Real Life Line of Duty

Before Ted Hastings and his team made AC12 famous on BBC One’s Line of Duty, there were the real cops tasked with catching “bent copper pieces”.

Bent Coppers: Crossing the Line of Duty investigates corruption in the police force in the 1970s.

Here is everything you need to know about the real line of duty.


Bent Coppers: Crossing the Line of Duty features ex-London detective Lew Tassell (Image Credit: BBC Two)

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Real Life Line of Duty: What is it about?

Bent Coppers: Crossing the Line of Duty will air on Wednesday April 14, 2021 on BBC Two.

The series examines police corruption in the 1970s using archive clips combined with new interviews.

Former police officers tell the story of the real line of duty team.

They formed when a network of corrupt officers did immense damage and ruined lives.

Viewers hear a 1969 recording of a Met detective telling a South London criminal, “If we find out you’ve done something, we want a stake.”

Who was the real AC12?

The first anti-corruption squad was formed in the early 1970s.

The first in-house anti-corruption unit, A10, was created to fight a secret network of officials operating illegally across London.

This unit inspired the BBC drama Line of Duty.

First and foremost, the story begins in 1969 when a criminal from south London gave the Times newspaper a lead of police corruption.

A Metropolitan Police detective blackmailed him for money.

“Blacks and the working class were easy choices,” says an ex-copper.

The first episode hears about the former DCS John Simmonds (picture), who secretly recorded the shady plans of his colleagues.

John Simmonds on Bent Coppers
John Simmonds was one of the first officers to investigate police corruption (Credit: BBC Two).

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Who Was John Simmonds?

John Simmonds is a distinguished former detective who served in the Metropolitan Police.

He joined the Met in 1956 and became a detective sergeant at New Scotland Yard.

He then moved to the Flying Squad, a branch of the Serious Organized Crime Command nicknamed “The Sweeney”.

John investigated Hugh Moore, then the third most senior officer in the force, suspected of being involved in corruption.

In 1969 the troops were shocked by an exposé in the Times that exposed corruption within the CID. A leading lawyer compared this to “catching the archbishop in bed with a prostitute”.

John Simmonds, known in the force as honest copper, has been asked to head a brand new anti-corruption unit.

He said, “I was instructed to do it […] It was a lazy job. It wasn’t something that you strived for.

“There was an attitude of suspicion. People treated us with a certain degree of reluctance.

“But I’ve always said no honest copper would treat you that way. There is always someone to worry about. “

What was Unit A10?

By the early 1970s, CID had built a reputation for accepting bribes, sewing up innocent people, and running protective thugs.

Finally, Sir Robert Mark decided it was time to clean things up.

In 1971 he founded A10, an independent unit in the Met, to investigate their own.

As a result, the device was not very popular.

The unit investigated corrupt officials, with John Simmonds running the detective department.

Most notably, the A10 has eradicated corruption within the police force and sparked dozens of law enforcement actions.

As a result of the A10, 500 “bad apples” were finally removed from the troops.

Sir Robert Mark founded the A10 in 1971 (Photo credit: BBC Two)
Sir Robert Mark founded the A10 in 1971 (Photo credit: BBC Two)

Is ‘H’ based on a real person?

John Simmonds reveals that they had NO undercover cops with the police and that there was also no H-figure like in Line of Duty.

He says, “These are the realms of the imagination – to a certain extent.

“There is no comparison in the real world.

“We didn’t play and act like they do.

“This mysterious business of ‘H’ is nonsense.

“We knew who the crooked coppers were.”

Most notably, the real A10 exposed Hugh Moore.

In contrast to his role as the commander of the City of London Police, he was actually “bent and crooked”.

Bent Coppers: Crossing borders – how many parts are there?

The documentary series consists of three parts.

It will initially start on Wednesday, April 14, 2021.

The following second installment will follow on Wednesday, April 21, 2021.

In addition, the third and final episode will be broadcast on Wednesday, April 28, 2021.

Jackie Malton
A10 officer Jackie Malton reports on Bent Coppers: Crossing the Duty (Credit: BBC Two)

How can I watch the series?

The series airs Wednesdays on BBC Two.

Each episode can be viewed immediately after the iPlayer.

The entire six series of Jed Mercurio’s Line of Duty can also be viewed on the iPlayer.

Who is telling the BBC Two Show?

Philip Glenister tells Bent Coppers: Crossing the Duty on BBC Two.

TV viewers will of course recognize Philip by his role as Gene Hunt in Life on Mars and Ashes to Ashes.

He also portrayed James Trenchard in Belgravia, Quinn in Mad Dogs, and Mal Pemberton in Living the Dream.

Bent Coppers: Crossing the Line of Duty begins Wednesday April 14, 2021 on BBC Two.

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