Special Patrol Group

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The Special Patrol Group (SPG) was a unit of Greater London's Metropolitan Police Service, responsible for providing a centrally-based mobile capability for combating serious public disorder and crime that could not be dealt with by local divisions. [1]

Greater London County of England

Greater London is a ceremonial county of England that is located within the London region. This region forms the administrative boundaries of London and is organised into 33 local government districts—the 32 London boroughs and the City of London, which is located within the region but is separate from the county. The Greater London Authority, based in Southwark, is responsible for strategic local government across the region and consists of the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. The City of London Corporation is responsible for the local government of only the City of London.

Metropolitan Police Service territorial police force responsible for law enforcement in Greater London

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), formerly and still commonly known as the Metropolitan Police and informally as the Met, is the territorial police force responsible for law enforcement in Greater London, excluding the "square mile" of the City of London, which is policed by the much smaller City of London Police.

A division was the usual term for the largest territorial subdivision of most British police forces. In major reforms of police organisation in the 1990s divisions of many forces were restructured and retitled Basic Command Units (BCUs), although as of 2009 some forces continue to refer to them as divisions.

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The SPG was active from 1961 to 12 January 1987, being replaced by the Territorial Support Group (TSG).

The Territorial Support Group (TSG) is a Met Operations unit of London's Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). In 2012 it consisted of 793 officers and 29 support staff It specialises in public order containment, among other specialist policing. The TSG is a uniformed unit of the MPS that replaced the similarly controversial Special Patrol Group in 1987. TSG units patrol the streets of London in marked police vans or "carriers"; using the call sign "Uniform". Generally each carrier has an advanced (police) driver, five constables and a sergeant. Territorial Support Groups often comprise three carriers, eighteen constables, and three sergeants reporting to an Inspector. They separately patrol designated patches. When deployed, it is by the MPS Information Room. Due to the public order nature of their role often numerous carriers will be assigned, a common situation being drunken rowdiness at public house closing time. TSG officers can be identified as TSG from the distinctive "U" in their shoulder numbers.

History

The SPG recruited experienced officers capable of working as disciplined teams, either in uniform or in plain clothes preventing public disorder, targeting areas of serious crime, carrying out stop and searches, or providing a response to terrorist threats. It also conducted its own surveillance and was tasked with reducing the problem of burglaries. During the time it was active it had a dedicated radio channel and a fleet of vans to allow it to work independently of routine divisions.

Police officer warranted employee of a police force

A police officer, also known as an officer, policeman, policewoman, cop/copper, garda, police agent, or a police employee is a warranted law employee of a police force. In most countries, "police officer" is a generic term not specifying a particular rank. In some, the use of the rank "officer" is legally reserved for military personnel.

Police uniforms and equipment in the United Kingdom have varied considerably from the inception of what was to become the earliest recognisable mainstream police force in the country with the Glasgow Police Act 1800 forming the City of Glasgow Police and then the Metropolitan Police Act of 1829, allowing the formation of the Metropolitan Police. With the various County Police Acts, policing became a more standardised practice in the United Kingdom throughout the late nineteenth century, the uniforms and equipment became equally standardised. From a variety of home grown uniforms, bicycles, swords and pistols the British police force evolved in look and equipment through the long coats and top hat, to the recognisable modern uniform of a white shirt, black tie, reflective jackets, body armour, and the panda car.

Terrorism use of violence and intimidation against civilians in order to further a political goal

Terrorism is, in the broadest sense, the use of intentionally indiscriminate violence as a means to create terror among masses of people; or fear to achieve a religious or political aim. It is used in this regard primarily to refer to violence during peacetime or in war against non-combatants. The terms "terrorist" and "terrorism" originated during the French Revolution of the late 18th century but gained mainstream popularity in the 1970s in news reports and books covering the conflicts in Northern Ireland, the Basque Country and Palestine. The increased use of suicide attacks from the 1980s onwards was typified by the September 11 attacks in New York and at the Pentagon in 2001.

The SPG originally consisted of four units based throughout London. This was increased to six and finally to eight. Each unit was made up of an inspector, three sergeants and thirty constables.

