News, Views and Comments

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The Railway Policeman's Casebook

Railway Policeman's Casebook

The Railway Policeman’s Casebook

A new BTP related book is to be published on the 15th September 2015.

Written by BTPHG member Richard Stacpoole-Ryding, author of The British Transport Police: An Illustrated History.

From the book jacket:

“The opportunity to commit crime on the railways began from the day they were being built. The crimes both mirrored the range of those committed outside and existed in a microcosm of their own. It was the work of the various railway company police forces and predecessor forces to investigate and bring to justice the perpetrators. This book takes us back from the very early days of railway policing to the halcyon days of the 1940s to the 1980s when policing methods, image and perception were reflected in television series such as Dixon of Dock Green, Z Cars and The Bill. The cases in the book are authentic and reported by investigating officers from the age of steam locomotives, stations, goods yards, left luggage offices and dining cars, and those nostalgic images of railways. They bring to life the devious and clever methods devised by criminals to obtain success in their activities and how they were thwarted by the railway policeman.

Here, then, is a fascinating and diverse collection of cases from a past era that were committed in a unique environment and solved by a body of dedicated and highly trained officers of the railway police.”

It is available in paperback to pre-order from all good booksellers and internet sites, including direct from the publishers Amberley Publishing (special pre-order price of £9.74) and Amazon.

The British Transport Police Journals 1948 – 1990

Journal Front Cover

Just a reminder that the BTP History Group have scanned all the 157 Journals and made them available in PDF format on disc.

A double DVD disc set is available to purchase at a cost of £15.00 inclusive of UK postage and packing (BTPHG members receive a discount).

Discs can be purchased here: DVD Sales

Police Dog Heroes

Police Dog Heroes

Police Dog Heroes (Front Cover)

Another new BTP related book has recently been published.

Written by two retired BTP officers and BTPHG members, Mike Layton and our very own Bill Rogerson (BTPHG Secretary), it collects stories of the railway police dogs and their handlers.

From the book jacket:

“The British Transport Police became the first Police Force in the UK to establish a dog section when Airedale terriers began to patrol the docks of Hull in 1908. Since then, dogs from the force have served in two world wars, aided police in combatting terror attacks, and hunted down countless criminals.

Here, Layton and Rogerson trace the history of these faithful servants and bring us over forty thrilling, shocking, and sometimes humorous firsthand recollections from retired officers and handlers who fought crime and protected the public alongside man’s best friend. As those on the wrong side of the law become ever more sophisticated in their methods, the dogs have kept pace, and today form a key part in the fight against drugs and terror on the rail network.

Included here are accounts of such atrocities as the Lockerbie bombing and the 2005 terror attack in London, where the heroic actions of these unsung heroes of the force and their handlers were epitomised by BTP police dog Vinnie, recipient of the PDSA Gold Medal – the animal equivalent of the George Cross.”

It is available in paperback from all good booksellers and internet sites, including direct from the publishers Amberley Publishing and Amazon.

BTP History Writers

As you are probably aware we have an independent panel who appoint British Transport Police History Writers and they have been working overtime recently.
Their most recent appointments in April 2016 are:

Bill Rogerson for the continued production of the highly regarded History Lines monthly newsletter (81 so far and counting) and the co-authorship of a soon to be published book on the work of BTP Police dogs,

Michael Layton for his work in publishing the books: Hunting The Hooligans, Tracking The Hooligans and the above mentioned forthcoming book on the work of BTP Police Dogs,

Richard Stacpoole-Ryding for his work in publishing The British Transport Police: An Illustrated History,

and Pauline Appleby for her work publishing A Force on the Move: The Story of the British Transport Police 1825-1995.

Congratulations to them all.

Geoffrey Lawrence

Medal worn by a Chevalier (Knight) of the Légion d'Honneur.


We are pleased to report that BTPHG member Geoffrey Lawrence, a retired BT Police Officer, has been appointed a Chevalier of the ‘Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur’ (Knight in the National Order of the Legion of Honour) by the French Government.

The presentation was undertaken by the Rear Admiral Patrick Chevallereu and the French Air Attaché Colonel Patrice Morand at the Yorkshire Air Museum on Sunday 21st February 2016.

The honour is of the highest distinction awarded by France in recognition of both military and civil merit.

In Geoffrey’s case the service he rendered leading to the liberation of France in June 1944, constitutes the purpose of the award. As a private and infantryman with the 7th Battalion of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders in Normandy from June 1944 until severely wounded by machine-gun fire during a silent attack on German frontline positions near St Syvain on August 10, 1944. After he recovered from his wounds he was transferred to the Royal Army Service Corps.

French President Francois Hollande announced during the 70th anniversary commemoration of the Normandy landings that France would give its highest honour to all surviving veterans who fought for the liberation of France during the Second World War.

Mr Lawrence held the rank of Chief Superintendent, Divisional Commander, North East, on retirement 1981.

Geoffrey Lawrence’s Service History is as follows:

1943 – 45 Argyle & Sutherland Highlanders (wounded in action Normandy)
1944 – 46 RASC Egypt, Palestine, Cyprus
1951 – 81 British Transport Police – serving at Huddersfield, Norwich, Nottingham, Birmingham and Leeds.

