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All Posts, True Crime

Author guest post: Dick Kirby

Killers, Kidnappers, Gangsters and Grasses

This is an ominous book.

Since the Metropolitan Police and I parted company 30 years ago, there has been a whole generation of police officers and from a public perception they have not covered themselves in glory.

It has not entirely been the fault of the rank and file; the chronic lack of leadership, experience and mismanagement has been to blame.  That, and the introduction of the Independent Office for Police Conduct who appear eager to judge every police officer guilty of any kind of offence before it’s even investigated, plus the useless, vacillating Crown Prosecution Service – the CPS – nicknamed ‘Couldn’t Prosecute Satan’.  With the ridiculous Police and Criminal Evidence Act that meant the clock started ticking as soon as a suspect was arrested, plus the CPS resulted in slowing down criminal justice to a snail’s pace.

It meant that the streets are awash with violent crime and police officers who should be controlling crime are often too busy reporting each other for making unkind comments.  If the perpetrators of rape or other serious crimes are actually prosecuted, it’s often years before their victims receive some kind of justice – and that’s not justice at all.

It was not always so.

During the period contained in this book – the 1960s onwards – there was camaraderie in the ranks, genuine mistakes could be rectified on the spot with a firm ticking-off and there was true leadership from senior officers who’d ‘been there and done it’.  Criminals were tracked down, arrested and convicted – often, on the same day.

Flying Squad officers worked with trusted informants so that criminals were arrested in the act of carrying out armed robberies; the robbers were frightened witless by ‘The Sweeney’ – with justification.

London was a happier place than it is now; so were the police.

I began by saying that this is an ominous book and, to people who believe that the sanctity of criminals’ ‘human rights’ and that anarchists should behave exactly as they like on the streets of London, it might be.

But although the Metropolitan Police of the 1960s was by no means perfect, the safety of Londoners was paramount; it isn’t now.  This is what it was like – you decide what you’d like.

Let me conclude with the words of wisdom, imparted to a friend of mine by the legendary ‘Fabian of the Yard’: ‘Treat your criminal hard, my boy.  He’s never heard of the Queensbury Rules and he’ll respect you all the more for it!’

Killers, Kidnappers, Gangsters and Grasses is available to order here.