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Street Duty Case One: Knock Down

Series: Street Duty
By Chris Ould

Street Duty Case One: Knock Down



“The Trainee Police Officer programme is a pilot scheme which will enable the Police Service to enrol and train new recruits from the age of sixteen. Training will last two years, combining Academy study with Street Duty placement at selected operational stations.


On completion of the initial two-year training course, Trainee Police Officers will serve an additional year as Probationer PCs before joining their selected station as regular officers.


We anticipate that the TPO programme will enable the Police Service to more actively engage with younger elements of the community, as well as provide a fast-track entry to the Service for recruits demonstrating outstanding ability.


The TPO programme will be conducted on a trial basis in England and Wales and applicants will be chosen by selective interview. It is anticipated that the first intake of TPOs will number fifty, divided between three areas of the country: the South-west, North-east and the Midlands.”








In the evening darkness it was hard to tell that Ashleigh Jarvis was crying as she hurried blindly across the uneven paving stones of the precinct. Her long dark hair straggled across her face and hid the tears. The racking sobs that welled up from her chest came silently, hard and choking.

But even if you couldn’t tell that she was crying, you might have thought there was something odd about the way she moved. She hugged her arms tightly round her body, making her movements clumsy and off balance; but if you’d looked you’d probably have thought that it was just because she was cold. There was a chilly wind and her thin polyester cardigan clearly wasn’t enough to retain any heat.

So, if you’d noticed Ashleigh Jarvis at all, you’d probably have seen just another silly fourteen year old who’d gone out without a coat – just trying to keep warm as she hurried to her destination. No one could really have known she was crying, or that she was hugging herself because it was the only way she knew to keep herself from collapsing in broken pieces on the ground.

No one did look at Ashleigh though – not closely; not with anything more than a passing glance. So no one stopped her to ask if she was okay. No one registered the fact that she was leaving bare footprints whenever she trod on dry flagstones after wet ones, and no one thought she wouldn’t pause when she reached the kerb at the side of the road. In fact, no one really noticed her at all – not until they heard the skidding of tyres on tarmac and the surprisingly loud thud that came almost simultaneously.

No one saw the impact, not even Ashleigh Jarvis. She knew nothing about it. The driver of the lorry saw her stumble into the road, but with only two or three metres between them she was immediately lost from sight below the level of his windscreen, and by then it was too late.

Even by standing on the brakes the driver was unable to stop the truck for another twenty metres, and by that time Ashleigh Jarvis was lying bleeding and unconscious in the gutter behind him.

She was no longer hugging herself though, and perhaps that’s why she looked as if she had finally fallen apart.


On the other side of the Cadogan Estate Charlie Atkins had his fleece zipped right up to the neck so that it covered his collar and tie. There was nothing he could do to hide the suit trousers and polished shoes below the fleece though; and nothing he could ever say to convince his father that choir practice didn’t need Sunday-best clothes. All he could hope was that the darkness would hide what he was wearing if he passed any of the Kaddy Boys on the ten-minute walk to the church.

As yet he hadn’t seen anyone, so perhaps this time it would be okay. But even though he was off the estate, he was still alert – so when he heard the sudden thud and the crack of the shop window fracturing beside him he jumped and instinctively stepped sideways, away.

Even as he did so there was another dull thud, and when Charlie looked he could see that both impacts had been caused by a figure in a hoodie wielding a heavy ball-peen hammer inside the shop. The glass was starred in two places, with longer cracks radiating out from these points, but the window’s refusal to shatter was clearly annoying the person on the other side of the glass because he was already bringing the hammer back for a third blow.

This time he put so much effort into the swing that his hood slipped back on his head and, a split second before the glass fractured again, Charlie saw the face of Tyler Smith, contorted with effort and concentration.

