The Greatest Detectives of Scotland Yard
Written by Mark Nichols
The fantastic reputation that is enjoyed by Scotland Yard internationally was forged by the hard work, dedication and incredible successes of the Criminal Investigation Department and by the devotion and commitment of its officers. Now a new book by veteran investigator and prolific author Dick Kirby has captured those tales in his new book, The Guv'nors: Ten of Scotland Yard's Greatest Detectives.
The ten intrepid crime-busters featured in this compelling book are outstanding examples of the kind of men who laid down the principles and working practices for many Scotland Yard departments and who then ensured their success through their own dedication and outstanding leadership qualities.
To say the detectives profiled in The Guv'nors achieved breathtaking accomplishments usually when the odds were stacked against them is no understatement. They were heroes at times when heroes were desperately needed. They thrived on wit and instinct which turned out to be a far more valuable crime-fighting tool than any academic degree or DNA database.
Their employment of informants and hunches, and their tireless pursuit of each tiny scrap of evidence, makes for fascinating reading and is much more immediate and visceral than the clinical, forensic-based investigations of today.
Included in this exceptional collection are: Fred Wensley, who was heavily involved in the hunt for Jack the Ripper before going on to form the Flying Squad; Fred Sharpe, who brutally and courageously confronted forty of the worst racetrack gangsters single-handedly; and Bert Wickstead, who literally terrorized the gangs which vied to fill the void left in London's East End by the Kray brothers' demise.
In a sharp contrast to their counterparts portrayed in literature and on the screen, these legendary detectives were feared yet grudgingly respected by even the toughest criminals. It's hard to imagine that these remarkable investigators can exist in these days of political correctness and obsession with technology.
The Guv'nors tells of a great era of great men, revealing in fascinating detail who the Big Five were, how the Flying Squad was formed and how some of their most famous grisly murders were successfully investigated. The author, Richard Kirby, was born in 1943 in Barking, East London. Following an utterly undistinguished secondary school education, he quit school at the age of fourteen.
Kirby joined the London Metropolitan Police in 1967. After an inauspicious beginning, he became a member of the Criminal Investigation Department and his career took off. Achieving top marks at the Detective Training School, passing the examination for detective sergeant and collecting the highest number of arrests for the whole of his division, he was appointed detective constable.
With a bare two years in the rank, Kirby was selected for the prestigious Serious Crime Squad and spent the next five years catching international crooks from all over the world. The Sweeney' - the Yard's Úlite Flying Squad - was his home for eight years where he dealt with the most formidable and violent armed robbers.
His career took him all over the United Kingdom; in fact, all over the world before ill-health forced his retirement in 1993. The doctor who treated Kirby said, "He was worn out." It was a career that showered him with compliments and commendations.
A judge at the Old Bailey described Kirby as being, 'one of the best detectives at Scotland Yard', a senior officer in Belfast noted that he was, 'a good man to have in an explosive situation' and commissioners, Directors of Public Prosecutions, judges and magistrates commended him for courage, determination and detective ability on forty occasions.
Kirby is the author of Rough Justice - Memoirs of a Flying Squad Detective (Merlin Unwin Books, 2001), The Real Sweeney (2005), You're Nicked! (2007) and Villains (2008).