The three-part series, entitled Life of Crime and scripted by Waking the Dead scribe Declan Croghan, will span three decades of a police officer's career.
Atwell will take the lead role of rookie policewoman Denise Woods, who becomes obsessed with one particular case involving the murder of a teenage girl.
Beginning with the Brixton riots in 1985, the three instalments will follow Denise's professional development through the police force, her single-minded and frequently reckless pursuit of justice, and her struggle to be accepted in a male-dominated environment.
The second and third episodes will be set in 1997 and 2013 respectively.
Life of Crime will begin shooting in Brixton and Dublin from November.
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Watch Digital Spy chatting to Hayley Atwell and co-star Damian Lewis about their roles in The Sweeney below: