Sir Robert Mark (R) set up anti-corruption unit A-10 in 1971 (Picture: BBC)
BBC’s Bent Coppers: Crossing the Line of Duty has captivated viewers with its story of how the Met Police’s first ever anti-corruption unit was formed.
Episode two of the documentary, which is airing as a counterpart to drama Line of Duty, explained that police corruption was rife in the 1960s and 70s, with many officers focusing in on the pornography trade.
Some officers, including those in the Obscene Publication Squad, which was formed after the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and meant to root out material which was deemed indecent, and the Flying Squad, a branch of the Serious and Organised Crime Command, were thought to have had particularly large numbers of corrupt officers.
Corrupt officers were known to aid the selling of pornography, with the ‘dirty bookshop’ owners being warned in advance if a raid was planned on their shop.
In 1971, seven days after he took charge of the Met Police as Commissioner, Sir Robert Mark set up the anti-corruption unit A-10, in a bid to weed out bent coppers.
In scenes that will seem very familiar to Line of Duty fans after Steve Arnott (Martin Compston) was enlisted into AC-12, Mark filled A-10 with trusted officers – but officers in the unit weren’t trusted by other coppers.
Sir Robert Mark vowed to weed out bent coppers (Picture: BBC)
John Simmonds, who was a Detective Superintendent for A-10 (basically the Ted Hastings/Adrian Dunbar of the Met Police) said in the doc: ‘I got the call-up to go to A-10.
‘In one breath I was obviously pleased, but I wasn’t happy that I was going to spend my time day in, day out, with the bad side of the police service.
‘There was no let-up, there was no fun side to it at all. It was sad that it was necessary.’
‘Other officers wanted to ignore you, wanted nothing to do with you,’ Simmonds added. ‘They didn’t trust you. You were seen as the bad people.’
John Simmonds was a Detective Superintendent for A-10 (Picture: BBC)
Jackie Malton, a Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) in the Metropolitan Police, recalled that A-10 ‘would come to police stations unannounced, then they would go through the CID offices and do what they called bin-spins, so you would have your bin on your desk, your trays on your desk, and then they would just sweep everything up.
‘They were a force to be reckoned with.’
In particular, Mark had his eye on the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), with a former officer in the unit recalling the Commissioner giving a brutal speech.
Describing the department as ‘routinely corrupt,’ he said he would get rid of the unit as a whole if needed.
Line of Duty follows a similar anti-corruption unit, AC-12 (Picture: BBC)
Later asked if he had ‘threatened’ to put all the CID officers back into uniform if it was necessary, Mark responded: ‘I don’t regard that as a threat. I looked upon it simply as a managerial statement of fact.’
Under Mark’s reign, Commander Ken Drury, the former head of the Flying Squad, quit the force, after it was revealed that he had been working with known criminal and ‘pornography king’ Jimmy Humphries – and had even enjoyed a holiday with him.
Corrupt senior officers of the CID were also replaced with trusted uniformed officers.
Four years after investigations into the pornography industry began, A-10 arrested numerous officers accused of corruption.
‘A-10’s investigation results in 18 officers being sentences to more than 100 years in prison,’ the documentary said.
‘Over a five year period, Robert Mark and A-10 flushed out something like 500 detectives,’ it went on.
Line of Duty, which stars the likes of Vicky McClure (Kate Fleming), Martin (Steve Arnott) and Adrian (Ted Hastings), follows the officers of AC-12 as they investigate corrupt officers within the Central Police force.
BBC’s Bent Coppers: Crossing the Line of Duty returns Wednesday at 9pm on BBC Two.
Credit: Original article published here.