Bent Coppers: Crossing the Line of Duty

By Oliver Carter on April 20th, 2021

Dr Oliver Carter acted as a research consultant for the second episode of the three-part BBC documentary series Bent Coppers: Crossing the Line of Duty, produced by the BAFTA award winning Bohemia Films. Carter’s research into the British adult entertainment business from 1960-2000 informed the episode, which specifically focused on the police corruption in Scotland Yard’s Obscene Publications Squad in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During this period, many involved in the illicit production and distribution of hardcore pornography paid the squad for an informal license to trade. This resulted in the rapid growth of an alternative economy that was  underwritten by the Obscene Publications Squad, despite the distribution of hardcore pornography being prohibited under the Obscene Publications Act 1959. The extent of this corruption was eventually exposed by the British tabloid press in 1972, after the licensing system was uncovered and it was learned that senior police officers were going on holidays with those involved in distributing pornography. The TV episode looks at how Scotland Yard responded to this, attempting to root out the corruption that was endemic in the squad, drawing on interviews with those who were involved. The episode can be viewed on BBC iPlayer. Carter’s book Under the Counter: Britain’s Illicit Trade in Hardcore Pornographic 8mm Films will be published in 2022 by Intellect.