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The National Association of educational broadcasters in cooperation with the British Information Services presents a window on the world a tape recorded series of talks by eminent British citizens. This week our speaker is Mr. Robin Flynn a newspaper correspondent broadcaster and author. His talk is called Scotland Yard dial 9 9 9. Here now is Mr. Robin Flynn. A few years ago the president of the International Criminal Police Commission a Belgian declared we look upon Scotland Yard as a model for Detective forces throughout the world. No British representative on the commission could have made such a statement. Proud as they are of their yard British police officials are diffident about blowing their own horn. And yet it is generally acknowledged that the Criminal Investigation Department of Scotland Yard is as efficient modern and successful a force as there is anywhere. Now 77 years old the
Criminal Investigation Department the see ID as it is known was originally modeled on the French search team. It soon developed its own characteristics and pioneered its way through a long list of facts. It had its first telephone in 1887. Today at peak periods it received twenty three hundred calls an hour. It originated the fingerprinting of criminals early in this century and now has more than a million sets of prints on file. A collection that increases at the rate of 50000 sets a year. The British a poisoner Crippen was the first criminal to be caught with the aid of radio. The yard's forensic science laboratory was established more than 20 years ago. Here are some of the most remarkable examples of deductive interpretive and scientific analyses carried out by experts in chemistry biology physics and mineralogy and their map room is unique. More than 300 types of crime a minute charted on
4000 square feet of wall map of the London area. The yard policy of educating the public to dial 999. The special police call number that is was an innovation that helped break the post-war crime wave. The crime laboratory specializing in micro photography colored luminosity that's for forgery detection spectrograph analysis and other techniques is constantly enlisting the most advanced methods and equipment. And proof of the yacht's efficiency is its record of success. Relatively few crimes go unpunished during the past 60 years. Britain has averaged some 130 murders a year out of which roughly a quarter of that is about 30 take place in the London area. In 1950 two out of 28 London murders only two cases remained unsolved. The yard's team Mark is responsible for much of the success in the infamous and gruesome Christine murder case about two years ago for example
where four bodies were uncovered inside the house and it was suspected more were buried in the back yard. The problem was to piece together in the den to fry the bits of buried skeletons. It was a job requiring all levels of police work from the perspiring constable who turned the soil to the scientist who pieced together the fragments of bone. The Home Garden was dug over down to the undisturbed to play every handful of soil was put through saves so that no scrap of evidence could be missed. Bones have clothes and pieces of newspaper were carefully collected for assembly. One skull had to be reconstructed from 92 tiny pieces of bone. But from this reconstruction anatomists were able to say that the skeletons were those of two women who had been buried fully closed her nine to 10 years before. One was about 21 years old and probably came from Central Europe. The other was between 30 and 34 and about 5 feet 2 inches tall.
Scotland Yard referred to it a missing persons register and from there is the C ID stablished that a young Viennese refugee named Ruth fast had disappeared in August one thousand forty three. And about 18 months later a 32 year old woman named E.T. had left her aunt's home saying I shan't be late and was never seen again. The D woman was wearing a black frock and the remains of a black silk dress could be distinguished among the bones. Confronted with these facts Christie confessed to all six murders. The Criminal Investigation Department is so famous as a detective force that people are surprised generally to learn it is only a small part of Scotland Yard which is the headquarters of London's Metropolitan Police Force. There are 20000 men in the metropolitan police but only fourteen hundred in the sea ID including 600 experts. And contrary to general belief Scotland Yard covers
only the London area and not the whole of England. The London area is a circle roughly 30 miles in diameter excluding the mile square city in the heart of the capital which has its own force. The yard helps of crime in other parts of the country only if called upon at the yard. See ID men run the criminal record office the famous rogues gallery which contains complete records of all persons convicted of serious crime in Britain. The aliases and the methods they use and how they look and behave. They are also in charge of the fingerprint department and know their subject so well that recently retired Chief Superintendent chatter for instance could walk into an office where a safe had been robbed. Look through his magnifying glass at their fingerprint on the safe and say yes that's light fingered Harry. Incidentally a prisoner who is exonerated of his crime has his fingerprint records destroyed. See I demand work with the chemists and
physicists of the forensic science laboratory to whom was once brought a single clue of a chip of paint about the size of a thumbnail. It had been spotted on the road where a cyclist had been killed by a hit and run motorist and from it the scientists were able to say that the paint came from a car originally black repainted once in rather a houri painted again three times since and now Black once more. The local police recalled a car owner in their neighborhood who was always having bumps and needing his fenders repainted and he proved to be the one to drive. Another very famous branch of the Criminal Investigation Department is the flying squad. A quiet man with shrewd eyes who spend much of their time on the watch in unlikely places looking like part of the scenery and listening listening. Always what they hear is sometimes extremely inconvenient to criminals. Flying Squad officers go to extraordinary lengths in
