Changes In the Early Sixties

By Bob Butcher

Extract from the September 2010 edition of History Lines (No. 13)

Following the appointment of Arthur West as Chief Constable, we got our first HQ. Park Royal wasn’t much but at least it was our own and it housed our first CRO. (Typically its Microfiche machine was a cast off from a goods office up North).

Henceforth the CID would deal with ‘crime’ only and not summary offences. Crime teams were established at HQ and Divisional Detective Inspector appointed in each division. In our little world, computers were science fiction but at least a start was made on introducing car and personal radio schemes and the use of ‘outside’ (i.e. no rail network ) phones authorised, the necessary phones being installed at many points.

A standard crime reporting procedure complete with the necessary specialaised stationery was introduced as a were special Occurrence Books, Telephone Message Books, Signing On Books and purpose designed Police Pocket Books.

Discipline Regulations and a Code base on those applying to Home Office forces were introduced whilst a Promotion Register was established from which vacancies for sergeants and inspectors would be filled without applicants having to be interviewed for each post (some unlucky individuals had attended numerous interviews).

New and much improved uniforms were issued including footwear – a small footwear repair allowance was paid. An individual issue of the latest pattern of handcuffs was made to the envy of many forces. Legislation provided for warrant cards to be signed by the Chief Constable instead of a justice, BTP officers were to be exempt from jury service and obstructing such officers became an offence.

A number of appointments from outside forces was made and two (Tadworth and the Dogs) were justified by their success.

Security wardens were recruited to relieve police of locking and sealing of cross town parcels transfer vans.

Later generations may think this was not much to get excited about and merely highlighted previous deficiencies. For those of us with our eyes on the future however, they were significant indeed and moved us closer to mainstream policing. Of course not every-one welcomed the changes. For some time an otherwise progressive Divisional Commander insisted that a crime report was in addition to, and not in lieu of a general or narrative report.

At least one Divisional Detective Inspector was made very unwelcome on taking up his appointment and some old dyed in the wool officers were reluctant to use ‘outside’ telephone lines to communicate with HQ, despite top level authority to do so.