Anti-corruption detectives have raided offices used by the Flying Squad after allegations of corruption by a Metropolitan Police officer charged with drug dealing and burglary.
Members of the Flying Squad - the unit that deals with armed robberies and gained notoriety through the 1970s television series The Sweeney - are accused of drug dealing, robbery and destroying evidence in return for bribes.
The investigation is concentrating on the Flying Squad, but other units of the Organised Crime Group are also expected to be examined.
The allegations were made by a 39-year-old detective, who, along with two other former Flying Squad officers, was charged earlier this month with breaking into the home of a drug dealer and with conspiracy to supply cannabis with a street value of pounds 500,000. The serving officer, who has turned informer, has been moved from prison to a safe house.
Last Friday, officers from Scotland Yard's Complaints Investigation Bureau CIB2 carried out an extensive search at the Flying Squad offices on an industrial estate in Walthamstow, east London. Dozens of files documenting current and past criminal investigations are believed to have been removed.
The allegations of corruption are understood to include officers pocketing drugs seized during raids and then selling them to dealers, removing valuables from scenes of crimes, and falsifying documents.
A police source confirmed that about 30 officers had been named by the informer. A second source described the inquiry as "potentially massive", "we're talking about allegations of serious, widespread corruption," said the source.
There are about 170 officers in the Flying Squad based in four London branch offices and at headquarters.
There have been discussions recently about breaking up the unit because the number of armed robberies has declined. Scotland Yard decided it should remain and extend its work to cover other types of crime. If widespread corruption is proved the future of the squad will be re-examined.
Sir Paul Condon, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, has estimated that up to 250 of his 27,000-strong force are corrupt.
The most recent inquiry stemmed from a CIB undercover surveillance operation that ended in the arrest of a 39-year-old detective with 18 years' service, and two former officers aged 40 and 37, who recently retired on medical grounds. The two are remanded in custody.
The three men are accused of breaking into a flat of a drug dealer in Silvertown, east London, and were charged last week with aggravated burglary and conspiracy to supply drugs. CIB allegedly have film which shows the officers breaking in.
In a second case involving Scotland Yard, CIB2 is examining allegations made by a former Metropolitan Police officer who claims former colleagues have been taking bribes, providing illegal documents and running police national computer checks for cash.Reuse content