Liverpool City Police

Det Sgt William Prendergast

by chris kelly, retired

William Prendergast was a career detective who spent 32 years in Liverpool City Police CID having joined the force in the 1920s and was one of the famous or possibly infamous “Anfield Harriers” in the Julia Wallace Murder enquiry of 1931.

A big granite face man and brilliant detective who was noted for his patience and interview technique. His files and methods of interrogation of criminals were used to train new up and coming detectives - “I never took a note when I was interrogating. The moment you got hold of a piece of paper they would think aha and zonk, they’d button up. I have a photographic memory so I just used to sit and let them go on talking until three, five, six o’clock in the morning. I've sat with them through the small hours and watched the moon go down and the sun come up and suddenly they’ve made the one slip and I’ve said “do you remember what you told me at eleven o’clock and now you say this. Alright, let’s start all over again……”

In 1959 Bill Prendergast retired from the Liverpool City Police and went to work for a bank before being approached by Colin Morris a screenwriter. Colin had met Bill a few years earlier when filming ”Tearaway” a crime dramatised documentary in Liverpool using Bill as an advisor. However this time, Colin wanted to make a comedy/drama mini series of 4 programmes called “Jacks and Knaves”, modelled upon some of Bill’s real crime investigations.

Next was the BBC series Z Cars and although Lancashire Police were advisors this time, Bill contributed various stories to the show, again based upon cases he had been involved with when a Detective in Liverpool.

Z cars became a hugely successful BBC television series centered on the Police area of “Newtown" and depicted the Ford Zephyr Police fast response car era of the 1960s along with the professional and private lives of the fictional Police Officers.

See also: Literature

Ford Zephyr 1965
Ford Zephyr police fast response car circa 1960

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