would deal with. But the way the murder teams work is is 24/7 is always someone on call. So you'd often go to a murder scene and you deal with the initial initial investigation, but then you would hand it on to another team to investigate. So I probably did that equally as much as the ones we investigated. And then you would also be asked to go and help other teams. So you kind of just lose track you just get involved in so many murders, there's some some that I've probably dealt with, I'd hate to think the families that I investigated, or loved ones would think this of me but there's some I've genuinely forgotten. So I'll be with colleagues will be talking about old cases and there are cases I've genuinely forgotten about because there was so many, there's some that you never will but as such, in 12 years, there were so many, that you just can't keep on top of them.

Claire:

Obviously, were tuned into looking for losses in life at the moment because we're looking for ideas for the podcast and my mind is just going mad with this because in your job, there must, there's just so many you know it's loss of life, loss of freedom, loss of innocence, loss of abilities, you've got victims losing family, you've got offenders losing families, you've got there's so much out there, to deal with, do you need to be a certain kind of personality to do this kind of job and to cope with loss on a daily basis like that? Or do you think you you like you said, you just get thrown in and you kind of learn how to how to deal with it?

Steve:

Yeah, the way I look at it, so as I say I was about 20, well I was 20 when I joined the police, literally just out of school and I'd never seen a dead body, I've never had to deal with a victim of any of any kind, not even not even a victim whether someone has been killed or their family, a victim of a theft, I've never dealt with that. What no one is ever done is parachuted straight into a murder investigation. So there's a route you go through to get there. And that starts off with being sent to deal with a body, I can I can remember the first one I ever saw as clear as day we went. And it was a lady that hadn't been seen for a couple of days, a door had gone to the flat, and we broke in through the door, and we found I can picture it, as if it's, as if it's today and and that's because it was my first one. In between, then there have been countless hundreds I would have seen. But I do remember that as the first one. And what you're kind of doing as you're going along, it's all about resilience, and resilience, I think, is something that is built up by, you see something, you see something else and things become a little bit easier. And when you've when you've, if I'd been put into 7/7, without having gone through all those steps, it probably would have blown my mind and I wouldn't have been able to cope and I'd probably been a wreck at the end of it. But because I'd seen that bodies because I dealt with traffic accidents, and been to murder scenes, so many different ways of seeing a dead body, in so many different circumstances, and some of them not particularly nice, someone getting hit by train for instance, when you get to, when you get, by the time you get to 7/7, you're conditioned to it so you can handle it. And it's the same with murder and dealing with the families and dealing with witnesses that have seen something traumatic. You've dealt with so many different victims from so many different scenarios before you've got to there. Again, you you learn mechanisms in how to deal with them.

Chris:

What have been the range of emotions that you've felt that you've experienced, sort of before, during or after some of the cases that you've worked on?

Steve:

A few things really. So one of the things, I'm gonna say, I don't want to sound like a nutter when I talk about this. And it was only was when I was, I was writing my book and I was reflecting on something and it kind of, I kind of realised. So during the time I was investigating murders, it was the conversations I used to have with my partner, it's to wake up in the morning and I would have the most violent dreams, where it was me that was carrying out the violence, I'd be stabbing people, shooting people, strangling them. I mean, I just kind of laughed it off. And it was it was kind of like 'oh, what you dreamt about now?' and it wasn't it didn't bother me, it was just I was aware of it. But when I stopped investigating murder, the dreams stopped. So that's not a coincidence is it? There's some way, so my way of dealing with things is I can't compartmentalise I just lock things away. But when you're asleep and your brain is taken over, and you're not in control, these things kind of manifest don't they? and for me, that's how it clearly manifest - in my dreams. The violence that I was dealing with and seeing on a daily basis was was forming part of my dreams. Again, it's not something that I look back and I'm worried about because I'm not waking up in the morning and trying to carry out murderers. It's just that's that's something that's going on at night. Again, when I was reflecting, I always used to think that way I dealt with things was was a brave way. I put on a I can deal with things that don't bother me, that's brave. But then I come to realise later on, is it's not, and that what happened was is my dad died. I read the eulogy. Now, what that involved was me writing down my feelings, I don't deal with feelings, everything, I just lock it away, I had to suddenly think about my feelings and write them down. And not only that, I had to stand in front of a roomful of people, and talk about them and tell people how I felt about my dad. And I was an absolute mess. I couldn't. My sisters on each arm, I was just, I was just, I'd never cried so much in my life. And I got through it somehow. And afterwards, not straight afterwards, but later on, I was I was thinking about and the reason is because I don't deal with feelings because I lock things away. When you have to confront them you don't have when I'm talking about resilience and mechanisms. I don't have that resilience, I don't have those mechanisms, because I don't deal with feelings. And when suddenly you've got to, I found it impossible. It was really, really hard. And it made me realise that actually the way I deal with things is actually a bit cowardly. It's not confronting it. And is it later than going to come back and bite you on the backside which it did for me there, it's like, well, I can't express my feelings without breaking down. So I don't think this will happen, but somewhere lurking in my brain is all this grief and all this, everything that I've seen, and I hope one day it doesn't come out. I don't think it will. But the back of my mind, it's like, well, it could.

