Theo Wilcocks interviews Peter Bleksley, a former undercover policeman tracking down Kevin Parle, whose undertakings in Glasgow may be crucial to Bleksley’s success.
I managed to organise the meeting with Peter Bleksley on one of the few Saturday afternoons that he was free: QPR, his favourite football team, weren’t playing. This was congruous with the image of a superfan that can be ascertained from his book and his proud testimony, while many of his casual and investigatory encounters begin with some light-hearted chat about sports.
Peter Bleksley is a former undercover policeman, being one of the founding members of Scotland Yard’s undercover unit. But to consign him to the label of a former cop would be an injustice. Regular appearances on podcasts, talk shows and the likes of Channel 4’s hit-show Hunted are all within his remit. I wanted to get to the bottom of Mr Bleksley’s biggest and latest project: the search for one of Britain’s most wanted criminals, Kevin Parle.
"I wanted to get to the bottom of Mr Bleksley’s biggest and latest project: the search for one of Britain’s most wanted criminals, Kevin Parle."
Kevin Parle is wanted in connection with the brutal murders of two young people in Liverpool. The first is the case of 16-year-old old Liam Kelly in June 2004, gunned down over a £200 drug debt. Parle was arrested and bailed, but he then absconded and never returned. The second is the case of 22-year-old mother-of-three Lucy Hargreaves. She was shot dead on the sofa in her own home, which was then set on fire. Her youngest child and her boyfriend, the suspected target of the attack, managed to escape through an upstairs window.
Both crimes demonstrate a truly grotesque level of violence and at the centre of them, two young people’s lives were cut short, and their families left devastated. Neither have been dealt justice by the charging of their murderers.
So, what has Glasgow got to do with it? Kevin Parle was known to be a visitor to Glasgow around 2003-2004, likely in connection with the vehicle trade. He was known to frequent the Corinthian Club in the Merchant City area of the city centre. Witnesses repeatedly refer to Kevin’s "gift of the gab", stating that he was confident and would often talk highly of himself, and that his philandering with women was serial. If you know someone who may have come across Kevin Parle in Glasgow, or in connection with him, even a friend of a brief girlfriend: get in touch with Peter Bleksley. Catching organised criminals isn’t just about detailing their crimes and whereabouts: forming a picture of their tendencies, personality and behaviours is crucial. If your information leads to his capture, you may receive £20,000 as a reward.
"So, what has Glasgow got to do with it? Witnesses repeatedly refer to Kevin’s "gift of the gab", stating that he was confident and would often talk highly of himself, and that his philandering with women was serial."
You might be wondering what warrants this sustained search for Kevin Parle, given the wealth of other criminals on the run right now. His crimes took place a long time ago, and surely there are more pertinent cases to be investigated?
Well, according to Peter Bleksley, this attitude is part of the problem. He asserts that some of those in the upper echelons of the police force choose to believe a convenient rumour that Kevin Parle is dead. This belief, however, has no basis whatsoever. In fact, the odds are very much stacked in favour of the impression that Kevin Parle is alive and active, with information regularly pointing towards the Costa Blanca, Spain. After all, he is 6ft 6in, so regular sightings would possess some common themes.
Peter Bleksley’s search for Kevin Parle has become a phenomenon in itself, and may hold some clues about effective police reform in the future. His book MANHUNT has been incredibly popular. Similarly, the BBC Sounds series on his project boasts millions of streams and a second series has gone live as of this year. I asked Peter Bleksley about what his search for Kevin Parle might signify, and his views on the rise of shows like 24 Hours in Police Custody, in which the audience is treated as an interactive force in the search and conviction of perpetrators.
"Bleksley’s search for Kevin Parle has become a phenomenon in itself, and may hold some clues about effective police reform in the future."
In response, the conversation reaches the inevitable subject of trust in policing: “I think public trust in the police has been eroded considerably in recent years and not just by headline cases like Wayne Couzens. There’s a chip chip chipping away fuelled by all sorts of things such as the thankless task of enforcing lockdown regulations…”
This goes some way to putting one of Peter Bleksley’s straplines into perspective: “As an investigative writer I’ve often got further with a business card than I ever did with a warrant card.” It also potentially explains why his search has proven so popular: it provides a means for people to meaningfully participate in a live case without being overburdened by their existing preconceptions of the police. It also must be acknowledged that some people enjoy following the process of a live investigation, which has created a potential intertwining of the role of the public: they are the audience, yes, but they are also potential witnesses or investigators.
One of the most gripping facts about Peter Bleksley’s search for Kevin Parle is that it has been done outside of the special abilities granted to law enforcement. Of course, his background working undercover for the police will have worked heavily in his favour, and I’m not suggesting that an army of armchair-detectives start poking around for the details of organised crime syndicates which Kevin Parle may have connections to. However, all of the things he has done have been within the realms of possibility for any member of the public. His case therefore raises some important questions about the current state of police investigations. How efficient are they? How damaged is the overall reputation of the police? What role can the public and media play in assisting these investigations?
Peter Bleksley’s endeavours represent not only a fierce pursual of justice, but also provide a potential insight into more effective policing in the future.
If you have any information regarding Kevin Parle, please contact the National Crime Agency, or Peter, on 07908 617694.
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