STANDING at a petite 5ft 2in, Danni Brooke is a self-confessed “typical Essex girl” who grew up loving “sunbeds, over-plucked eyebrows and French manicures”.
But looks can be deceiving. The 39-year-old mum of two is a former undercover cop who has taken down 6ft crack addicts, fought off sexual assaults by drug dealers and, in her late twenties, posed as a schoolgirl to catch a prolific paedophile.
6Former undercover cop Danni Brooke says her undercover police job put her life in dangerCredit: COLIN HUTTON6Danni’s role was to attract criminals who were often violentCredit: GettyNow Danni, who has also appeared in Channel 4 reality show Hunted, has detailed her extraordinary exploits in a new book, The Girl For The Job, becoming the first female undercover cop to do so.
Ahead of its publication she tells The Sun that, despite being a young mum at the time, her mission to put sex offenders and drug dealers behind bars meant she rarely considered the consequences.
She says: “I could have been killed but I didn’t realise it was dangerous at the time.
“I was being told I was doing such a great job, that I was brilliant — and if you’re told that all the time you don’t think about the danger.”
Danni, who left the Met in 2013 after ten years of service, says she is saddened to see the force go into special measures, after a torrent of allegations of misogyny and racism.
The organisation’s reputation has been tarnished by high-profile cases such as the murder of Sarah Everard by serving officer Wayne Couzens in 2021, and ex-officer David Carrick, jailed for life this month for a series of rapes and sex assaults.
Danni says: “Nobody hates a bad cop as much as a good cop does.
“The officers who did those things are the worst people on the planet, and abused a position of trust.
“But what’s really frustrating is that everybody takes a view that the whole of the police are like that, and that’s awful to see.
“Policing used to be a job of pride, a job of trust. Now people have lost all respect for the police. It’s going to be hard to get that back.”
6Danni has detailed her extraordinary exploits in a new book – pictured in police uniformCredit: SUPPLIEDDagenham-born Danni, who originally wanted to be a defence lawyer, was just 18 when she joined the Met.
While still on uniform beat in Tower Hamlets, East London — and two months pregnant — she fought a 6ft “crackhead” who was attacking her colleague Mick.
She recalls: “We were chasing an erratic driver and he crashed into a parked cab.
“The passengers had severe injuries but the driver got out and ran.
“Mick caught him and was fighting him, and the guy was gnawing on his arm so I kicked him in the face, knocking out some of his teeth, and he reeled backwards. I hadn’t told anyone I was pregnant.”
Danni progressed to plain-clothed patrols in nearby Shadwell, with the less conspicuous outfits making it easier to spot drug dealers and people selling stolen goods.
Her impressive arrest figures soon caught the eye of SO10, the Met’s covert intelligence unit, and she was asked to train as a Test Purchase Officer, a level below undercover officers, whose job is to buy drugs and other contraband on the streets to nail dealers and gangs.
She learned how to make a wrap for cocaine, how to “cook” heroin and tell fake drugs from real ones.
She says: “Everyone on the course had different specialities, and because of where I’m from and what I looked like, mine was infiltration of gangs, drugs and sex crimes.
“Others knew about fine art or spoke several languages but my niche was the crap end of the deal, hanging out with the most horrible people in society.”
6Danni posed as a schoolgirl dressed like this to help the force catch a prolific paedophileCredit: ShutterstockIn her first covert job, Danni faced serious assault after buying crack from a violent North London dealer.
She says: “I got the crack and I was proud of myself. I thought I was going to skip back to the safety location, hand my drugs over and go home. But the dealer had other ideas and wanted to walk with me.
“I told him I had a boyfriend who would kill me, but he wasn’t concerned.
“He asked where the crack was and I told him I’d ‘plugged’ it — put it inside me — because I didn’t want him to have it.
“But he grabbed my ponytail and pulled me down the alley and demanded I do a sex act on him.
“Suddenly a van pulled up at the end of the alley and I thought, ‘Oh, God, what now?’ I was in shock and didn’t know what was happening.
