Desmond O’Brien CBE QPM

Desmond O’BRIEN

It is with great sadness that we report the death of former Chief Constable, Desmond O’Brien.  Mr O’Brien was Chief Constable of the British Transport Police from 1989-1997 having previously served in Kent County Constabulary as Deputy Chief Constable and in senior ranks in Greater Manchester Police, the Police Staff College and in the RUC.

Mr O’Brien was a successful and highly respected Chief Constable. In many ways a traditionalist, he was also a moderniser at a time when the force needed modernisation. His reforms stood the test of time.  He was a leader with a clear sense of right and wrong. He prepared the force for the coming of rail privatisation. This was a time of great uncertainty and he tirelessly stood up for BTP in discussions with government and other forces. Most of all we remember him as the Chief who led the force through a prolonged and intense terrorist campaign against the railway network.  Many of the innovations in counter terrorism for the railway that were introduced at his direction remain in place and are of continuing relevance. His contribution is an important part of our history.

We extend our condolences to Mr O’Brien’s family.

We hope to publish a full obituary in due course.

Philip Trendall


An Obituary by Paul Robb is now available in HistoryBank.

4 comments to Desmond O’Brien CBE QPM

  • kenneth sidney avis

    Yes, he was a good CC for the force. I had many great talks and laughs with him. RIP Sir. Ken Avis MBE

  • Willie Baker

    A fine and highly respected leader, not only amongst the ranks and staff of the BTP but perhaps more especially within the railway community with whom he worked so closely, mentoring some very senior staff as the threat and reality of terrorism grew. And a gentleman to boot!

    • Gail Gallagher

      Hello Willie, this is Hazel’s daughter Gail. I have forwarded this to her. We were so very sad to learn of the Chief’s passing. He was a such a respected and well thought of man and I know my Mother was very happy to have served him all of those years.
      Do hope you are well?
      Kind regards

      • Willie Baker

        Hi Gail, lovely to hear from you and do please convey my warmest good wishes to Hazel and Ozzy. Sally and I and the kids are all well thanks and hope you all are too. Very best wishes, Willie