Operation Framework was an investigation into a number of British men who police believed were taking children abroad, principally to Amsterdam, where they were being sold into prostitution and pornography.
On the day of the final police ‘swoop’, thirty-one search warrants had been obtained, including one against Warwick Spinks. Spinks at the time was a known but unconvicted paedophile, close to the heart of the trade in children. Police used an undercover officer, known as Todd, to gain Spink’s confidence. The story is reproduced here exactly as Todd recalls it in ‘The Dirty Squad‘ by Michael Hames.
In November 1992 I was tasked to gain the confidence of a man called Warwick Spinks, who lived in Norwood. After gaining his trust I was to monitor his movements and activities with a view to bringing a prosecution. I had to pass myself off as a homosexual paedophile, but this time I had to do it without letting the target know that I knew he was a paedophile. To make matters even more difficult, this man had never been convicted of anything, so I had to work on a person who had no form for me to study, and who also possessed an apparent ability to run rings around the law. It was not going to be an easy job, and we knew this would be a long-term operation. Spinks had placed advertisements in Boyz, a free homosexual magazine, offering flats to rent in Poland and Amsterdam. I called the number in the advertisement and Spinks answered the telephone. I introduced myself as an executive in an insurance and finance business, and I said I would like to use his flat in Amsterdam. We arranged the dates and agreed the terms, and I gave him a special office number so he could contact me if there was any need. He told me I could pick up the keys from him at the flat in Amsterdam, as he would be there on 17 December, the date I was due to arrive.
Spinks had been under fairly regular surveillance, and a couple of days before I was due to meet him he was seen in Victoria station, talking to a teenage boy he was definitely aiming to pick up. I was shown a photograph of the two of them in the station as part of my briefing before I left for Holland. On my arrival in Amsterdam I met up with a young Dutch police officer who was to work with me. He was using the name of Mark. In the early afternoon he drove me to the Amstel district and parked outside a large block of flats with the name `Amstel 294′ on the front. Mark waited in the car and I went into the foyer of the building. I pressed the intercom for one of the flats. A man answered and told me to take the lift to the fifth floor. When I got there I knocked on the door of the flat. Warwick Spinks opened the door. I recognised him at once from the various photographs I had seen. He looked younger than his years; he could easily have been taken for a man of twenty-five, rather fat but quite flashily good-looking, the type anybody would assume to be a ladies’ man. He took me inside and introduced me to the same youth he was photographed with in Victoria station. `This is my friend Ken,’ he said. Spinks then gave me a cursory tour of the flat, which was one big room with kitchen facilities and a fold-down bed, plus a separate shower room and toilet. I said to Spinks, I’ve met a friend of a friend of mine over here. He’s downstairs. He doesn’t know Amsterdam, perhaps we could all go out this evening?’ `Sure: Spinks said. ‘In fact we can go for a drink right now, just so you get the feel of the place, then tonight we’ll all go out for a proper pub crawl: `That’s marvellous,’ I said:I’m here for three days, and I don’t want to miss out on anything. If you really don’t mind showing me round …’
`It’ll be a pleasure, Todd: `Great. I’ll pay for everything. I want to see the right places. You know I winked, ‘where they’ve got the younger element.’ Downstairs I introduced Mark, then the four of us walked through the cold sunlit streets to the Marcella Bar in Princengracht. We sat at a table and Spinks ordered our drinks in Dutch. He was extremely friendly and I appeared to hit it off with him without any difficulty. He commented on my Cockney accent, and I told him that I came from the East End. He told me he was from South London. I tried to ask Ken about himself, but Spinks did all the talking. `Ken lives in Kent. He’s fifteen,’ he added, with the shadow of a wink. Later, when Ken went to the toilet, Spinks told me that he had had sexual intercourse with the lad the night before. He said it was Ken’s first sexual experience and that he had pretended to be drunk and asleep throughout the whole scene. When we were on our second drink Spinks asked me what I was going to do during my stay in Amsterdam. I told him I would like to look at some videos and visit a few gay bars. He told me that there were plenty of chickens — young boys — in the gay bars around the city. I did my best to look pleased about that, then I moved the subject on to videos. `I’ll tell you what, Warwick, I said, ‘I bought a few videos back in England but they were very poor quality.’ `Yeah, well, they would be’. He told me he had run a porno video business in Kent at one time, using the name of J. Heath. He said all of his stock of videos had been confiscated by the police, but he hadn’t been caught. Do you still have any contacts in the business?’ I asked him. He nodded slowly and smiled. He said that he could get any kind of videos I wanted right there in Amsterdam.
