This is the first episode of Series 6 of Line of Duty. It was first broadcast on 21st March 2021.
Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Jo Davidson receives new information about the whereabouts of a suspect in the unsolved murder of investigative journalist Gail Vella. En route to raid the property, she spots an armed robbery in progress and stops the convoy. Suspicious of her motives, AC-12 launch an investigation. Still dealing with the fallout from their explosive investigation into undercover officer John Corbett, AC-12 soon realise they are facing their most enigmatic adversary yet.
On October 26, 2020 Police Sergeant (PS) Farida Jatri is working the night shift at Hillside Lane Station as part of the Murder Investigation Team (MIT) enquiry into the death of Gail Vella, called Operation Lighthouse. She takes a call with new intelligence relating to the case and involves Detective Sergeant (DS) Chris Lomax. A Covert Human Intelligence Source (CHIS) handler has called in new information.
DS Lomax calls in the Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) - Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Joanne Davidson. He greets her at the entrance to the station having already begun to prepare to apprehend the suspect identified by the CHIS. DS Lomax tells DCI Davidson that the CHIS has named a possible suspect previously unknown to the investigation who is alleged to have made a confession. The force's intelligence team have graded the information as 1A on their matrix (the information is deemed both reliable and to have been obtained firsthand). DCI Davidson agrees that they need to keep developing the intelligence and orders DS Lomax to bring the suspect in.
DCI Davidson calls in Detective Superintendent (DSU) Ian Buckells and briefs him on the lead. She asks him to sign off a directed surveillance authority on the premises they are planning to raid while they pull everything together. She relays that the intelligence comes from an established CHIS who is a casual sex worker. He is taken aback by the source. She shares her concern that she does not know their background, reasons for coming forward or drug use history. He suggests putting off any decision until he has had a coffee but DCI Davidson responds that it is their first lead in months. DSU Buckells is uncomfortable with the situation.
DCI Davidson returns to DS Lomax and breaks the news that their superintendent wants more time. DS Lomax shares his disappointment and orders their team to stand down. DCI Davidson's reaction to the delay is harder to judge.
The next morning, October 27, 2020, DCI Davidson holds a briefing for her team. She jokes that she saw Detective Inspector (DI) Kate Fleming arriving at the last minute and DI Fleming banters back that DCI Davidson also has a reputation for late nights. Davidson apologises to the team who were readying the raid the previous night explaining that after DSU Buckells spoke to the Strategic Firearms Commander (SFC) they agreed to await for executive level signoff on the operation. DS Lomax looks through the meeting room windows at the DSU Buckells as he speaks to a colleague and shakes his head. PS Jatri also demonstrates her frustration with the decision. DCI Davidson explains that their source has given them a name, Ross Turner, who allegedly boasted that they were involved in the murder. This is thought to be an alias as it does not appear in their databases. The source has also given an address - Flat 4F Beechwood House. Surveillance of the address has led to an out of focus photograph of a white male suspect at the window of the flat. DCI Davidson cautions her team that Turner is likely to be armed and should be considered extremely dangerous due to his links to the Vella murder.
The firearms team collect weapons from the armoury at the Hillside station. The MIT join the firearms officers and leave in a four vehicle convoy headed to the suspect's address.
En route to their destination DCI Davidson stops the convoy when she notices a white van parked outside a high street bookies. She orders the convoy to circle around to the back of the location. DCI Davidson calls in the change of direction as being due to a possible armed robbery. The diversion causes consternation among the team, who are concerned by the further delay. DI Fleming questions whether they could just call in the sighting for another team to follow-up on. DI Fleming checks the number plates of the van and finds that they belong to a red BMW 3 series. DI Fleming again counsels that they should move on and handover the fake plate to another team but DCI Davidson insists there is an immediate risk to the public because of the proximity to the betting shop indicating that the suspicious van is a likely getaway vehicle. DI Fleming remains silent in the face of her superior officer's insistence. DCI Davidson obtains permission to deploy the firearms team and orders them to intercept the van. The driver briefly attempts to flee but is cut off by a second police vehicle and surrenders.
