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They were the best years of our lives. They called them the swinging sixties. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were rulers of pop music, Carnaby Street ruled the fashion world … and me and my brother ruled London. We were fucking untouchable. Ronnie Kray, My Story autobiography
Most of the clubs are very respectable. Ronnie Kray, BBC interview
Britain: World War II: As Nazi bombs rained down on London a crimewave is taking place across the nation’s capital. Emerging from the city’s smouldering ashes is a race for unprecedented control of the underworld. A new godfather is poised to seize power and his reign will change the streets of London for ever. Wartime Crime I, Yesterday 2018
‘57 consecutive night attacks on London.’ ibid. historian
‘A police state; of all the ironies we were fighting a police state.’ ibid.
The first to feel liberated by the Blitz are London’s criminals; at the outbreak of War a general amnesty empties the prisons. ibid.
Among them is Billy Hill … Hill sees an opportunity. ibid.
In London criminal activity is dominated by a few powerful gangs that hail from the city’s slums. ibid.
His [Hill] campaign of robbery, heists and racketeering is poised to change the nature of crime for ever. ibid.
Participation in the black market forces millions of people to abandon their pre-War standards of morality. ibid.
He [Hill] launches a new audacious type of crime: Post Office robbery. ibid.
In 1952 he carries out the Eastcastle Street robbery with a value of over £7 million today; it is the biggest criminal heist Britain has ever seen. ibid.
Vietnamese gangs arrived in London at the start of the last decade ... Their business model involves turning a network of ordinary suburban homes into cannabis farms. They had enormous success with this in Canada before moving to Britain. According to the police for much of the last decade 60% of UK cannabis farms are run by Vietnamese criminal gangs. James Alexandrou, Cannabis: What’s the Harm? 2/2 BBC 2011
There will always be violent organised crime groups wanting to satisfy this demand. ibid.
In London alone there are 250 recognised gangs. And an estimated 4,500 young people caught up in gang culture. Gang Life, BBC 2012
Gang members carry out half of all shootings in the capital. ibid.
An early and violent death is another aspect of the lifestyle. ibid.
On March 5th 1969 identical twins Reginald & Ronald Kray were sentenced to Life imprisonment. They were 35 years old. Flesh & Blood: The Story of the Krays, 1991
Since their early twenties the Krays had been building up a criminal empire in the East End of London. ibid.
The streets of the East End were increasingly coming under the control of two gang leaders – Billy Hill and Jack Spot. ibid.
Their [Krays] gang was now known as The Firm. ibid.
The Krays’ network of clubs, fraud and protection was now a substantial concern. ibid.
In 1964 Ronnie Kray finally became headline news: his name was linked with Lord Boothby in a homosexual scandal that was set to rock the nation. ibid.
They were all-powerful in the East End; they were celebrities in the West End. ibid.
The Firm wanted Frank Mitchell, the Mad Axeman. In 1967 they arranged his escape from Dartmoor Prison. ibid.
In June 1967 Frances killed herself with an overdose of tablets. ibid.
It was to become the longest and most expensive trial in British legal history. ibid.
But the men standing behind Judy Garland are not rising young stars. They were gangstas. The Kray Twins Ronnie and Reggie ran protection rackets in London’s East End. The Krays loved publicity. They dressed to impress. Thanks to press and the TV they rapidly became household names. But the Krays had rivals. The Richardson brothers. Unlike the Krays, Eddie and Charley shied away from the media spotlight. They quietly built a major criminal empire based on illegal drinking clubs, extortion and corporate fraud. The Krays were based in London’s East End; the Richardsons operated across the River Thames. Both groups jealously guarded their respective turfs ... Fraser and the Richardson gang offered protection to bars and pubs in return for installing the gang’s fruit machines. It was thinly veiled extortion. Underworld: London
During the 1950s Ronnie Kray and his twin brother Reggie grew up in a working-class East-End household close to the docks. Early on, the brothers learned how to use fear and intimidation to survive in a tough city neighbourhood. Freddie Foreman, a lifelong friend, joined the Krays in their criminal enterprises. He soon discovered that getting between them was dangerous. With Foreman’s help, the Twins rose from poverty to become crime bosses of London’s East-End. The Krays called their gang The Firm ... The Twins made money through extortion, offering protection for clubs and pubs and receiving payment in return. Those who refused to comply faced serious consequences. ibid.
The Richardsons made £100,000 from fraud alone. More than a £1,000,000 in today’s money. But they were businessmen with a highly unusual management style. ibid.
London 1966: for months a dispute had been heating up between the City’s top crime families over control of the West End, London’s red light and entertainment district. ibid.
Ronnie Kray shot [George] Cornell in front of witnesses ... In London’s East End the Krays were beyond the reach of the law. ibid.
Across the River the Richardsons weren’t so lucky. Angered at the continued use of torture to keep them in line, gang members began informing police about the abuse. It was the break authorities had been waiting for. On July 30th 1966 Charlie Richardson was arrested on five counts of grievous bodily harm. He joined his brother Eddie and Frankie Fraser behind bars. With key members of the Richardson gang locked up, the Kray twins effectively became the rulers of London’s gangland. ibid.
London’s police now made busting the Krays a top priority ... The Krays still believed gangland loyalty would keep them from prison. Ronnie and Reggie were both sentenced to Life with a minimum of 30 years for the murders of Jack McVitie and George Cornell. Freddie Foreman got 10 years for his role in the McVitie murder. ibid.
The 1970s saw a five-fold increase in armed raids. Robbers like Bernie Khan were committing three or four robberies a week ... Alarmed with the crime wave, police fought back with an elite specialised squad of detectives – the Flying Squad. ibid.
Meanwhile, the City’s banks and cash-carrying companies were still being targeted. Out on the streets it was business as usual for the criminals. Robberies in London continued to escalate – 734 in 1978 alone ... By the 1980s the recent rash of armed robberies plaguing the City was declining. Security was also improving at banks and in the vehicles that transport the cash. ibid.
Charlie Kray and his twin brothers were once professional boxers. Born in London’s East End they knew they’d have to fight to make their name. In 1951 they all appeared on the same bill at the Royal Albert Hall. Underworld: The Krays, BBC 1994
From early childhood the identical twins were bound by bitter rivalry and fierce devotion. ibid.
They bought their mum a local pub – The Carpenter’s Arms. ibid.
The Krays worked hard to appear as local boys made good. But they were murderers and extortionists. They made sure cameras were on hand to help them gloss over the dark side of their activities. ibid.
From the front room of the two-up two-down they ran a criminal empire. ibid.
Protection was one of the firm’s main sources of income. ibid.
In the sixties crime was tinged with glamour. ibid.
Most of the Richardsons were either under sedation or under arrest. ibid.
The media loves the Krays. They’ve made more money selling their story from prison than they ever did as gangstas. ibid.
Frank the Mad Axeman Mitchell became the Kray’s next problem. ibid.
Frank Mitchell’s body has never been found, and no-one convicted of his murder. ibid.