Published: 00:01, 10 January 2019
Hunting fugitives around the UK in a battle against the clock is something few of us will ever experience.
But for Marc Cananur it has become a regular part of his life, not only in his day job as a detective sergeant for Kent Police but as a fugitive hunter in Channel 4’s gripping reality series Hunted.
The 45-year-old, who lives in Chartham with his family, features in the high-octane show - returning to screens tonight - as one of the "ground hunters".
He forms part of a crack team of world-class investigators whose aim is to catch ordinary people who have gone on the run, trying to evade capture for 28 days in a bid to win £100,000.
It is edge-of-your-seat viewing, but also a social experiment about how people behave under pressure and the balance between the country’s security and the public’s freedom.
Mr Cananur, who has been with the force since 1995, predominantly working in intelligence and now in the fraud squad, was selected by Channel 4 and Shine TV due to his extensive skillset, and has featured on every series since its inception in 2015.
He admits his wife is very patient. “I book all my annual leave from work and use it to go chasing ‘fugitives’ around the UK - it’s separate from my Kent Police work,” he says.
“The hunted are on the run for 28 days so it’s a long process.”
It’s tiring, too, he says, although hugely satisfying for everyone involved.
“The days are long, there is no glitz and glamour, you’re pushing yourself mentally and physically,” he said.
“We live out of a bag, going from hotel to hotel - there is real uncertainty about how each day is going to look.”
Mr Cananur says it is as close to reality as possible, with investigators using a combination of digital and cyber expertise.
“All we have upon the fugitives’ release are their names, addresses and dates of birth.
“We use all the techniques we would use in a real life situation to find them.
“We look at seized digital material from phones and computers, we have access to their bank - live and old transactions - and we interview friends and family who might hold vital information so we can find out who these people are that we’re following - whether that’s an Army veteran or social media guru.”
At the start of the show, however, there is a disclaimer explaining the hunters do not have access to CCTV or ANPR surveillance technology.
Mr Cananur says instead, the hunters can request replicated footage from a "referee" if they suspect where a fugitive is hiding.
“We’ll say we believe one of the fugitives might be in Canterbury high street, for example - then we can make a request for CCTV images but only if we are on the right track.”
Mr Cananur says the show is a fascinating social experiment to see if people can stay under the radar.
But despite its popularity, the Bafta-nominated show, which has also won a coveted Grierson Award, has come under fire from some critics who claim it is set up so the hunted are always found.
“Viewers can rest assured it’s not,” insists Mr Cananur.
“The programme is regulated by Ofcom, which means we have rules we have to adhere to.
“There will always be critics and the way it is edited means people may question it, but whatever you see is genuine.
“Some of the best critiques we get are from police officers. It’s got a big fanbase who really enjoy how well it’s depicted.”
The family man, who also works on BBC’s Crimewatch Roadshow, says it is a privilege to work on Hunted, particularly the celebrity version which helped raise £15 million for Stand Up To Cancer.
“My colleagues think it’s fun - they see me on TV one evening and then I’m at work the next morning.
“It’s like a parallel world. One moment you’re getting a Bafta nomination, the next I’m at my desk undertaking a complex case.”