The driver is apprehended and a group of four masked robbers exit the betting shop, one carrying a sawed off shotgun. Three of the suspects immediately surrender outside the bookies. The armed robber runs into the road and does not relinquish the shotgun. An officer fires a single shot which strikes the suspect in the chest. DCI Davidson swears repeatedly in apparent frustration. DI Fleming calls in the shooting as the firearms team secure the weapon and try to resuscitate the downed suspect. DCI Davidson calls in an urgent request for a replacement Approved Firearms Officer (AFO) team for the Vella suspect raid.
AFO Briggs declares the scene clear for the MIT to approach. DCI Davidson orders her team to secure the scene and the witnesses while transporting the suspects back to The Hill station. DCI Davidson asks DI Fleming to take command of the scene while she continues to their original destination. The control dispatcher informs them that their relief AFO team will take at least an hour to arrive and DCI Davidson implores them to speed things up.
DS Steve Arnott arrives at the offices of Anti Corruption Unit 12 (AC-12) and Detective Constable Chloe Bishop briefs him on their open cases. They are investigating the expense claims of "Officer K" and a possible false sickness absence for "Officer S". DS Arnott provides clear guidance to DC Bishop to proceed with a yellow notice unless "Officer K" and his union representative can produce satisfactory receipts and to involve occupational health in assessing "Officer S" before sitting at his desk.
DCI Davidson and her team get back on the road once their replacement firearms team arrives, leaving DI Fleming in command at the scene of the robbery. DCI Davidson calls for a situation report (sitrep) from her surveillance team who are monitoring the flat from a neighbouring building. They report that there has been no change and the suspect is still believed to be inside.
The firearms team move in and DCI Davidson gives the order to enter the property. After a tense wait the firearms team report that they have arrested a male suspect without incident. DCI Davidson orders her forensic team enter the flat and preserve as much evidence as possible on the suspect. DCI Davidson orders DS Lomax join the forensics team inside the property. The suspect is brought outside and is Terry Boyle, who is surprisingly unimposing for someone linked to a violent crime. DCI Davidson commends the Operational Firearms Commander for her team's work.
The MIT debrief back at The Hill in the evening. DS Lomax reports that the suspect confirmed their identity as Ross Turner. DI Fleming queries whether the name was given to him first and he admits that the suspect was told the name. DCI Davidson and DI Fleming both go to speak at the same time and DI Fleming jokes that great minds think alike. DCI Davidson explains that they need to bring in the CHIS to confirm that the man they have arrested is known to them as Ross Turner. DS Lomax explains that the handler has lost contact with the CHIS and is concerned they may have backed out of aiding the investigation. DCI Davidson voices her frustration and apologetically asks DS Lomax to keep trying.
DCI Davidson confides that their suspect is not what they were expecting and that they have asked a custody healthcare professional (HCP) to complete an assessment of their suspects capacity to face an interview. DI Fleming voices concerns that a person with learning difficulties like the man they have arrested could be their murderer. DCI Davidson suggests that he might fit with one of their two theories of the crime - they believe it was either an Organised Crime Group (OCG) hit or an obsessive fan or stalker.
DC Bishop takes a call from the front desk. An officer has come to AC-12 asking to speak to DS Arnott but will not give their details. DS Arnott agrees to speak to them on his way out. DS Arnott recognises PS Jatri from their past interactions on the Operation Trapdoor case. He tries to redirect her to AC-3 who now cover Polk Station, where she was assigned when he met her. She tells him that she is now working as part of the MIT at The Hill and this piques his interest.
DC Bishop shows PS Satri into an interview room and offers her a tea or coffee. DS Arnott looks up the members of the MIT on his computer, noting that DI Fleming is part of the team.
Superintendent Ted Hastings approaches Deputy Chief Constable (DCC) Andrea Wise and apologises for missing a meeting in the conference room, believing that his office failed to put it in his diary. DCC Wise explains that he was not invited. Hastings is put out at being sidelined and protests that he accepted the disciplinary action against him. DCC Wise advises him that many of his colleagues believe he is lucky to have kept his position in command of AC-12 and recommends that he keep his head down.