Chris:

One of the recurring themes that we've had so much through the podcast series so far has been the importance of feeling your feelings of allowing yourself, making yourself really feel those feelings. And you said there a few times about, you don't do that you lock them away. And that's presumably partly what the job has required of you to do. But then, is there a danger that that's the side of work that you bring home into your personal life? Does it concern you that you do that so quickly?

Steve:

If I look back, so I'm like very many detectives, I'm divorced. And like other very, a lot of detectives, I was a heavy drinker, not so much now that I've left the police. But sometimes I think, 'well, did things happen that I wasn't aware of, that that's how it manifest itself?' Was I was more angry than I should have been? Was I less patient, because of subconsciously I'm coping with something or I'm not, I'm not dealing with it. I'm just locking it away. I don't know the answer. But you do. Yeah, I do think and I look back and drinking is a big culture within being a detective and you have a really heavy day or every week, and you'll go out and you get drunk and you end up half the time abusing each other. And, again, that's not that's not a healthy way of dealing with it, but it's the way that we did.

Claire:

Yeah, we heard the same thing about the military, a while ago, someone was in that and said in the early days, that was the coping strategy, you would you know, you'd have alcohol, you know, a beer at the end of a hard day. And it was even bought for you, as you know, get this down you that will help type thing. So I think that is going back, that was the way people coped, it's good to see that people are more aware of mental health and other ways of doing things. Has it kind of led to you, I mean, this is probably something Chris doesn't want me to share on the podcast, but if somebody walks towards Chris in a hoodie, he's fairly convinced he's about to get stabbed. And so there's this there's, in most people, I think there's this fear. >>> Just inserting a quick note to the listener here, at this point, in the video call, Steve was in an ever darkening room because the sun was going down. And when I mentioned hoodies, he then flipped his dark hood over his head, which is why we were laughing. Back to the interview.<<< So yeah, I think, you know, obviously, people have this kind of, because you see you watch things on TV, and everybody's sort of out to get everybody else, has it led to this sort of understanding of humans in a different way for you. I mean, is it anything you're fearful of? Has it gone the other way and kind of benefited you in that way?

Chris:

Or made you hyper vigilant?!

Steve:

I'm not very trusting of people, I will probably err on the on the, this person's out to try and get me, rather than give people the benefit of the doubt. I've got, it's funny I was, we were talking yesterday, with my partner about a particular subject, and it was a person that's allowed themselves to be put in a really quite awkward position. And I found myself having not much sympathy for them, because I'm thinking, well, you must have seen the signs, come on, look at the signs, they're there. But I suppose yeah, I'm probably more switched on to those signs. But one of the things that when I was in uniform I learnt is - my default position is, you're lying to me. And unless you can convince me otherwise, you're lying. Because if your default position is the other that you're probably telling me the truth, unless unless you say something that I think is a lie. You can you people are gonna have you over all the time. So my default position was always 'right, you're lying', and I wouldn't be telling them this, but it'd be my mind, 'you're lying. I need to find, I need to understand, you're telling me the truth', as opposed to, 'you're telling me the truth, and I need to find out a lie'. Because that works much better in as a police officer as an investigator or a detective. And I probably, yeah, I carry that into into my own life. And it's, that's something I'm not worried about, because it doesn't manifest in me being horrible to people or unapproachable, or unfriendly. But inside, I'm, I'm sort of processing what they're saying. And I'm looking for signs.

Claire:

That makes a lot of sense. I've never really thought about it that way. But I guess, you know, my default would be obviously to go the other way. But I would just be probably walked all over constantly by people.