In retirement Geoffrey was the first Co-ordinator of the Leeds Victim Support Scheme.

He has written and published his autobiography titled –  “An Incident Occurred”.

Contre Amiral Patrick Chevallereau presenting the Legion d'Honneur, Frances's highest award to Geoffrey Lawrence from Bradford at the Yorkshirein Air Museum. Picture: Richard Doughty Photography

Rear Admiral Patrick Chevallereau presenting the Legion d’Honneur to Geoffrey Lawrence.


The twelve Normandy Veterans who were presented with the Legion d’Honneur

Source: The Yorkshire Air Museum
Pictures: Richard Doughty Photography

Webmaster’s Note:
This blogpost updates and replaces an earlier post which proved to be inaccurate in several respects.
Thanks to Colin Sinclair for additional research.

An Inspector Recalls: Memoirs of a Railway Detective

An Inspector Recalls

Another new BTP related book has recently been published.

It is a personal memoir written former BTP officer Graham Satchwell.


This is how he describes it:

“Several books describe the organisation and structure of the BTP. But how many have told the inside story?

My book gives a fresh perspective on policing the railways in Britain from the 1960’s to the 1990’s and describes the internal workings of the Force against a backdrop of significant crime.

The style is light and self-deprecating, and so far as the topics allow, amusing.

The publishers describe the book as ‘laughing out loud funny’ and say it provides, ‘dollops of humour, painful truth and a true description of the macho policing culture of the time.’

In any event it starts with a description of my cheating to pass the police entrance examination, aged 18, and ends with my being refused permission to leave the force upon reaching retirement age!

I describe my involvement in dealing with serious and not so serious matters (e.g. train robberies, corporate manslaughter, child abduction, terrorism, bomb threats, police corruption, the odd politician and even The Queen, drunks, vagrants and petty thieves). It also covers my periods in uniform, at Tadworth, my time at university and whilst on the staff of the Police Staff College.

Most of all it is a book about people – mostly you! For whilst it is a personal account, it is also the story of every officer who served during that period.

As you will know, this is the first book by a senior British Transport Police detective about personal experiences investigating railway crime.”


It is available in hardcover from all good booksellers and certain internet sites, including Amazon, from which a Kindle version is also available.

To accompany the book Graham has a website – and he recently gave this interview to a local TV channel:

New History Writers Appointed

Ed Thompson and John Owen

Ed Thompson and John Owen

In was recently announced in the BTPHG Year Book 2016, that the nominations committee have this year appointed two new BTP History Writers – John Owen and Ed Thompson – for their tenacity and dedication in thoroughly documenting the Force during their long-running Census Project, travelling the length and breadth of the land in order to do so.

Congratulations to them both.

Annual General Meeting 2016

Our 2016 Annual General Meeting will be held on Monday 21st March at The Railway (formerly The Bright House), Public House, Hill Street, Birmingham, commencing at 12.30 hours.

This venue is approximately five minutes’ walk from Birmingham New Street Station (map).

A buffet will be provided free of charge. All members are welcome but you do need to let Bill Rogerson know at least two weeks beforehand so that food can be ordered appropriately.

Members should receive a copy of the Year Book in the post before the AGM and copies of all relevant papers will be available on the day.

This is the one opportunity in the year when group members have the chance to meet up and chat historically, topically or just plain sociably.

Hope to see you there.

NB: As with last year, the AGM will not be the day before the NARBTPO AGM.

Rail closure protests of the 1960’s and 70’s’

A new BTPHG Project has commenced! Following the purchase of a photograph on E-Bay showing BTP making an arrest of a protester at Summerseat railway station in Lancashire in 1967, Rob Davison wondered if there were more of these protests during the Beeching era. Now the proverbial ‘can of worms’ has been opened and information has been gathered from a variety of sources into long-forgotten but at the time, vociferous and sometimes violent public protests about rail closures.

Rob would be interested in hearing from anyone who can assist him. He can be contacted at

For more on other BTPHG Projects go to the Projects page.

Tracking the Hooligans: The History of Football Violence on the UK Rail Network

Tracking the Hooligans

Tracking the Hooligans

Another new BTP related book has recently been published.

It is written former BTP officers by Mike Layton and Alan Pacey.

From the cover:

“On an average Saturday, some thirty trains carried police escorts of between two and eight officers. Officers sometimes reached the destination with their uniforms soiled with spittle, and other filth, burnt with cigarette ends, or slashed.’

Charting the history of violent acts committed by football hooligans on the British rail network and London Underground, numerous retired police officers offer a frightening, and often humorous, insight into how they battled ‘the English disease’. Recalling incidents of random, mindless violence, as well as organised acts carried out by some of the country’s top hooligan firms, the authors document the times where nothing but a truncheon and the power of speech stood between order and chaos.

Exploring a period of fifty years, retired officers Michael Layton and Alan Pacey pay particular attention to the turbulent and dangerous times faced by the police in the 1970s and 1980s, when hooliganism in the United Kingdom was at its peak, as well as exploring more recent instances of disorder. Tracking the Hooligans is an essential account of the uglier side of the beautiful game, and a fitting tribute to those who gave their time, and sometimes their lives, keeping the public safe.”

It is available in paperback from all good booksellers and certain internet sites, including Amazon, from which a Kindle version is also available..