Daily Record - UK
Pit bull unleashed - cop hated by hoods lays bare mobsters' secrets
Exclusive by Norman Silvester, Sunday Mail
Sep 18 2011
A FEARED detective, branded a “pit bull” by mobster Tam McGraw, has revealed the secrets of his 30-year war on hoods and hitmen.
Gerry Gallacher was hated during his career on the gangland frontline but fears gang bosses were allowed too much freedom to build their multi-million pound criminal empires.
In his explosive new book – Gangsters, Killers And Me – Gallacher reveals his fears that criminals were allowed to flourish unchecked by police chiefs in the 1980s after they complained that officers were harassing them.
He claims police chiefs were too quick to accept complaints from emerging young hoods.
He says gangsters launched a deliberate campaign against officers who were making their lives difficult on their patch.
But instead of backing their officers, Strathclyde Police bosses took the easy option of transferring them to other areas, giving the criminals a free reign.
Gallacher, a former acting inspector who retired from the force earlier this year, said he realised the hoods were winning the war of attrition while working in north-east Glasgow.
The area was infested with organised crime gangs led by Paul Ferris, Russell Stirton and the McGovern brothers.
Gallacher, 59, revealed: “All three were adept at making complaints against cops who tried to disrupt their criminal activities.
“As a result, any officers complained against were moved by their bosses to other parts of the force, even if the complaints were proved unfounded.
“Officers then stopped disrupting the crooks because they feared being transferred or the complaints hampering their careers.
“There was also a possibility you would be transferred somewhere far from home.
“A hard-working officer will always draw complaints from criminals if he is doing his job properly.
“I am not talking about assaults…but of hounding and harassing them for whatever reason. Criminals in turn will lodge a complaint in the hope that it deters the officer from pursuing them.
“Officers began to wonder if it was worth the hassle and they stopped carrying out routine stop and searches, which are vital when you are trying to disrupt known criminals.
“Because of this laissez-faire attitude by senior management, criminal enterprises flourished in later years.
“I can’t say if this happened anywhere else in the force but when this policy exists, you find the criminals who were shoplifting or stealing cars become major drug dealers.”
Gallacher says the gangsters went on to run some of the biggest crime gangs in Scotland, exposing the failure of the police to keep on top of them.
He added: “It was clearly the wrong policy and officers should have felt free to continue to target these individuals without fear of being transferred to another division.
“However, it is easy to be wise after the event.
“At the time, senior officers may not have realised the individuals concerned would become so prominent in later years.
“Many senior officers didn’t have experience of this type of criminal. Dealing with it the way they did may have seemed the lesser of two evils.
“I don’t think it would happen now because of better intelligence gathering and improved technology.”
Gallacher says the hands-off approach in the late 1980s followed a series of high-profile cases in which Stirton, who later married a member of the McGovern family, and Ferris accused the police of corruption.
Stirton told a TV documentary team in 1986 that a drugs squad officer had asked him to plant drugs on another criminal.
The same year, Ferris alleged that another officer had tried to frame him on a gun charge.
Though Strathclyde Police were cleared of wrongdoing, the incidents were enough for chiefs to start moving officers out of the district.
Ferris, Stirton and the McGoverns all rose through the criminal ranks to become major league underworld figures in later years.
Stirton, now 51, is awaiting the outcome of a £5.6million proceeds-of- crime case against him.
Ferris, 47, rose to prominence in 1992 after he was acquitted of the murder of Arthur Thompson Jr, the son of crime godfather Arthur Sr.
In 1998, he was jailed for seven years for his part in a gun-running operation in London. Since his release, Ferris claims to have gone straight but police chiefs believe he remains active.
The McGovern family became major drug dealers with interests in pubs and taxis. A feud with gang member Jamie “Iceman” Stevenson led to the murder of Tony McGovern in 2000.
Gallacher is also critical of the slack given by the police hierarchy at the time to established crime boss Tam McGraw, who died in 2007.
McGraw was allegedly allowed to operate his criminal empire in return for information to the police.
On one occasion when Gallacher tried to arrest McGraw, the hood complained directly to his boss.
Gallacher said: “It was clear from his reaction that he had been given too much leeway by certain police officers over the years.
“There was a look of total disbelief on his face and the astonishment in his voice was clear.”
Gallacher says having more officers on the beat is vital if they are to stop the next generation of Mr Bigs from flourishing.
He added: “There is nothing more important for the police than meeting people, winning their confidence and gathering information. You can’t do that in a police car or on a bike.
“The Chief Constable, Stephen House, is keen on putting more officers back on the beat. I only hope he is given the resources to do it.”
Gallacher joined the police in 1981 after 10 years as a professional footballer, playing in goal for East Fife, Stranraer and Albion Rovers.
Bigotry in the force shocked me
FORMER detective Gerry Gallacher yesterday described how he was sickened by a senior officer’s casual bigotry after an Old Firm game.
In his book, Gallacher, a Catholic, describes a Monday morning briefing at a Glasgow police station after Celtic had won the league in May 2001.
A Rangers-supporting detective inspector announced to the room that there were “a lot of Catholics locked up at the weekend”.
Gallacher was disgusted because he worked and played football with the senior officer over many years and did not realise he was a bigot.
He added: “I was also disappointed that no one spoke out at the time.
“I don’t care about someone’s religion or orientation, so long as they can do the job. That is the most important thing.”
After the incident, disillusioned Gallacher was granted a transfer to Coatbridge police station, in Lanarkshire.
The dad-of-two had declined an offer to join the Masons earlier in his police career.
He believes that other officers were promoted thanks to their membership of the secret organisation.
The Vatican has ruled that Catholics should not join the society, which the church regards as un-Christian.
Gallacher said: “Some of the best officers I worked with were Masons.
“But they do have the power to affect progression in the police.”