Steve:

You'd be surprised, I mean, how many people lie. People lie all the time, about so much stuff. And I didn't know until I was in the police and I'd think I'll got a uniform on people aren't gonna lie to me, and I couldn't have been further than the truth. Everyone just seemed to be wanting to lie to me, even bizarrely, sometimes, 'why you lying? You don't need to!'

Chris:

Earlier when I checked, you scoffed at the idea of the TV detectives and whatnot, but that's one thing they do get right - all the characters lie. And it's always the characters you meet in the first part of the programme that all say, 'Oh, I wasn't there', or whatever, it's always them that come round to 'ah you were the murderer!' You've been lying all the way along.

Claire:

It's weird, because that's my fear is that, you know, you get caught by the police for something and then you lie to them. That to me was like the, you know, I was brought up with that would be the worst thing you could do, forget all the other stuff. Lying to a policeman is right up there.

Steve:

Unfortunately, it's not an offence unless you're driving a car or something like that, and you're giving a false name.

Chris:

Okay, well, now you you've left the career behind in that sense, you're still very much involved in, you know, talking about it, as you are with us now, has there been a loss that you've had to consider around the end of your career? Does it come easy, was quite hard to actually close that chapter and, and lose your full time official role as a detective?

Steve:

So I've been in the police since I left school, basically, and joined the police, did 30 years. If you'd asked me a few years before I was leaving, how I would feel when I retired, I was worried that I was going to feel that loss. How was I going to cope with what had been a huge part of me, being in the police is really weird, because it's not a job, it's, it might sound a bit corny, but it is a vocation you are a police officer. It's not that you 'do the police', 'you are a police officer', it's who you are, it's what you do. And it's that's with you 24/7, you're never, again cliches, you're never off duty, you can't be, so if I was to see something as a police officer, I couldn't just turn a blind eye and walk away, I'd have to deal with it. So it is a huge, huge part of who you are. And I was worried that come the end of my career; How am I going to deal with that? How am I going to how am I going to feel that, and it is loss, it's like loss of your status because being a police officer gives you powers to do things other people can't, it gives you self worth, if you like, I don't know, kudos, or whatever, however you want to however you want to package it up. It is you you're a police officer, it's it's what makes you tick. And then I'm going to give in my warrent card, and I'm not going to do that anymore. And as I was as I was approaching it, I was worried that how I was going to deal with that. But because of the things that you've talked about, my book and doing a YouTube channel, and I've got involved in other things, my mind has been distracted and I kind of I feel like now I've got to the end of it. I feel like 'Right, I've done that, I've done my 30 years, I've done my bit' if you like and I can walk away with my head held high. I got a certificate saying exemplary service I got to the end, and I did good things, but I've done that. And now I can move on and and I could focus on other things. So I haven't felt that sense of loss. But I still socialise with police officers that I've worked with, a lot of them have retired, and a lot do feel that, they kind of lose, they they can't handle that part of their lives. And so what they ended up doing is they ended up going back to the police or a similar role in some way. So they there were jobs within the police where you can go back and you're not a police officer, warranted police officer, but you can do similar roles, or you can go and work for another organisation as an investigator or security or something. And I didn't want to do that I wanted to step away. And the reason that the writing the book and everything else is although I want to step away from being a police officer, murderer is the thing I know most and it's the thing I love and it's and it's not about what am I gonna do with it unless I'm going to be a hitman, there's not a lot you can really do with all this knowledge I've built up, so I put it in a book and, and a few other things I'm doing.

Chris:

Is your book called 'Murder is the thing I love most' in quotes?

Steve:

