The Sweeney – Book Review

Better known as The Sweeney, Scotland Yard’s Flying Squad has had a tumultuous history.  Formed after the First World War, it quickly appreciated the value of high speed cars.  Taking on the might of the Racetrack gangs, armed robbers and smash and grab raiders; the Squad had considerable success from the very beginning.

Subsequent tales of horse doping, the Bank of America robbery and the Great Train Robbery captured the public’s imagination, leading to the creation of a popular television series which dramatized the concept of a flying squad. 

By far the most fascinating of their crime busting activities was the gold bullion raid in 1948 at the newly opened London Airport.  It was foiled by the Sweeney who were lying in wait for the would-be thieves.

What happened next was described by an Old Bailey Judge as ‘The battle of Heathrow’.  Dick Kirby writes with authority – he himself was once a member of the Flying Squad. Yet he does not ignore the problems which also beset it – particularly the corruption. 

This is a detailed account of an elite unit of the London police force, which brings alive many of the dramatic real life crime investigations from the 1930’s onwards.