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.

A new blog....


Our Chair, Phil Trendall, has started a new blog: Policing Public Transport: A Neglected History.

Not officially from the BTPHG, the blog enables Phil to give “my own views on related subjects. The study of police history is not without controversy and it may be that I will sometimes touch on areas where there is not a general consensus. So be it, but I will always seek to avoid offence and  I will be interested in hearing alternative views.”

It’s already off to a very promising start and I, for one, have already opted to press the ‘follow’ button.

Phil has already given us permission to use any articles we wish for this website, and I have already started off by ‘lifting’ our first item. The Oldest Railway Policeman? is now housed within our Research section, where it joins over fifty other articles.

And just a reminder that the Research section is just one section of the HistoryBank, where you can find many items of interest.

New Year Honours List 2022

Detective Sergeant Andrew James Winters has been awarded the Queen’s Police Medal (QPM) in Her Majesty The Queen’s 2022 New Year Honours for his unwavering commitment to keeping the public safe and considerable contribution to UK policing.

Having joined BTP in 1983 and selected into a detective role in 1987, Andy has played a crucial part in investigating the most serious crimes. Early on in his career he quickly showed his aptitude to robustly and effectively investigate murders, rapes and organised crime, bringing the most dangerous offenders to justice. Andy, who has incredibly not taken a day off due to sickness in 38 years, is a renowned team player whose tenacity and drive as an officer is infectious amongst his colleagues.

He was promoted to the rank of Detective Sergeant in 1990 before being selected to manage a surveillance team, a pickpocket team and thereafter the Organised Crime Team.

As part of the Organised Crime Team, he worked in close partnership with key stakeholders as he led an international operation which resulted in the arrest of 17 individuals and the recovery of £500,000 worth of criminal assets. He was also instrumental in investigating the murders of Lee Pomeroy and Tashan Daniel, who tragically lost their lives in 2019. In both cases, his contribution resulted in two violent thugs removed from society and subsequently being sentenced to substantial jail terms.

To this day he serves with BTP and continues to show the same enthusiasm and determination to ensure the railway is a safe environment for passengers as he enters his thirty-ninth year with the force.

Detective Sergeant Andy Winters said: “I am humbled and extremely grateful to be recognised by Her Majesty in her New Year Honours awards, especially given the great people that have been recognised in previous years. My dad also worked for BTP – his passion was unrivalled, and he thoroughly enjoyed his time with the force. If he was alive today, I know how immensely proud of me he would be. I would like to sincerely thank my current colleagues and those I’ve worked with in the past, as without them I would not be receiving this prestigious accolade. My appreciation extends to BTP for providing me with opportunities that have led me to this honour. I have enjoyed every minute of my 38-year career with this fantastic force.”

Detective Superintendent Gary Richardson said: “Andy is a very deserving recipient of this policing award, he reflects the definition of a proactive officer. He has a long history of successful policing operations and is highly respected by his colleagues who always look to seek his guidance and support. Over the years he’s worked with numerous other forces and agencies, both nationally and internationally, and always represents BTP to the highest standard and professionalism.”

In September 2021, Andy also received the British Transport Police Federation Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his dedication, motivation and commitment throughout his long and distinguished career with BTP.


Sources include: BTP

See: Honours, Medals and Decorations table

Also see: Retired Officer celebrates 100 years; Andy features in an article concerning his late father.




Someone's Still Watching


Someone’s Still Watching

Retired BTP officer and BTPHG member Steve Barnbrook has a new crime fiction novel out.

From the information supplied:

Something strange is happening at the dilapidated run down Children’s Home Alldahope. The local Police do not seem to be interested in the sinister goings on despite some worrying events and suspicious homicides. Can dedicated officer Shirley Wallows and her oddball group of colleagues get to the find out the chilling truth or will the collection of waifs and strays be abandoned and left to their fate. Not everything and everyone are what they seem to be.

‘Someone’s Still Watching’ is Steve’s second book in the series and follows the exploits of Shirley Wallows. The settings and locations are based in and around his hometown of Stourbridge.

Prior to retirement Steve was stationed at Birmingham and the Midlands area, and spent much of his career within the Scenes of Crime / Forensic Department. Whilst his books are fictional, many of the individual scenes depicted are loosely based on real events.


