Society must understand the human story behind crime to deal with it, according to the creators of Crooks.

A ‘criminal soap opera’ acted and written by “real life crooks” who have turned their back on crime is aiming to increase people’s understanding of offending so society can better deal with it.

Crooks is a new ‘real-life’ crime drama created and performed by ex-offenders behind offences such as ID theft, teen gangs, smuggling, cyber-scams and multi-million-pound credit card hustles.

Described as a cross between The Wire and The Only Way is Essex, the short series has pooled the experiences and insights of 20 ex-career criminals and the people they still know who are involved in crime – from those in street gangs to serious organised mobs.

It aims to “get the real, human story of crime onto the record” to help tackle offending, according to the team behind it.

“Making documentaries about crime is hard,” the team behind Crooks said.


“You can’t capture the real thing because, of course, people would be arrested. Crooks is our answer to that problem. Usually, non-criminal actors, directors and writers just don’t get the essence of what goes on, on the street. Criminals and film-makers have for the most part grown up in very different worlds and find it hard to understand each other.

“There are many talented actors and writers who are also ex-criminals so for Crooks we developed a method of writing with our ex-criminal actors.

“Each actor created a character who is a fictional version of themselves or people they knew. Then we all worked together on storylines involving those characters. There’s no shortage of experience to draw from and everyone checks each other’s ideas to make sure they’re real. We believe that we’ve ended up with the closest thing drama can get to an all-access documentary.

“Everyone on the team has a hunger to tell the real human story of crime on our streets. We feel we’ve made an important contribution to the understanding of crime and people who commit it because, if you don’t understand it, how can you deal with it?”

The first series of Crooks consists of five four-minute episodes and is available to watch now for free here.


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