Its position within the Metropolitan Police was unusual; whereas the Flying Squad became the symbol of the Criminal Investigation Department in London, the SPG became recognised as a unit that efficient uniformed officers could aspire to join. As such it had an exceptionally high level of esprit de corps .

The Flying Squad is a branch of the Serious and Organised Crime Command within London's Metropolitan Police Service. The squad's purpose is to investigate commercial armed and unarmed robberies.

Morale, also known as esprit de corps, is the capacity of a group's members to maintain belief in an institution or goal, particularly in the face of opposition or hardship. Morale is often referenced by authority figures as a generic value judgment of the willpower, obedience, and self-discipline of a group tasked with performing duties assigned by a superior. According to Alexander H. Leighton, "morale is the capacity of a group of people to pull together persistently and consistently in pursuit of a common purpose". Morale is important in the military, because it improves unit cohesion. Without good morale, a force will be more likely to give up or surrender. Morale is usually assessed at a collective, rather than an individual level. In wartime, civilian morale is also important. Esprit de corps is considered to be an important part of a fighting unit.

Other police forces outside London created their own versions of the Special Patrol Group. The Greater Manchester Police created the Tactical Aid Group (TAG) in 1977. The Merseyside Police formed the Task Force in 1974 which was later disbanded in 1978 and replaced with the Operational Support Division (OSD).

Controversy

One of the SPG's most controversial incidents came in 1979, while officers were policing a protest by the Anti-Nazi League in Southall. During a running battle, demonstrator Blair Peach was struck on the head and died as a result of his injuries; at the time it was alleged to have been an action of the SPG. In the inquiries which followed, a variety of unauthorised weapons were found in the possession of SPG officers, including baseball bats, crowbars and sledgehammers.

The Anti-Nazi League (ANL) was an organisation set up in 1977 on the initiative of the Socialist Workers Party with sponsorship from some trade unions and the endorsement of a list of prominent people to oppose the rise of far-right groups in the United Kingdom. It was wound down in 1981. It was relaunched in 1992, but merged into Unite Against Fascism in 2003.

Southall Suburban district in London Borough of Ealing, UK

Southall is a large suburban district of west London, England, and part of the London Borough of Ealing. It is situated 10.7 miles (17.2 km) west of Charing Cross. Neighbouring places include Yeading, Hayes, Hanwell, Hounslow, Greenford and Northolt. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.

Death of Blair Peach died in England in 1979

Clement Blair Peach was a New Zealand-born teacher who died during an anti-racism demonstration in Southall, Middlesex, England. A campaigner and activist against the far right, in April 1979 Peach took part in an Anti-Nazi League demonstration in Southall against a National Front election meeting in the town hall and was knocked unconscious.

No SPG officer was ever charged with the attack, although later, an internal report was leaked which stated that the Metropolitan Police paid an out of court settlement to Peach's family. The original Metropolitan police report, eventually officially published on 27 April 2010, concluded that the fatal blow that killed the anti-racism activist was probably made by a police officer. It is thought that "Peach's skull was crushed with an unauthorised weapon, such as a lead-weighted cosh or police radio" [2] The internal report also concluded that some officers had conspired to cover up the truth surrounding the death of the special needs teacher.

Nick Lowe referred to them in his record 'Half a boy and half a man'

'Special Patrol Group' was the name of Vyvyan's pet hamster in the 1980s BBC sitcom The Young Ones .

The third book of The Borrible Trilogy novels, by Michael de Larrabeiti, featured a parody of the SPG in the form of the "Special Borribles Group", or SBG, lead by the book's villain, the fictional Inspector Sussworth.

UK Punk/Oi Bands The Exploited and Red Alert both have songs named S.P.G.

Linton Kwesi Johnson dedicated the song "Reggae fi Peach" on the Album "Bass Culture" to Blair Peach. The refrain goes like this: "The SPG them are murderers (murderers) / We can't make them get no furtherer"

Constable Savage is transferred to the SPG in the Not the Nine O'Clock News Racist Police sketch.

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