History of Hastings Police 1836-1967

Mr. Joseph Bell Chief constable
Sussex police

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

The General Strike, 1926

Special police arrangements were made during this period of national emergency, and there were no incidents worthy of mention in the Borough. The Watch Committee at their Meeting held on 14th May, 1926, commended the Force “on the excellent manner in which they performed the onerous duties which devolved upon them during the recent National Crisis” and “expressed the Committee’s high appreciation of the dignified and law abiding demeanour displayed by the inhabitants generally, which exemplary behaviour enabled the peace and quietude of the Borough to be so satisfactorily maintained”.

The Force becomes Mechanised

It was on 6th April. 1927, on the occasion of the visit to the Borough of H.R.H. The Prince of Wales that motor transport, in the shape of four privately-owned motor cycle combinations, was used for official Police purposes. The use and adaptability of such machines made a great impression upon the Chief Constable, and in a General Order dated 28th August. 1928. it was announced that two B.S.A. 9.86 h.p. motor cycle combinations had been purchased by the Police Authority and were to be used for the purposes of traffic patrol, transporting officers to scenes of crime, etc and for carrying dispatches.

Two 8 h.p. Morris coupes were taken into service in 1936, and additions have been made to the Police fleet of transport to effect mobility and for traffic patrol purposes. At the time of amalgamation the Force possessed :- four lightweight motor cycles, four 750 c.c. motor cycles, six saloon cars, a 15 seater Transit Bus, a dog handler’s van, and a Landrover with trailer. This indicates how the Force has kept pace with the increase in traffic, and the need for mobility in answering emergency calls.

The New Superintendents

In September, 1929. Superintendent H. G. French retired. and Inspector F. Philport was appointed to fill the vacancy. Mr. Philpott served until May, 1933. when Inspector and Chief Clerk W. J. Buddle became Superintendent. Mr. Buddle was also appointed Deputy Chief Constable on the 29th April. 1939. He retired on 31st March, 1944.

The Introduction of the Police Box System

Between 1929 and 1930 a considerable number of Police Boxes were built in the Borough, and in conjunction with these a revised Beat System was introduced in December, 1930. The Beats still had to be worked on prescribed routes and to a strict timetable. Under this system of patrolling it was possible for householders and criminals to log accurately the times at which constables would be in a particular area. This method of working also discouraged the initiative of the men working the patrols. In June. 1935 a new system of policing involving a redistribution of strength. and reorganisation of the Beats with discretionary working, came into operation.

The Resignation of Mr. Frederick James

On 31st May, 1933, Mr. James relinquished his command, which he had held since April. 1907, and Mr. Joseph Bell, Detective Superintendent in the Newcastle-on-Tyne City Police Force, was appointed to fill the vacancy.

Mr. Bell took prompt measures to improve communications within the Force; and a new telephone and signal system was installed and brought into operation in June, 1935. Additional Police Boxes and Pillars were erected and all were equipped with “Call Lights”,

The first Woman Police Constable is appointed

On 27th February 1937, Miss Joan E. Edwards was appointed, and since that date the authorised strength of policewomen has been increased to seven.

The Hastings Extension Act, 1937

When this Act came into operation on 1st April, 1938, it extended the Borough in the districts of Fairlight, Bachelor’s Bump, St Helen’s, Baldslow, Crowhurst Road, and Pebsham. The’ extended area was patrolled by three day and two night motor patrols.


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