[laugh] Yeah, I'm actually enjoying myself and I'm enjoying the freedom it gives me because throughout my whole adult life I've had to be somewhere at certain time, do things that people tell me. And I kind of, you talk about loss, I lost a lot being in the police. So for instance, you if you are going to make plans to go out for dinner, you're gonna go out for dinner or if you're going to see your friends, are you having a party, throughout my whole policing career unless I specifically booked a day off as holiday that I could never guarantee that I was going to be able to do things at a certain time. So when my friends were saying, 'are we going out on New Year's?' and bear in mind I was 20 at the time so I was I was young, and certainly definitely as a detective, which was even more more true. If they're saying 'we're going to go out on New Year's' well, provisionally, I'll say ye, but if something happens, I can't guarantee when the World Cup's on. I love football, can I watch all the games? Maybe not, so many games I missed because I was doing things. So now having that freedom. We do get a good pension from the police, but I think that's a trade off for all the things I have lost in my life. Where I've got a broken marriage behind me and my kids didn't see me. I was on the Anti Terrorist branch and I remember there's one in particular investigation we did, and we were doing some surveillance work. And I did 60 nights on the trot, it was 12 hour shifts, and it was over in West London, and I was doing about three hours travelling a day. So I was working 15 hours of a night, and I was separated from from my ex wife and children. So I didn't see my kids for I think it was something like best part of two months, I didn't see my children, you can't get that back. But funnily it hasn't, hasn't affected my children tobad because those two first ones, they both joined the police themselves. So...

Chris:

Yeah, they should've waited for the book!

Steve:

...they can't, they can't, it obviously wasn't too too impactful on them, but I did miss out on an awful lot of their life.

Claire:

When you look back over all this aspects of loss, what do you think has been the hardest loss you've been through? Whether it whether it be on the personal side, with your dad, or family, or actually what the job took from you?

Steve:

Yeah, I think I think the job having taken away my ability to control my life. Even to the point, well it's not the same now, but when I first joined a police, you had to clear where you lived, who you lived with, couldn't, you had to live within a certain distance of London, that's, that's got to be more relaxed now. There's so much within my 30 years, where I'm beholden to somebody else, I don't have I don't have the freedom that other people have. And also so, not that I was gonna go wild and go out and do things, but even when I was out with socially with my friends, I was still a police officer, so I still had to act in a certain way, and I knew there were repercussions if I if I didn't. So I joined in '91, and my friends, who are still my friends now, had a very different experience in their early 20's than I did, it was around the time of acid house and you know, the kinds of things, and raves, and you know what I'm talking about they were getting up to. So I didn't have any of that. So I basically went from being a teenager to being middle aged. And I missed out on, I missed out an awful lot. I'm not saying that in a way that I'm bitter, it's just the fact that if you choose to be a police officer, you give up certain freedoms that other people have.

Chris:

You spent most of your career with the police. I imagine with with things technology, developing ways of communicating and then the last sort of 5-10 years that that's absolutely exploded with with how the work may be evolving. How do you feel about the future of of detective work of policing with in the evolution of Ultra HD CCTV cameras, and social media, and videos being recorded by every car on the road now in dashcams, how do you think the future of policing looks?

Steve:

Yeah, so it's twofold, really. So advances in technology is fantastic for for solving crimes, particularly... So if we, if we're talking about murders, so majority of murders aren't planned, they're spontaneous, and they're between people that know each other. So I think things like CCTV and telephones have made solving crimes a lot easier, and then you've got the forensics. So the advances in forensics every year, there seems to be a new one, a new one which makes the investigations easier. So that's great, which makes police work a lot easier. But the flip side to that is when it comes to organised crime, and there are ways now in which, so for instance, 15 years ago, people could only communicate by using their mobile phone, and the record was there, you use your phone, you can see when somebody made a text message, made a phone call. Now it's it, people can make it absolutely impossible for for you to be able to see what they're doing. So when I was on the Anti Terrorist branch, so the way terrorists used to get around things would be that they would, they would have one email account, they'd all have access to it, and they'd write in the drafts, and then you'd log in and you can see the drafts, and it was it was quite basic really, but they would do it. Now it's it's moved on so much. So technology is great for solving some crimes, but organised criminals that are a bit savvy can make it very, very difficult for you. So it's a double edged sword really,

Chris:

What about from a member of the public's perspective in that we now and maybe becoming more desensitised to stuff because we see it a lot more, we see stuff happening clearly, you know, even when he mentioned like 7/7 that then there were CCTV footage that we could see on the news moving images even though it's quite pixelated, we could see moving images of explosions, today in our houses have doorbell cameras that record really high clear images, so so we as members the public can experience crime through our screens in in a clearer way and violent crime than we've ever really seen before. What what impact is it that will have on members of the public?