The book is available from
ISBN: 9798753798589


That Was the Year That Was

Chair’s Year End Message 2021

Our Chair, Phil Trendall, has written an end of the year summary which has been emailed to members.

It can also be found here: That Was the year That Was


Season's Greetings!

Christmas Crochet

I thought I’d make a change from my usual roaring log fire picture this year.

🎄Last year I hoped for a better new year than the last, it didn’t work out that way for many of us, but nevertheless a seasonal greeting from all of us at the BTPHG 🎄.
And let’s look forward to a much happier New Year (again)!

LNER Policeman During WW2

Embed from Getty Images

Whilst looking for some images of NER Policeman (for a different project) I came across these two images featuring the LNER.

It’s always interesting what you can randomly come across.

The description reads: Two Police officer dog handlers, one a sergeant and one a constable working with the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) slip a leash on a police dog at a LNER goods depot in England during World War II on 10th September 1942.

(Photo by Calcraft/Popperfoto via Getty Images)

A Reminder to Members

At a time when we are all getting our address books out (or digital equivalents) to send cards to our nearest and dearest, can we remind you about our dearest Secretary and Membership Secretary. They both work hard in keeping our membership details up to date. We need accurate records both to send out the quarterly Newsletter and annual Year Book, but also to comply with Data Protection regulations.

So, if you have changed your name, postal address or email address recently, please let us know as soon as possible (contact details are in the newsletter or use the Contact form). Remember that we are administratively separate from NARBTPO, so please let each of us know individually.

🎄 🎄 🎄 🎄 🎄

And if you want to become a member, you can always join here!

We Will Remember Them

As we approach Remembrance Day it is time again to reflect on those RDC officers who were killed during the conflicts, either overseas or on duty.

A reminder that we have the Roll of Honour pages detailing those officers.

The 2021 Poppy Appeal for the Royal British Legion has been launched. Last year, due the pandemic, there were no volunteer collectors out on the streets and stations, but this year they are returning. You can also donate online.

Some Reflections on Black History Month

by Philip Trendall

There are a number of themed ‘History Weeks’ throughout the year.  They allow for an organised focus on aspects of history that are often passed by in the mainstream historical research.

Every year I learn new things during Black History Month and I have been fascinated this year by the story of John Kent.  He was probably the first black police officer in the UK who, in later life, joined the railway police and also worked for a railway company.  There is an article on Kent on our website (see below).  I have also enjoyed the book by my predecessor as Chair of the BTP History Group, Mike Layton: Proud to Serve; Embracing Diversity in Policing (2020).  Mike’s book reminds us that the advances in diversity in the police service have not happened without considerable effort by many officers and especially by officers from BME backgrounds who have, by their example, made policing a richer and more inclusive service that better reflects the communities which are served by forces throughout the country, including of course the British Transport police.

The Force has an insightful area on its website covering Black History Month.  It includes a great interview with Mike and Carlton Wedderburn who between them have 60 years service.

Black History Month is not a new invention.  A version was started in the United States in 1926 and it has been a feature in the UK History calendar since 1987.  I am therefore surprised that it is still seen as something even vaguely controversial.  I saw a comment on a newspaper website recently that questioned the ‘need’  for Black History, after all, the rather angry poster asked, surely it is all British history?  This is the same logic that suggests that there is no need for a group to study the policing of railways, docks and canals; surely this is just ‘police history’?  And police history is just part of the history of the criminal justice system, which is just part of the social history of the country etc, etc.

Black history is a well established field for academic study.  The experience of policing has traditionally been different for minority groups.  This is true both of officers and for the general public.  Capturing what has happened in the past is what history is all about.  Our duty as historians is to research, record, analyse and report.  No historian is forced to research what does not interest them and as a Group that encourages research we are all at liberty to seek out the past as we feel fit.  But if we ignore the individual and group histories that are part of our inheritance we will always have an incomplete story.  I want to embrace the opportunity to learn about our history from perspectives that sit outside my own experience and I would respectfully encourage others to join me.

Philip Trendall
October 2021


Also see:

John Kent – The First Black Police Officer: Maryport & Carlisle

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic History Research