Wide-eyed, Charlie was transfixed by the weirdness of the scene. As he stared he became aware of other figures inside the minimart – at least two – and of a general noise of breaking and shouting coming from the open door. For a second he wondered if it was a robbery, but if it was, why was Tyler Smith trying to break the window from the inside?

Charlie was still trying to make sense of all this when he realised that Tyler’s gaze was now locked on him through the crazed glass. The older boy was mouthing something unintelligible, but for Charlie the threatening gesture of his fist was clear enough – he didn’t want to be standing there when Tyler Smith came out of the shop. Quickly, Charlie swung away from the window and started to run.

Two or three minutes later, breathless and heart pounding, he vaulted up the church steps two at a time and fumbled in through the door as the organ swelled and voices rose in a few bars of “Everything I Need”.

Reverend Michaels was just inside and he turned at Charlie’s sudden entrance.

“Charlie? You been running again? How do you expect to sing for the Lord if you’re always out of breath?”

“Sorry, Reverend,” Charlie said. “I was— I didn’t want to be late.”

“Okay, well you’d better take a minute to catch up with yourself, then we’ll start properly, okay?”

“Okay,” Charlie said. “Thanks.”

And as he started along the aisle towards the rest of the choir he was glad to be safely in the one place he knew neither Tyler Smith or any of the other Kaddy Boys would come looking for him.

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Warning: contains explicit language and content. Recommended for readers aged 15+.

Victim: Teenage female, 14 years old. Unconcious. Head Injury. Laceration to arm. Struck by lorry.

Why was Ashleigh Jarvis running so fast that she didn't see the lorry? Why was she so scared? And why was she barefoot on a cold winter's evening?

It's Holly Blade's first case and she wants to know the truth. But how much is she willing to risk?

First in an arresting new series from BAFTA award-winning writer, Chris Ould.

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Book information

Lexile Measure
Accelerated Reader level
4.5 UY

Author information

Chris Ould

Chris Ould was first published as a novelist for adults before going on to become a BAFTA-winning screenwriter, writing for television dramas including The Bill, Casualty, Soldier Soldier and Hornblower. Street Duty is his first book series for young adults.

Reader reviews

Read the following reviews or write one of your own.

