Nicholas Angel, an extremely dedicated police officer in London's Metropolitan Police Service, performs his duties so well that he is accused of making his colleagues look bad. As a result, his superiors transfer him to crime-free Sandford, a village in rural Gloucestershire. Once there, he immediately arrests a large group of underage drinkers and a drunk driver, who turns out to be his eventual partner, Danny Butterman, the son of local police inspector Frank Butterman. Danny, a well-meaning but naive police constable, is in awe of his new partner. Angel struggles to adjust to the slow, uneventful pace of the village. Despite clearing up several otherwise unnoticed crimes in short order, including confiscating a sea mine and a number of unlicensed firearms, Angel soon finds his most pressing concern to be an escaped swan. His strict attention to the letter of the law also makes him the focus of dislike by some of his co-workers. However, Angel and Danny eventually bond over drinks at the local pub and action films.
A series of gruesome deaths rock the village and all are labeled as accidents. Angel, believing the deaths to be murders, begins to investigate. He arrests Simon Skinner, the manager of a supermarket, of suspicion of murdering the victims due to their involvement in a lucrative property deal. However, Skinner is able to provide plausible explanations for all of Angel's charges and goes free.
When Angel returns to his hotel room and is attacked by a cloaked figure, he knocks the attacker unconscious, discovering it is a supermarket employee sent by Skinner. Angel heads to a nearby castle where he discovers the truth: Skinner, Inspector Butterman, and the Neighbourhood Watch Alliance (NWA), intent on keeping Sandford's title of "Village of the Year", have been murdering anyone who they saw as a threat to the village's charming image. As Angel flees, he discovers the bodies of various people disposed of by the NWA, and escapes with the assistance of Danny.
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