“Then a guy came running down the alley, called me a ‘f***ing sl+g’ and slapped my face and I realised it was a colleague from the safety briefing who was pretending to be my boyfriend.
“I’d forgotten I was wearing a wire so they could hear everything.
“The dealer looked at the officer, let go of my hair and apologised to him — not to me.
“I got in the van, thinking, ‘That was really bad’. But you go back to the station and everyone says, ‘That was brilliant. You’ve done so well’, so you carry on.”
At the time, Danni was already mum to daughter Amelia, then five months, with fellow officer Tom — who she never told about her covert work.
She says: “Being a mum probably should have made me stop but I didn’t have the best marriage so any excuse to go to work, I did. I could escape real life by slipping into my pretend life.”
To look the part of an addict, Danni roughed up her clothes and made them smell bad by lighting cigarettes, frying bacon and drying them in an old bin bag.
Pose as a schoolgirl
She says: “I have white, straight teeth and don’t naturally look the part, so a lot of the time I would look skanky, but not skanky enough to be a heroin or crack user.
“I often said the drugs were for my boyfriend, which was useful because I was young and petite, and that also stopped them from trying to touch me or asking me for sexual favours in return for drugs, which happens a lot.”
She once avoided having to take cocaine in a pub by telling a dealer she was “too much of a lady” to snort in front of him.
But it was two weeks of standing at a chilly North London bus stop in a skimpy school uniform that is Danni’s proudest achievement.
Though nearly 30, she was asked to try to catch a paedophile who had committed more than 100 assaults on kids as young as 12.
She says: “At the safety briefing, they chucked the uniform at me.
“You can imagine the laughter, as I’m a grown woman and a mother, dressed in a tiny checked skirt, over-the-knee socks and blazer.
“I’ve done hundreds of decoy jobs and never had a result so I didn’t expect it to work.
“But I stood at the bus stop for two hours at a time. On the last day I saw a man looking at me, but because I had been shocked at the number of men who heckle schoolgirls every day, I didn’t think anything of it.
6Danni even learned to ‘cook’ heroin on a spoonCredit: Getty“My phone rang and the senior investigating officer told me we were ending the job.
“I went to walk away and the man grabbed me from behind, pulled me to the ground and got on top of me, exposing himself.
“The safety team swooped in about 30 seconds, although it felt a lot longer to me.”
They later discovered he was a convicted sex offender who also had a wife and children, as well as a pregnant mistress.
Danni received a commissioner’s commendation for her role in the arrest — but the words of one victim’s mother meant far more.
She says: “One of the mums wrote me the most incredible letter saying her daughter doesn’t wet the bed any more, no longer needs sleeping tablets and was almost back to her normal self.”
After splitting from Tom, in 2011 Danni had a son, Albert, with fellow undercover officer Christian Plowman, who has also written about his experiences.
It was then that she began to question her role. Danni says: “I did go back to work after my son but that was definitely the point where I thought, ‘What am I doing?’ I probably just grew up and decided this is really stupid.”
When Christian was offered a highly-paid job in France, Danni left the Met and they moved there.
Soon afterwards she was offered the TV role in Hunted, as one of four expert “hunters”, and around the same time, her relationship with Christian ended.
On the show she fell for co-star Ben Owen, a former intelligence officer, and the couple now divide their time between Britain, Spain and Australia, where he appears in the Aussie version of Hunted.
Danni now runs Digital Bodyguards, a cyber security company she set up after helping a footballer who was being blackmailed by girls he had slept with on tour.
She says of her life with Ben: “We joke that he’s Bond and I’m Bourne.”
The Girl For The Job: True Stories From My Life As An Undercover Cop, by Danni Brooke, (Macmillan) will be out on March 2, £16.99.
6Danni’s book ‘Girl For The Job’ reveals first-hand accounts of her time undercoverCredit: Supplied
Story Credit: thesun.co.uk