The Sweeney: set up to tackle crime in the fast lane
Wednesday 28 January 1998
Ever since the Seventies series the Metropolitan Police have tried to dispel the image of officers screeching around in Ford Granadas, willing to bend the rules to get results. But the unit's reputation took a further battering yesterday with the raids on 14 serving detectives and five retired officers, who have all served with the Flying Squad.
The unit was set up in 1919 to tackle racketeers, extortionists and burglars in London's suburbs. Instead of being attached to one district or division, it was designed to be mobile. The unit was coined the Flying Squad by a reporter and became known as the Sweeney - from the cockney rhyming slang Sweeney Todd.
The squad was at the forefront of crime detection. It was the first to be given radios and cars, go undercover and develop the supergrass system. Among its most famous cases were the 1963 Great Train Robbery and the theft of gold bullion from Brink's-Mat 20 years later. But with increased respect came claims of corruption. A former head of the Flying Squad, Kenneth Drury, was jailed for eight years in 1977 for accepting a pair of gold cufflinks from a jailed Soho pornographer, James Humphreys.
Following the drop in bank robberies, Scotland Yard considered disbanding the squad but it was given a reprieve last year. Today it has about 170 officers - about half are authorised to carry firearms.
- Jason Bennetto
- 1 Astrological signs are almost all wrong, as movement of moon and sun throws out zodiac
- 2 Dad eats daughter's weed brownies, thinks he's had a stroke
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Germanwings captain Patrick Sondenheimer tried to break into locked cockpit door 'with an axe' as plane was descending
Amanda Knox murder conviction: Italian court overturns verdict for US student and Raffaele Sollecito in the killing of Meredith Kercher
Saudi Arabia says it won't rule out building nuclear weapons
The battle for the Middle East's future begins in Yemen as Saudi Arabia jumps into the abyss
Jeremy Clarkson 'could be given minder' ahead of a potential Top Gear return
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...