DS Arnott takes his newly prepared case file on the MIT to Hastings, having protected PS Satri's identity as "Officer J". Satri has raised concerns about DCI Davidson's conduct. DS Arnott briefs Hastings on the Vella murder inquiry, sharing a news article clipping about Vella's funeral dated October 3, 2019. The article states that Vella was murdered on September 10th, 2019 and that her funeral was well attended at St. Bartholomew's Church in Kingsgate on October 2, 2019. The reporter interviewed Vella's sister, Maria Frasier, who expressed frustration with the lack of progress in solving her murder. The article speculates that her death could have been a contract killing due to her hard hitting investigative journalism. The report also mentions Vella's producer at Midlands News, Haran Nadaraja.
DS Arnott relays that Vella was murdered while returning home from work and was shot once in the back of the head as she exited her Peugot 108 outside her residence in Kingsgate. Arnott highlights the pathology report showing that the muzzle of the firearm was pressed against Vella's head prior to the shot and Hastings surmises that this is a "hard contact" technique used to limit forensic evidence in shootings. PS Satri has divulged concerns about the capacity of their arrested suspect to carry out the murder and also that DCI Davidson delayed the convoy on their way to make the arrest. DS Arnott suggests covertly approaching other members of the team. Hastings sees DI Fleming's records in the file and changes the subject, asking how DC Bishop is getting on. DS Arnott responds that she is good. Hastings has reservations about launching an investigation as they cannot be sure of the loyalty of DI Fleming. DS Arnott emphatically makes the case that PS Satri chose to come to AC-12 and has faith in them to do the right thing. Hastings tells DS Arnott he needs more information and shuts down his protests.
DS Arnott meets DI Nicky Rogerson for coffee. He tells her that he is looking to transfer away from anti-corruption and is looking for a new challenge. DI Rogerson is enthusiastic. She invites DS Arnott for a drink, explaining that she has split from her partner. He is hesitant, considering that they may be working together. She jokes that he really has been in anti-corruption for too long, kisses him on the cheek and leaves.
DI Fleming visits the flat at Beechwood House along with the rest of the MIT. DS Lomax shares updates from the scene - they have found news clippings about Vella with two sets of fingerprints and DNA deposits and there are also signs of forced entry visible on the inside of the flat door. DCI Davidson is sceptical about the forced entry as their AFO team had to break down the door. DS Lomax notes that the damage matches that found on a dining chair. DI Fleming believes the chair was used to try to prevent entry to the flat but DCI Davidson dismisses this as possibly insignificant because they cannot be sure when the damage occurred. DI Fleming counters that the flat is well maintained and so it is unlikely the damage would have been left unrepaired for long. DCI Davidson is unmoved by the speculation. DS Lomax takes a call from PS Satri. He relays that the HCP has approved an interview with their suspect.
DI Fleming observes remotely as DCI Davidson and DS Lomax interview Boyle with his solicitor, Margaret Moore, an appropriate adult. DS Lomax asks Boyle to confirm his identity. Moore interjects to explain that he falsely identified himself as Ross Turner under the strain of questioning and states that he is in fact named Terry Boyle. Boyle is unresponsive to most questions put to him. He states "no" when asked if he lives at, or was visiting, Beechwood House. Moore states that he lives at Flat B, Dorton Villas in the Kingsgate area. DCI Davidson notes the link between the address and Vella's residence before asking if Boyle knows Vella. Boyle nods in response and DCI Davidson shows him the press cuttings found at the Beechwood House flat. She asks if he recognises them but he does not respond. She asks if he recognises Vella and he nods. DCI Davidson asks Boyle what his relationship is to Vella and he says "nice lady".
DC Bishop shows DS Arnott the surprisingly clean criminal record's for three of the men arrested in the armed robbery, Daniel Peronell, Kevin Farmount and Jake Kilorgan. They are suspicious that the robbery was out of character for those involved and timed suspiciously to coincide with the convoy passing through the area.
DS Arnott and DC Bishop visit the robbery crime scene. DS Arnott notes that DCI Davidson had a very narrow window to reach her conclusion that there was a possible armed robbery in progress as they passed the side street where the betting shop is located. He suggests they pull the security camera footage from the area.
DI Fleming visits Boyles flat at Dorton Villas where a forensic team is already in place. The forensic co-ordinator updates her that they have found very little evidence of anyone living in the flat other than another set of pictures of Vella stuck to the kitchen wall.
