The Railway Police

BTPHG member Roy Clark found this clipping amongst his papers and rightly thought it might be of interest.

It was published as an Editorial piece in The Police Review and Parade Gossip (later known simply as Police Review) on 18th June 1920. It gives some insight into the conditions that the railway police were undergoing at that time, but also shows that their efforts were well thought of amongst their peers.


The present conditions of service in the Railway Police are deplorably unsatisfactory, and the immediate prospect of their betterment anything but bright. There is common agreement among the men themselves that a substantial all round improvement is urgently called for, and commendable patience and loyalty have so far been shown in the manner by which their claims for a living wage and reasonable conditions of service have been pressed. It is felt that had they been admitted to membership of the National Union of Railwaymen the influence of this body would long since have secured to them the recognition they have so far failed to win. On the other |hand, had they been an integral part of the British Constabulary, instead of the paid servants of private corporations, they would have come within the scope of the Desborough Committee’s recommendations, than which they desire no better fate. As it is they are regarded as neither flesh nor fowl in the particular part of the labour world to which they belong, and have suffered much in consequence.

Although the Railway Police are the servants of the different railway companies, it must be admitted that these companies are national in character, and there should now be little difficulty in establishing the Railway Police as a national body with standardised conditions of service. As to the need of standardisation there can be no two questions. The conditions now prevailing in the different companies are simply chaotic, and as they vary from poor to very bad indeed, none being good, it is not to be wondered at that great discontent and unrest prevail. The position is aggravated by the fact that there is no properly constituted means for bringing the different parties together or for making effective representation of grievances through appointed delegates. Something has been attempted in this direction and we had hoped so much from it, but little good has so far resulted.

Our readers of the regular Police Service will readily realise the nature of the grievances from which the Railway Police are suffering. They require better pay throughout the Service, they think they are entitled to the benefits of a proper pension scheme, to reasonable sick pay, to something’ in the nature of a scheme of promotion whereby the higher and best paid positions in the Service go to experienced Railway Police officers, and to a regularisation of the hours of duty and rest days. All these are familiar topics to readers of the REVIEW and we need say no more about them. The remedy suggested is the application to the Railway Police of the Desborough Committee’s recommendations as to pay and conditions of service, together with the establishment of a Railway Police Federation on the lines of the Police Federation established under the terms of the Police Act, 1919. In effect, the Railway Police claim to be regarded as a branch of the Police Service of Great Britain.

In support of this claim it is submitted that the present most deplorable prevalence of thieving on the railways calls for the establishment and maintenance of a really efficient detective Police Service, and that this can only be secured by decent conditions of pay and service. Those who are acquainted with the work of the Railway Police testify to the dangers and hardships attending the performance of their duties, and claim that the risks to health and life which must be undertaken by them fully justified the claim that conditions of service which have now been conceded to the regular Police should also be granted to the Railway Police. In their efforts to make good this claim to a decent living wage and reasonable prospects, we wish the Railway Police every success.

The Police Review, 1920.