Steve:

It's funny should say that actually. So I've been invited to talk at something called CrimeCon and I'm on stage talking about why some killers are more notorious then others. And I've been I've been doing a lot of research into it. When we think of notorious killers, a lot of it is from the past. Part of me wonders whether now in order for you to be, because we see so much in films, video games, documentaries, for you to stand out and be able to be notorious, I start to worry how you actually got to do. Because as I'm going through and I'm researching serial killers in the United Kingdom, the ones that you can name off the top of your head are from the past and it's because they're reinforced and it was when it was new; Jack the Ripper, Yorkshire Ripper, Dennis Nielsen, whatever it is, it's because it's from the past. And the more recent ones you know, I've never heard of him - like the Camden Ripper who killed three people and dismembered their bodies, or there's the what's it called?

Claire:

You see, you can't remember!

Steve:

Crossbow, the crossbow cannibal. No, I was thinking of his name. The crossbow cannibal who killed people with his crossbow and then ate them. Well I've never heard of him. And you think like, well, it what do you do now to stand out in a world where people are so desensitised to to violence they see all the time on television? So recently, the last year we had Sarah Everard and Wayne Couzens, and it's like, it almost has to stand out so much, there has to be some unique aspect to a case, for it to become in our public conscience, that it doesn't worry me that where are we at? That people can literally kill three people and eat them, and nobody's heard of them. Whereas 20-30 years ago, that person would be a household name. So yeah, I think it's, maybe that's just one aspect of, of what I'd be looking at. But I do think as a society, as a society, we've become a lot, and we go back to what I was talking about resilience to, to what we see and what I saw and how I dealt with it, I think that's maybe where we're at as a society, we've built up that resilience, and you just have to turn on the news and watch what's happening in Ukraine, or on Twitter and see see graphic detail of what's happening in the war and we've just become immune to it almost.

Claire:

Yeah, it's quite frightening in a day. I mean, I was chatting to somebody about having been with or seen people that had died. And they asked, have you seen a dead body? And and I said, No. And then I sort of stopped and thought I was like, no, no, don't think I have no, I haven't. And I thought crumbs, why, why would I even think about that? And it's because I've seen so much stuff on TV, that it kind of mixes in a little bit with like, have I seen this thing in real life? I think that's terrifying that I've got that many kind of images that it would almost merge with reality a little bit having watched so much stuff. I guess depends what you watch, but one thing I was going to ask about was, you said about people lying to you, and that kind of is a lot more common than you think. Over your career, did you see a general kind of decline in loss of respect for the police? Because I was brought up, you know, to have the highest respect, and I feel like that's quite old fashioned nowadays. Did that impact? Did you see that?

Steve:

Yeah, definitely. I'll be careful how word this, I don't want it to reflect poorly on the policing that I came through, but police officers, now I'm not saying that police officers go round, used to go around handing out beatings, it's not what I'm about to say, but police officers could be very firm with people, and put people in their place, make sure that they understood that that's not how you talk to me. Nowadays, everybody's got a mobile phone, and you have to be so polite now that even even, you can't swear at somebody without getting a complaint, and then it being... So all police officers have to be on their sort of complete and utter best behaviour, which they should be, I'm not saying otherwise. But what that means is that people that think they could get away with stuff, can. And then what happens is that because I can get away with that, they can get away with a little bit more, get away with more, and what you end up with is those videos of kids kicking police officers laying in the road, kicking them, not to death, but giving them a good old good old kicking, was everyone's filming on it and laughing and pointing at the police officer and laughing, but that's what happens. But as soon as you start to lose that respect, and I worry, not so much for my daughter because she's a detective, my son works in a busy South London police station, and I do worry now that he's more likely to get assaulted than I was, because of that, because people, because it's a natural progression, isn't it? If I can swear at you, then I can shout at you, then after well, can I hit you? and that's what I worry about.

Claire:

Did you ever kind of, we asked everybody this because we're just curious about it, but the question 'why?' is that something that you've, you've had kind of come up in relation to like, why do these people do this to each other? Or why you chose the career? Or why such suffering exists in the world? Or is that a question that's ever plauged you in any way?