DI Fleming returns to The Hill and briefs DCI Davidson on the findings from Boyle's alleged address. Neighbours at Dorton Villas were able to identify Boyle while similar enquiries at Beechwood House have revealed that no-one was particularly familiar with the occupier of Flat 4F but some were able to describe a short and stocky man. DCI Davidson notes that the description fits Boyle. DI Fleming asserts that they need the CHIS to confirm that Boyle was the man that confessed to being involved in the killing. DCI Davidson agrees and notes that she has run out of patience before asking DI Fleming to set up a meeting with their source's handler. DCI Davidson compares the blurred photograph from the initial surveillance to Doyle's picture.
DI Fleming brings the handler, DS Marks, to meet with DCI Davidson. DCI Davidson presses DS Marks for the location of the informant but he defensively states that they have broken contact. DI Fleming suggests that the MIT have the resources to find the CHIS but DS Marks balks at disclosing their identity. DCI Davidson pulls DS Marks up on his failure to address his superior officers properly as "Ma'am" and then insists that he reveal the CHIS' name. DS Marks refuses but remembers to use the proper form of address. DCI Davidson angrily walks away. DI Fleming asks DS Marks if he is worried about the CHIS and apologises to him before rejoining DCI Davidson.
DS Arnott attempts to contact PS Jatri and leaves a voicemail requesting she call him.
PS Jatri anxiously checks her recent calls which show five missed calls from DS Arnott over the course of the day. DI Fleming texts her ex about having purchased a football shirt for their son, Josh, and asks if she can visit him. DI Fleming takes a call from a sergeant and makes note of the spelling of a name.
DSU Buckells calls DCI Davidson into his office asking for an update he can relay to the Chief Constable. DCI Davidson comments that it is too early to reach a conclusion and DSU Buckells jokingly complains about the speed of the investigation. He asks DCI Davidson to confirm if Boyle is their killer and she refuses to be drawn into speculation. She predicts they will need a further twelve hours to develop the investigation before deciding whether to charge Boyle. DSU Buckells vents his frustration and DCI Davidson explains that they have lost contact with the CHIS.
DCI Davidson closes the door to DSU Buckell's office. She tells him that if things are going to go the way that they want them to they need to get the identity of the CHIS. DSU Buckells swallows nervously. DI Fleming and the rest of the team observe the somewhat tense discussion between their superior officers.
DCI Davidson pointedly approaches PS Jatri and shares that Boyle is having a rest break and therefore she is planning to leave soon. PS Jatri is likeminded which causes DCI Davidson visible consternation.
DI Fleming reports that there was a gap in their surveillance of the Beechwood House flat while they were diverted to the armed robbery. She elucidates that the surveillance team were put in place for directed surveillance which under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act does not include surveillance of private residences or vehicles. Intrusive surveillance authority was needed to monitor the property covertly with high power lenses. The surveillance team were forced to temporarily stop their activity while the proper authority was sought. DI Fleming notes that DSU Buckells made the initial request for the surveillance and that it was his error on the paperwork. (Not realising that the discrepancy originated when DCI Davidson specifically told DSU Buckells they needed direct surveillance authority earlier.) DI Fleming is concerned that the suspect photographed in the initial surveillance may not be Boyle and may have been able to flee the property during the gap in surveillance. DCI Davidson notes that they will have to factor this information into their thinking. DI Fleming confides that she has kept the issue discrete and DCI Davidson thanks her and notes that she is impressed by her team first attitude, especially given her background in anti-corruption. DI Fleming says she was fed up with investigating police officers and would rather go after psychopathic criminals like Vella's murderer.
DS Arnott reviews the security camera footage from the armed robbery and confirms his suspicion that DCI Davidson had little information to provoke her into stopping the convoy. He shows the footage to Superintendent Hastings who concurs. DS Arnott confides that his source has broken contact with him and seeks permission to contact DI Fleming as the Deputy SIO. Hastings agrees to consider the proposal.
DS Arnott visits multiple pharmacies, purchasing several packs of painkillers before adding them to a stockpile in his home. He takes a series of pills and chases them down with a bottle of lager. DI Fleming is frustrated when she finally receives a response from her ex, stating that they spent the evening at the cinema and Josh is now asleep.
The MIT meet at a crime scene where PS Jatri has confirmed that the deceased is the CHIS from their case. He died after falling from the roof of a block of flats.
