History of Hastings Police 1836-1967

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Mr Charles Frederick Baker Chief Constable 1895-1907
Sussex Police
Mr Friderick James Chief Constable 1907-1933
Sussex Police
Crown Inspection 1913
Sussex Police
Mounted Police 1921
Sussex Police

Research and drafting undertaken by Mr Charles banks, a former Inspector of the Force 1967

Mr. Charles Frederick Baker

On 24th January, 1895. Mr. Charles Frederick Baker. an Inspector of the Criminal Investigation Department, New Scotland Yard. commenced his duties as Chief Constable, at a salary of £300 per annum. Thanks to the wise and capable stewardship of his predecessor, Mr. Glenister, the new Chief Constable found morale in the Force excellent, but under strength and lacking in some essentials. A Police Surgeon was appointed in March, 1895, and Inspector Streeter, who was then aged 66 years and had 40 years’ Police Service, was appointed Superintendent with a wage of a £2.15s. 0d. per week. He retired on pension in 1903. For the first time in the history of the Force a Promotion Examination was held and the Committee agreed in August 1895, to 14 additional constables and 3 sergeants being appointed. The strength of the Force at this time was 1 Chief Constable, Superintendent, 2 Inspectors, 10 Sergeants (including 3 detectives), and 57 Constables. Some of the extra strength was required for the manning of the new Police Stations at Bohemia and Clive Vale, which were opened in November and September of that year. The Central Police Station at the rear of the new Town Hall, in Queen’s Road, had been opened in September, 1881.

On 9th November, 1897, the Borough of Hastings was extended to include Silverhill, Hollington and Ore and the County Police Stations in the last two named locations were transferred to the County Borough Force. Consequent upon the increase in the area to be policed. The authorised establishment of the Borough Force was augmented by 1 Inspector, 1 Station Sergeant, 4 Section Sergeants, 4 Acting Sergeants and 11 Constables. For Police purposes the Borough was divided into three Divisions – “A” (or Central), “B” (or Eastern), and “C’ (or Western). The route for working the Beats was laid down and had to be patrolled strictly within the times allotted.

The appointment of Mr. Frederick James as Chief Constable

In 1907 Mr. Baker resigned, and Mr. Frederick [arnes, O.B.E., was appointed to succeed him. Mr. James, who had served in the Plymouth City Police, was a first-class administrator, and although a strict disciplinarian, he was held in high esteem. One of his early reforms was to reduce the daily duty of all Inspectors and Station Sergeants from 12 to 8 hours.

It was customary just before Christmas every year for the Chief Constable to publish a Force Order as follows :-

“During the ensuing festive Season, when persons in mistaken kindness offer Intoxicating Liquors to members of the Force, the Chief Constable hopes that everyone will resist temptation in every shape and form, and stringently observe the regulations pertaining to such matters, and so, when the Season has passed, have nothing but pleasant memories of Christmas tide.

The Chief Constable wishes every Member of the Force the Compliments of the Season”.

When Superintendent Markwick retired on pension in October 1908, Inspector Lowe was appointed to be his successor. The Watch Committee approved in February, 1909, of the institution of the rank of “Sub-Inspector” for Station Sergeants, and this hybrid rank was maintained until about the beginning of the Second World War.

Another innovation came into operation in April, 1910. when the Watch Committee took over the tenancy of a house in Station Road as a “Detention Home”, with a Sub-Inspector and his wife in charge. The implementation of the Police Weekly Rest Day Act in 1911 necessitated the strength of the Force being increased by six men.

When Superintendent Lowe retired in September, 1912 Inspector Kenward was promoted as his successor.

In October of that year Inspector Walls of the Eastbourne Borough Police was shot dead by a housebreaker, and at his funeral a large contingent of the Hastings Police, together with their Band, attended to pay their last respects to their fallen comrade.

The Great War 1914 – 1918

At the outbreak of the War eight Constables, who were Reservists, were immediately called to serve with the Colours, and consequently the strength of the Force was seriously depleted. In October, 1914, the First Police Reserve of Police pensioners were brought on the strength, and throughout the War these men were in charge of the Sub-Stations, thus releasing the Acting Sergeants for street duty.

During both Wars. Hastings was a Garrison town, and in particular, there were large formations of Canadian troops stationed in the area, The town was not subjected to any enemy action during the First World War.

The Police Strike, 1919

The Peace of 1918 found that the cost of living had risen very steeply, and the pay of the Police Force had lagged so far behind the average wages being paid to other work-people that many married policemen were in financial straits. A Police Union was formed and members were recruited from the Forces throughout the country, with the object of securing a better standard of living.

Nine members of the Hastings Borough Police joined this Union, but declined to comply with the Union’s call for strike action, especially as an interim pay award had been given whilst a Royal Commission under the Chairmanship of Lord Desborough was investigating the pay and conditions of service of the Police. The “Desborough Report” is now regarded as one of the most important events and the turning point for the improvement of the Service generally.

Superintendent Barnes

When Superintendent Kenward retired in May, 1920 Inspector Barnes was promoted to fill the vacancy. He served in this capacity until 31st October, 1923.

Superintendent H. G. French

He was appointed Superintendent and Chief Clerk on 16th November, 1923.

The Use of a Motor Ambulance in cases of illness or accident in the streets

Until December. 1923, persons taken ill in the streets, or who had become accident casualties, were conveyed to hospital in a hand litter in charge of the Police. This primitive method was abolished in 1923 when the Watch Committee made arrangements for the St. John Ambulance Brigade motor ambulance to be used. It was not until 1933, however, that the Police were relieved of conveying bodies to the Mortuary by means of hand litters, when the Police Authority purchased a utility van.

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