Steve:

So when it comes to 'why?', so when I wrote my book, I was writing it to people that like true crime. So I went to a couple of Facebook groups, one in the States, one here, and I asked questions, 'if you were to read a book about how murder investigated, what questions would you have?' And the number one question was, 'why do people kill?' And so I was like, well, I need to address that, I need to understand that and I put an awful lot of thought into and I looked at the murders, I dealt with, and tried to get a really good understanding of why they all happen. And, and I did, and I come up, and I believe I've come up with, I'm not saying I'm a genius but I've come up with, what I believe is, the reason why people kill and it's three reasons why people kill. Just very briefly, so, it's 'Push of Emotion', so somebody feels an intense emotion that drives them to kill, so it's usually a trigger emotion, like jealousy, anger. Then you've got 'Pull of Emotion', which is where somebody wants to carry out an act in order to feel something, so quite often, that's power, so a lot of domestic murders fall under this, where someone's controlling somebody, and they'll hurt someone to feel that power to feel in control, which leads to, sadly, far too many times, somebody dying. Or it could be that sexual gratification, or just the thrill of killing someone, so that's 'Pull of Emotion'. And the third one is 'Gain'. So I, I want something in order for me to get that I have to hurt you, or I have to kill you. So that's obviously, the obvious one is robbery, but then you've got things like they're doing it for, to further a cause for terrorism. So if you take away murder from from the act of murder, the crime, it's still those things, but people do it because of how they feel and how they want to feel, the benefit they'll get. And so it was like a bit of a, like a light bulb moment for me when I actually boiled it down, and it's like, it actually as complicated as you can make it the reasons why people kill, it's actually quite simple, and it boils down to why we do anything as human beings, because of how we feel, what we want to feel or the benefit will get.

Chris:

When you became a detective, if you were given the choice would you like to be a detective in the world of pushed emotion or pulled emotion or gain? Is there one of those three that you'd have chosen to spend most of your time investigating crimes within one of those categories?

Steve:

The one that frightens me the most is 'Pull of Emotion'. You can kind of understand why someone gets angry and does something or they get jealous, you can understand that. Or you can you can get your head around someone killing because they want to rob someone for their drugs or something, you can get around that. But someone who who kills in order to make themselves feel better or make themselves feel something, that I think is scary. So yeah, so if there's one that I would put my efforts into.

Claire:

What's your general view of humans then?!

Steve:

[laughs] Right, so my retirement, what I would like to do, and we're making plans for this, is to move to the country where I'm surrounded by sheep!

Claire:

Says it all!

Chris:

Not all sheep are nice, you know?

Steve:

Yeah. Again, my frame of reference is I've only ever seen them, but they look they look all right, but my frame of reference for human beings is that like tend to be, they can be quite nasty.

Chris:

Yeah. Okay. Well, Steve, we're so grateful for your time, and it's been fascinating to speak to you. Final question, what's your Herman?

Steve:

My Herman, so I put a lot of thought into this, it's what used to drive me as a police officer; doing the right thing. And doing the right thing isn't always the easy thing. So for instance, investigating a murder, the easy thing is to find someone and put them in prison and you've solved it. But that might not be the right person. Or you might have gone about it in the wrong way. And it's something that I always had to reinforce with officers that I was responsible for, because when you investigate murders, there are certain things that might come up that point away from the person that you've investigating. And the easiest thing in the world is to just ignore that because that doesn't help our case. Well, no, we don't do that. Even if it makes our case harder. We have to get there the right way. So I always frame our goal as a murder investigation team as secure in a safe and proper conviction at court, because in the past when people haven't done that it's led to miscarriages of justice, etc. So that's in any part of your life and anything you do, there's usually a quick way to get somewhere and it was the right way, and I would always say, go the right way, even if you don't get into where you want to get to, do the right way because if you do it the quick way, it's gonna come back and bite you on the arse.

Claire:

We had such a great time chatting to Steve about this subject, and we're so grateful with how down to earth and honest he was about such a huge and tragic subject.

Chris:

Make sure you join Claire for next week's Let's Chat... episode where she talks to Jared Altic, a police chaplain in Kansas City about what it's like to work alongside police officers as they face loss and tragedy on a daily basis.

Claire:

To find out more about Steve Keogh. You can visit his website www.murderacademy.com or check out his YouTube channel: Murder Academy. And we'll put links in our show notes to his social media and his book; 'Murder Investigation Team: how Scotland Yard really catches killers'.

Chris:

As for Claire and myself, visit www.thesilentwhy.com for more or follow us on whatever social media platform you're on, where you'll find Claire posting new episode alerts blogs, quotes from guests, and lots of other lovely stuff.

Claire:

We'll end this episode with a quote from author M. Russell Ballard. "It may not always be easy, convenient, or politically correct to stand for truth and right. But it is the right thing to do. Always."