`I don’t think I’d like to run the risk of taking them through Customs’ I said ‘Have you got any back in England I might have a look at?’ `Sure, I’ll fix you up, Todd. Don’t worry about it.’ Later, while Ken and Mark sat saying nothing, looking around them, Spinks told me he had other flats for rent in Warmoestraat, which was in another part of Amsterdam. `But they’re for straight punters. I’ve got flats to rent in Prague and the Canary Islands, too, if you’re ever interested: `I quite fancy Prague,’ I said.’Never been there, mind you’. Spinks told me drink and cigarettes were cheap in Prague. He had plenty of supplies in England and he would be happy to sell some to me cheap. I noticed that Spinks was getting more talkative the more he drank. He told me he had been coming to Amsterdam since he was fifteen years old. He also said that he had been married and had two children, but he had left his wife and was living with a nineteen-year-old Polish boy in Thornton Heath. He referred to this boy as ‘the wife’. When he showed some interest in my own background I told him I was the executive manager of an insurance and finance company. I was single, I said, and usually inclined to keep myself to myself. Spinks told me that tonight, just for a change, I could come out of my shell. He said he would show us round the best gay bars in Amsterdam.Then he looked at his watch. `I have to go. I’ve an appointment to keep.’ We arranged that we would meet again in the evening at seven o’clock, at Amstel 294. Before he and Ken left the bar Spinks gave me a set of keys for the flat. I waited five minutes, then left the bar with Mark. We met up with other Dutch officers and went to a hotel where a room had been booked for me.We spent the rest of the afternoon making notes.
Later I went to the flat with Mark, where we sat and waited for the other two to show up. At about half-past seven Spinks buzzed the intercom and told me he was in the foyer with Ken. Mark and I went down and all four of us went to the Amstelhoek, a gay bar. While we were there Spinks told me he wanted to show me as many bars as possible that evening because he was going back to England with Ken the following day. We stayed in Amstelhoek for about three minutes and then went to Chez Manfred on Halvemassteeg. It was full to the door with gay men of all ages.There were also two middle-aged women, who were walking along the bar, putting lipstick on the men as they passed. We declined their offer and went to another bar opposite. This place was decorated entirely in white, with white cloth on the walls and ceiling. `It’s like walking into a giant condom,’ Spinks said. Like the other places this was a gay bar, as busy as the one across the road. Two black men behind me were dancing, and after a minute I felt two hands closing around my genitals. I looked over my shoulder, trying not to panic, and I saw that one of the black men had turned towards me and was dancing with his front to my back. He grinned at me and so did Spinks. I pulled away from him perhaps a little too sharply, then I quickly explained to Spinks that he had been making me spill my drink. We left this bar after ten minutes and went to a quieter one on Amstel. There were only four other customers and the bar had no disco, so it was possible to have a conversation. Spinks drew me to one side. `Todd, I want your stay in Amsterdam to be a memorable one. There’s lots of other gay bars I want to show you, but I’ve got a problem. I didn’t get a chance to go to the bank, so I’m running low on money. Could you lend me three hundred guilders?’ `No problem’.
I handed him the cash, and I had the immediate sense that I had passed some kind of test. He put his mouth close to my ear. `The next bar we go to,’ he whispered ‘I’m going to fix you up with a chicken’. So events were fitting the required scenario. Spinks had taken to me. I had won his confidence, and he accepted me as a paedophile, all on my first day in the job. The only snag so far was that I had to make sure I had no part in the soliciting of a minor, and I had to do it without making Spinks suspicious. `Listen: I said,’ tapping my chest, ‘I’ve got to be careful. With this heart condition I’ve got, a frisky chicken would probably kill me’ `Nah. Spinks shook his head. ‘You won’t have to do anything. You can just cuddle, or the boy can give you a blow-job. It won’t cost you a thing, either. It’ll be my treat.’ He said I could take the boy back to Amstel 294N, and at some point during the evening we could swap partners. He would let me sleep with Ken while he had sex with the boy he had supplied for me. Now I felt a little flutter of panic. I told Spinks it seemed like a good idea, but the fact was, I fancied Mark. He frowned at me. ‘Isn’t he a bit old for your taste?’ `He is, yes, but he’s the boyfriend of a friend, you see? It would give me a bit of a kick if I could make it with him. I won’t get a chance after tonight, so I’d like to take a shot at it, if you won’t feel offended.’ `Do you think Mark will go for it?’ Spinks muttered. ‘He doesn’t look all that interested to me.’ I said I would speak to Mark, and if he wasn’t interested, I would take Spinks up on his kind offer. `Fair enough: Spinks said. I asked Mark to come outside for a minute. He followed me out on to the cold street.