“Case One: Knock Down”
Being just a few years older than Holly, and having actually actively tried to get an apprentice job, I can say that her feelings of being one, and her experience being an apprentice as a TPO was very real to me. Apprenticeships are very valuable and you can tell they do a lot of work by this book! TPOs shouldn't feel bad - they are amazing! I could clearly visualise the Cadogan Estate. Drugs, vandalism and rape. It's all very true, cold, cold Britain. I think the sequel will be just as good, especially as Holly grows up.
“A shocking twist”
In the first book of this YA crime series, Holly and Sam- a pair of sixteen year old trainee police officers- deal with the case of a fourteen year old who was knocked down by a lorry. Ould's portrayal of youth crime pulls no punches and the pacing is excellent. However, his greatest talent lies in his dialogue; from the rough Cadogan estate to the police station, every line of speech tells us something insightful about the setting and people. With well-developed characters and a shocking twist at its climax, Case One will leave teens breathless for the next book.
“Fantastically portrays real youth crime”
Street Duty, Case One: Knock Down by Chris Ould is a gripping crime novel that focuses on Ashleigh Jarvis, the victim of a road traffic collision, and the TPO Holly Blades who wants to discover the truth about what happened. The use of regular policing jargon makes this novel seem extremely realistic. The dark and atmospheric backgrounds of these troubled teenagers fantastically portrays real youth crime, it is an aspect of life that many can relate and agree to. The multiple intriguing perspectives kept me guessing. Overall, a fast-moving puzzler that is perfect for crime novel lovers!
Street Duty had me hooked within the first page. It is realistic, gripping, and knowledgeable. It contains lots of conflict and switches between different stories which makes the plot more interesting. I thought this book was amazing and I guarantee that anyone will like it, despite what genre is usually preferred. I would give this book a 4 out of 5 and would recommend this book to any young adult. I can't wait to read the next one!
“Fast-paced, unpredictable and enjoyable”
Street Duty contains all of the key elements of successful teenage fiction, comprising of action, relatable characters and an unpredictable plot. However, the factor that sets this novel apart is that Chris Ould writes realistically for a mature audience, rather than patronising teenage readers. Holly, the teenage protagonist of the book, is given adult responsibilities and a self-righteous attitude, and although she is often subject to age discrimination, Ould uses her character to recognise that young people are often underestimated. The use of multiple narratives and plot twists make the novel fast-paced, unpredictable and enjoyable from beginning to end.
“Realistically portrays youth crime”
Ambition and the lack of it are seemingly the two key themes in Chris Ould's Knock Down, a fast paced and moving novel which realistically portrays the controversial topic of youth crime in British society without making it appear more glamorous and appealing to his teenage audience. The contrast between the driven protagonist Holly Blades and the seemingly good for nothing youths on the estate is vital, encouraging motivation and discouraging the behavior which many teenagers today are stereotyped for. Although some issues in the novel are left unresolved, Ould makes up for this with his page turning style and surprising turn of events.
“A thrilling fast paced novel”
Street Duty Case one: Knock down is a thrilling fast paced novel about crime in the modern world. The novel really is a page turner that keeps the reader engrossed from page one. I loved how easy it was to bond with the characters. Holly was my personal favourite. It was great to have a young adult crime novel with a female heroine! The multiple perspectives kept the book quick moving and kept the reader guessing. It was written so perfectly and it's wrapped up nicely at the end. I cannot wait to read the next adventures of the TPOs!
“Brash, fearless, suspense-ridden”
As soon as I read the first line I was hooked, Chris Ould possesses a unique talent of arousing questions in the reader's mind to keep them reading on. The book consists of rough-edged characters and short fast-paced chapters with alternating perspectives. At the start this format confused me but I got used to it as I read further on, plus it never took my attention of the drama going on in the story. This book is a brash, fearless, suspense-ridden crime fiction novel and I would recommend it for 15 year olds and over. Can't wait for the next!
“A very enjoyable read!”
Chris Ould's new book explores the realities of youth crime. His research into the subject is apparent; there is much to be learnt from the numerous details which make the story feel realistic. The characters are appropriately likeable and dislikeable, although sometimes feel underdeveloped - we're told tantalisingly little about Holly's life outside the TPO scheme for instance. Hopefully this shall be further explored in the next book, which I expect to be equally as gripping. The plot develops well and the twists are effective, as are the subplots which skilfully weave themselves into the narrative. A very enjoyable read!
“An irresistible page turner”
A shocking portrayal of teen crime, Chris Ould paints a realistic picture of youth immorality. The target audience is able to relate to the characters; I especially love Holly's "never give up" attitude and resilience to whatever is thrown her way. The refreshing twists and turns in regards to characters' motives, and the changes of perspectives throughout the story add to the pacing, making it an irresistible page turner. I cannot wait to sink my teeth into the next one after having devoured this gutsy, electric, hypnotic book. Lovers of teen crime will find their new obsession.

Press reviews

“The way this novel is put together works really well. I thought I'd figured out how [it] would fit together and then was pleasantly surprised to see that I wasn't quite right... The characters are realistic and for a teen novel this book is a breath of fresh air as there is no love interest involving the main character... It's great to have a crime novel that is written specifically for teenagers.”
“A brilliant, down-to-earth crime drama which brings the unforgiving and harsh world of street policing into new focus for the younger generation. Hard-hitting, challenging and explicit, it is compelling reading for teens aged 15 and over.”
“Takes readers into the seedy and dangerous world of council estate gangs and crime, all seen through the candid eyes of a teenager trying to make her mark.”
“This well researched story gives us an insight into the violent underbelly of London society, the story being told from a variety of perspectives.”
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