Back at The Hill, DI Fleming pulls the file on the CHIS, who is named Alastair Oldroyd. He was a low level offender and his death occurred in a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera blind-spot with no eye witnesses. Canvassing has garnered reports of people hearing a scream. DCI Davidson suggests this is suggestive of Oldroyd being pushed but is not conclusive. DI Fleming notes that they have lost their chance to confirm if Boyle is their suspect or not and laments the missed opportunity to save Oldroyd if they had been given his identity. DCI Davidson's face hardens as she agrees.
PS Jatri nervously leaves the building to call DS Arnott. She tearfully informs him about Oldroyd's death and tells him that she feels it is too dangerous to continue as a source for AC-12.
DCI Davidson leads a second interview with Boyle and Moore. DS Lomax informs Boyle that his fingerprints have been matched with those found at Flat 4F Beechwood House along with those of another man, Carl Banks. Boyle responds "no comment" when asked if he knows Banks. DS Lomax rephrases asking who Banks is. Moore suggests that they arrest and question Banks. DCI Davidson suggests Boyle can help them locate him but he is unresponsive. DCI Davidson brings up the cleaning fluids detected at Boyle's own address in Dorton Villas. Boyle remains silent. DCI Davidson shows Boyle a photograph of his kitchen noting his missing freezer and forensic evidence of coolant in the space. Boyle reaches for his neck but does not speak. DCI Davidson asks what happened to the appliance and Boyle answers that he does not know. DCI Davidson notes forensic evidence of cocaine and diamorphine in Boyle's flat and he is unable to comment. DCI Davidson suggests that these drugs can affect mood and memory and cause unpredictable and violent behaviour but Boyle does not respond. DCI Davidson introduces the photographs of Vella found in Boyle's kitchen. Moore interrupts noting the contradiction between intense cleaning and the presence of the incriminating photos. DCI Davidson proceeds to introduce semen deposits found on the images that have been tested as a match for Boyle. DCI Davidson asks Boyle if he wanted to have sex with Vella and he does not respond. DCI Davidson asks Boyle if he wanted to hurt Vella and he again does not respond. DCI Davidson introduces an article of clothing found in Boyle's flat which has tested positive for gunshot residue and asks if he shot Vella. Boyle groans and rubs his face.
DI Fleming exits Hillside Station having received a text message from DS Arnott announcing that he is there. He flashes his car headlights to get her attention. She joins him in the car and criticises his signal. She asks him to drive around to avoid being seen. She suggests that there is a good Balti restaurant nearby but that is not likely to be the reason for his visit. DS Arnott apologetically acknowledges that he wants her to help in his investigation.
- Kelly MacDonald as Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Joanne Davidson
- Martin Compston as Detective Sergeant (DS) Steve Arnott
- Vicky McClure as Detective Inspector (DI) Kate Fleming
- Adrian Dunbar as Superintendent Ted Hastings
- Anneika Rose as Police Sergeant Farida Jatri
- Nigel Boyle as Detective Superintendent (DSU) Ian Buckells
- Shalom Brune-Franklin as Detective Constable (DC) Chloe Bishop
- Perry Fitzpatrick as DS Chris Lomax
- Elizabeth Rider as Deputy Chief Constable (DCC) Andrea Wise
- Christina Chong as DI Nicola "Nicky" Rogerson
- Patrick Buchanan as Authorised Firearms Officer (AFO) Briggs
- Ben Rose as Jake Kilorgan (Armed Robbery Arrest)
- Diarmuid Noyes as Surveillance Officer (SL-15)
- Loreece Harrison as Operational Firearms Commander (TO-69)
- Tim Loane as Forensic Co-ordinator
- Tommy Jessop as Terry Boyle
- Sara Dylan as Margaret Moore, Terry's Solicitor
- Kwaku Fortune as Detective Sergeant Marks
- Cormac Murray as Daniel Peronell (Armed Robbery Arrest)
- Unknown as Kevin Farmount (Armed Robbery Arrest)
- Unknown as Fourth Robber (Armed Robbery Arrest)
- Unknown as Getaway Driver (Armed Robbery Arrest)
- Unknown as Alastair Oldroyd, Deceased CHIS
- Unknown as Carl Banks (photograph)
- Andi Osho as Gail Vella (photograph)