‘Look’ I said, `me and you have got to fall in love very, very quickly, otherwise we’re both in the shit, big time.’ Mark understood. We walked back into the bar hand in hand. `I’m in with Mark: I whispered to Spinks. ‘But thanks for your offer, anyway.’ Keeping my voice low, I told Spinks that not only had Mark agreed to sleep with me, but he was going to drive me back to his house where I could stay the night, so Spinks could have the use of Amstel 294, which would save him driving across the city to the place where he was staying. `Suits me fine,’ Spinks said, and I could see he had swallowed the story. He looked at his watch. ‘I’ll have to phone the wife soon. He’s a jealous lad and gets stroppy if I don’t keep in touch.’ At about 9:30 I told Spinks I was keen to leave with Mark, now we had an understanding. We said our goodbyes and I thanked Spinks for making my first visit to Amsterdam so enjoyable. I left the bar with Mark and we then drove to my hotel, where we made our notes. I was confident, by that time, that I had made a sound contact with Spinks, and that he not only trusted me and accepted me as a paedophile, but appeared to want to stay friendly. When I returned to England I allowed time for Spinks to get back, then I telephoned him, because I had to give him back the keys to the flat in Amsterdam. I said I would bring them round. He told me not to bother, I could just post them. I said I didn’t like the idea of putting keys in the post, I’d much sooner give them to him. So I met him down in Norwood, and he introduced me to the man he had referred to as his wife. We had a drink and as I left he said he wanted to have a natter with me again really soon. We kept in touch fairly regularly after that. I used to meet him at Compton’s and similar places in the West End. It was an easy-going arrangement, smoother than I had imagined at the outset.
Then without any warning Spinks moved to Hastings to live. I made excuses to keep in contact with him there, too. Operation Framework at that point had been running for about two years; they now had a list of numerous names and addresses where they would soon make simultaneous swoops nationwide. The big day was about to dawn. I went down to Hastings to find out if Spinks would be there the following Tuesday, when the raids were due to take place. When I was alone with him in his house he said, ‘I had two lovely boys here. Fourteen, they were, both of them.’ He winked. `I took photographs.’ `Local lads, are they?’ I asked him. `No fear.They’re from a children’s home in Doncaster.’ I told him I would love to see the photographs. He said he hadn’t had them developed yet. `I’m going over to Amsterdam next week, I’ll get them developed then. I asked him what the boys looked like. One was fair, he said, and was called Tom; the other one, Ricky, was dark-haired. `Lovely,’ I said. I’d definitely like to see them.’ Because of that conversation, the Framework invasion plan was put on hold until we had a date when Warwick Spinks would be back home at Hastings. Meanwhile, going on the descriptions of the boys I had been given, plus their names and the location, the police were able to go to the only children’s home in Doncaster where they found, sure enough, that two boys with those names and fitting those descriptions had run away several days earlier. Later, when the boys had been found again and brought back to the home, one of them described how they had been picked up in Hastings by Spinks and taken to his home. He had sodomised them at knife-point, then made them sodomise each other.
One of them was taken to Amsterdam and sold to the owner of a club called the Blue Boy. He eventually escaped through a window and went to the British consul, who brought him back to England. Meanwhile, Framework had to be re-scheduled, so I called Spinks in Amsterdam and said I was thinking of coming over to Hastings the following Wednesday, which was when the officers running Framework wanted to make all the raids. ‘I’ll be home that day, sure: he told me.’Earlier than that, most likely. Come down when you like: `I wondered if you’d have the photos of the two lads you told me about,’ I said. `I should have them by then, yeah: he said.’You won’t be disappointed, I can promise you.’ `Great. I’ll see you next Wednesday, then: Spinks was duly raided the following Wednesday.Among other material, the police found the negatives of the photographs of Tom and Ricky from the children’s home. At Lewes Crown Court Spinks pleaded not guilty to a number of charges. After I and everyone else involved in the case had given evidence, Spinks was found guilty. He was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment.