I joined the Metropolitan Police in 1969 as a cadet. Three years earlier, three police officers had been murdered on the streets of Shepherds Bush. They were in what was known as a "Q" car and had stopped and checked a suspicious vehicle containing three equally suspicious men, something police officers do most days, assuming they see something suspicious or at least something fitting the modern definition of the meaning of `suspicious`, after it has been twiddled with by lawyers and politicians). On that occasion in 1966, the officers were spot on with their suspicions and, within minutes of their decision to stop and check the car, they were all dead, each having been murdered by gunshot. "Q" cars were crewed by an experienced detective sergeant, a sharp detective constable or Temporary DC (an officer who had shown particular acumen and who wanted to be a detective) and a constable as pilot, who was usually a grade 1 advanced driver. "Q" Cars were very effective anti crime units. The crew of Foxtrot 11 and the story of their murder affected, greatly, my generation of police officers.
In those days there was a crime fighting unit at Scotland yard known as The Flying Squad but universally referred to as "The Sweeney", as per Cockney rhyming slang Sweeney Todd = Flying Squad. There were lots of little jokes and anecdotes about this legendary unit. Eg: Have you seen the latest `Action Man` Flying Squad doll? It's suit is covered in cigarette ash, it smells of beer and scotch and when you pull the cord at the back, it says "Squad" out the corner of its mouth.
The Sweeney would turn up in all sorts of vehicles. Once I was at the front counter of Deptford police station when a bloke sidled in wearing a tatty jacket bearing the badge of a London taxi driver. He pulled out a warrant card and said, "Squad" out of the corner of his mouth, just like the aforementioned joke said he would. He was driving an authentic black London taxi cab, except I swear this one had twin exhausts and didn't sound like a diesel.
I was in the local area car one day when a call went out to support a Sweeney unit who had put out an odd call, requesting handcuffs. They had gone to arrest a man called John McVicar. A unit delivered said item as requested, but the strange thing was that the arresting officers were well tooled up with .38 revolvers so they were clearly expecting something interesting to happen. Funny how they forgot the 'cuffs? I always wanted to ask Mr McVicar about that. The Sweeney was a very effective and much feared anti serious crime unit.
Then there was the SPG. We always knew when `the group` were working our ground. Nobody actually told us, we just knew, because most of the regular street crime would come to an almost complete stop. The SPG was a very effective anti crime unit. We were almost as wary of them as we were the villains.
Anyone in the job out there know what the modern equivalents of the above are? If indeed they exist at all? Genuine question, I'd really like to know.
PS: Just in, this info on what the modern police officer has to contend with. Clearly I was right to leave as soon as my 30 was up: