HE is a police officer who uses his imagination to dream up unorthodox ways to tackle crime.

Now Steve Colgan, a member of Scotland Yard’s specialist team, the Problem Solving Unit, has launched a new career as an author.

The 47-year-old Hazlemere resident, an officer with the Met for 30 years, originally joined the force for a bet, but ended up working for one of the most unusual units.

Cornish-born Mr Colgan’s team tackle problems that don’t respond to normal police methods and aim to get to the root cause.

Issues can be anything from robberies to people who let their dogs foul the streets.

One high profile problem the father-of-three helped successfully solve was that of noisy clubbers in Enfield.

The solution was to give away bags containing water, for dehydration, lollipops to prevent clubbers shouting, and condoms to address sexual health.

Mr Colgan, who is also an illustrator and lecturer in metacognition (the study of thinking), said the lollipop idea was triggered by somone saying why don’t they ‘stick a cork in their mouths’.

“It all sounds very silly to start with but when you start talking with the local authorities it starts becoming not such a bad idea,” said Mr Colgan.

“The ideas I like best are the ones that are simple but work wonderfully well.”

To hear Steve talk about his book click the player below (running time eight minutes approx).

Mr Colgan, who lives with wife Dawn, said writing is a lifelong passion. His creative instinct first took him to art and design college in Cornwall, however, he dropped out after seeing students struggle to find paid work.

A talk from his worried father, a detective, steered him towards the police especially when he bet him £50 he couldn’t do it.

In the police, as well as working for the unit, Mr Colgan has also been involved with many high-speed car chases and was barraged with petrol bombs during the miners’ strike.

With retirement looming, he decided to pursue his love of writing. The idea for his book, Joined Up Thinking, received a ringing endorsement from actor Stephen Fry, after Mr Colgan e-mailed him some extracts, leading to a link up with the makers behind the hit BBC2 show QI.

The book takes readers on a twisting journey of interconnected facts and trivia with subjects ranging from the number seven, through to the Flintstones, Swiss Cheese, David Bowie, Nazis and Giant Sloths.

To hear Steve talk about his work in the police click the player below (running times two minutes approx)

“It’s a chain of association that leads back to where it started,” said Mr Colgan. “There’s lots of facts in there that people haven’t heard of, but also things they are aware of, but didn’t how they were connected.”