their jobs. It was a flying squad detective sergeant Deans who posed as the manager of a bank which the squad had been tipped off or was going to be raided. Dean's knowing that he was being followed and shortly going to be attacked walked to his fate with cool courage. He was beaten up and left for dead in a snow drift. But when the bank robbers arrived at the bank with the keys they had taken from Dean's the flying squad was there waiting for them. Also flying squad men expect drivers able to bump a fleeing auto into the curb or tail it unnoticed in a queue car. That is a disguised taxi cab or truck or a harmless looking milk wagon with a souped up engine. They are rough and tumble commando types able to give a very good account of themselves in any brawl. There is also a ghost squad attached to the yard. These men live in the underworld as part of it. They think you can talk and dress like the denizens and their reports are made quietly and
quickly over the telephone in code. Didn't the most desperate lawbreaking criminals in Britain seldom carry guns. Of course neither do the police. It was a police inspector armed only with his experience of football who flung himself into a killer gunman one DONALD THOMAS already wanted for shooting one policeman. Thomas had a loaded gun in his hand when the inspector tackled him captured him and occasionally gangster methods tried even in Britain. You know 1946 it was the celebrated anti Chris murder. Three masked gunmen had attempted to hold up a jeweler in a busy London section. They beat the director of the store unconscious but before he passed out he managed to slam the safe door shut. The gangsters then demanded the keys from a 70 year old sales clerk. He replied by throwing a heavy wooden stool at them. They shot at him but missed. More
assistants rushed to the rescue and the gunman then fled. But it and a lot of motorcyclists seeing the fleeing for years and noticing their guns drove his machine across their path in an effort to slow them up. This was Mr. Alex day and decrease and he was the father of six children. But the gunman shot him through the head and then disappeared in the crowd. The hunt was on. Because of the conflicting descriptions received from eye witnesses Scotland Yard at first had no clue were told to go on. The phrase break came when a discarded rain coat and scarf were discovered in a nearby office building. Through this the owner was traced to an address in a section near London Bridge. He claimed advised that his coat had been stolen and then he said his brother in law had borrowed it. No though morally certain of the culprits three young neighbor neighborhood toughs one of them the brother in law of the code owner. Conclusive evidence was difficult to assemble. It
required the combined efforts of the fingerprint department the forensic science laboratory the Palis ticks experts and fortunately a schoolboy who found the murder weapon in the river mud. The Criminal Record Office was also called in and a reference was necessary to a local occurrences book that you know is a written record kept at all police stations and then this odd occurrences are jotted down by the man on the beat. Even where no crime is involved and are often found to tie in later with some job under investigation. And the general hue and cry. That's an old British institution in which all the public joined in watching for a criminal was also raised in order to pick up an ex-con with information about one of the suspects. At last the cased seemed watertight. The three young gangsters one of them a teenager were then arrested and subsequently convicted and two of them were hanged. An interesting point about this
is that for weeks after the execution police were picking up discarded guns and ash barrels in bombed out sites behind park pushers or dredging them from rivers. Several known gangs found it safer to disperse and for a while there was a noticeable slowing up of crime. The death penalty in England seems to be a strong deterrent to the carrying of firearms and as few murderers escape arrest criminals in Britain generally find it far better to go unarmed. The police themselves of course scorn firearms relying on truncheons or night sticks. They believe that if they carry guns. Criminals would soon follow suit. So insistent is public opinion that there should be no misuse so force that patrolmen are required to account in writing every time that truncheons are taken in hand. Of course the police rarely have to worry of their nightsticks no for the matter of that. Are there many criminal gangs on the
British scene. They come and go occasionally to be sure but England is still the most exemplary law abiding land I know England well. And I don't know of a single place there where to hesitate a moment to walk about at noon or at midnight. Despite the fact that some of our TV shows lately seem to portray parts of London as they original old sink of iniquity which to use an old expression is hardly cricket. If you're thinking of taking a holiday in Britain I can assure you you needn't go armed. Most of you are familiar to some extent at least with Scotland Yard through the Conan Doyle stories of Sherlock Holmes and his adventures and misadventures with Inspector le Strad of the yard. These stories probably pull a good inspector's leg a bit too much and don't give a true view of the guard's efficiency and drama. However I hope this talk
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Window on the world
Robin Flynn
Producing Organization
British Information Services
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents a talk from Robin Flynn, a British newspaper correspondent, broadcaster, and author. Flynn's talk is titled "Scotland Yard: Dial 999."
Series Description
A series of short talks by well-known British personalities on the subjects usually associated with them.
Broadcast Date
Talk Show
Radio programs--United States.
Media type
Producing Organization: British Information Services
Speaker: Flynn, Robin
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 54-30-29 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:14:00
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Chicago: “Window on the world; Robin Flynn,” 1954-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 27, 2023,
MLA: “Window on the world; Robin Flynn.” 1954-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 27, 2023. <>.
APA: Window on the world; Robin Flynn. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from