History of the Brighton Police 1938-1967

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Blast wall being removed from the Town Hall Police Station 1945
Copyright County Borough of Brighton Police
WPC Eve on patrol in 1950 using the "loudspeaking telephone post" at the junction with Dyke Road and Mill Road. These posts were in use between 1938 and 1958 and enabled members of the public to communicate directly with police HQ in an emergency
Sussex Police Photo Archive 1950

Inspector Gerald W Baines of the Brighton Police compiled this history

The Post-war Period

The war-time amalgamation ended on 31 March 1947 and Brighton reverted to its former status as a County Borough force. A year earlier the ‘999’ emergency service came into being in the town and an information room was established at the Town Hall to receive these calls, with wireless equipment capable of one-way speech to wireless-equipped cars. A total of 2,570 ‘999’ calls were received in the first full year, and the success of the scheme can be judged from the fact that over 17,000 calls were received in 1966.

District Police Training Centres

During the period of amalgamation a joint criminal records office had been set up in Brighton and when the forces regained their separate identities, this record office was continued on a joint basis and shared by Brighton, East Sussex, Eastbourne and Hastings. These four forces also continued to operate a joint recruit training scheme at a school in Circus Street and later at Wellington Road in Brighton. In 1947 the District Police Training Centres were opened on a national basis and recruits were sent to these centres for their training.

On 1 October 1948 the emergency ambulance service ceased to be a police responsibility and the police ambulances were handed over to the Borough ambulance service. Oddly enough, this year saw the police first aid team again the winners of the ‘Pim’ trophy.

In 1949 the old training school at Wellington Road was converted into a police station and the force divided into two Divisions – headquarters and ‘A’ Division being based at the Town Hall and ‘B’ Division at Wellington Road. The traffic offices, information room, criminal records office and the social club were also moved from the Town Hall and war-time battle headquarters to Wellington Road. It was at this period that two-way wireless was introduced in the police: vehicles, and officers in the cars were able to transmit information back to the information room.

First-aid team

In 1950 the first-aid team won the Grand Priors Trophy, which has been described as ‘virtually the championship of the world’ and in the same year they also won the Leach Cup, the Corps Cup, the Sir William Gentle Cup, the Three Counties Shield, the Dewar Shield, the Trimble Trophy and the Hingston Bowl. A year later, when they acquired the ‘Pim’ trophy for the third time, they enjoyed the unique distinction of having won every major award open to police competitors within a period of twelve months. Following these successes, Superintendent H. W. Harmes, Sergeant N. W. Mc Lean and Constable H. A. Virgo were honoured by being admitted as Serving Brothers of the Order of St John of Jerusalem.

Captain Hutchinson continued his pioneering work in crime prevention an on 15 February 1951 a ‘Beat the Burglar’ exhibition was opened at the Corn Exchange by Sir Frank Newsam, KCB, KBE, CVO, MC, Permanent Under-Secretary of State, Home Department. No less than 18,000 people attended in nine days and it is satisfying to note that ‘breaking’ offences showed an appreciable decrease over the remainder of the year. Other similar exhibitions had been successfully staged since the end of the war.

In January 1951 a team policing system was introduced on ‘B’ Division, but was discontinued in October 1953.

Traffic

Traffic had built up again since the end of the war and the middle 1950s saw the peak of coach traffic in the town. The highest post-war figure was reached on a day in June 1952 when 530 coaches visited Brighton, but figures such as this were to decline in later years as the numbers of cars increased. This period also saw the change in uniform to open neck tunics and collars and ties, and the re-introduction of white helmets.

On 2 June 1953 a contingent of the force assisted the Metropolitan Police on the route of the Coronation procession and on 14 July 1954 another contingent took part in the Royal Review of the police in Hyde Park. In 1955 a further contingent from Brighton assisted the Metropolitan Police during the rail strike. In this year police hours were reduced to an 88-hour fortnight and for the first time police dogs were taken on the strength of the force in the shape of two alsatians.

By the time Captain Hutchinson retired in 1956 after 23 years as Chief Constable, the force had reached a strength of 277 men and 6 women and the fleet of vehicles totalled 20, including 5 motor cycles.

 

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