Pocket Wireless

Personal Wireless
Alderman Herbert Hone 1938
Sussex Police
Clearly a Brighton bobby

My predecessor, Mr. Charles Griffin, was very keenly interested in perfecting a scheme for providing pocket wireless sets for the Police, and after carrying out experiments over a lengthy period he achieved such a standard of success that he decided to introduce their use into this Force.

He may justly claim to be the pioneer of Police Pocket Wireless, because it can, I believe, be rightly said that Brighton Borough Police Force was the first Force in the world to have this system. Its adoption received kindly encouragement both from the Home Office and your Committee, and its inauguration was watched with great interest throughout the Police world.

A broadcast transmitter was erected at the top of the Town Hall, and thirty pocket sets were distributed to the Uniform Patrols, Detective Staff and Motor Vehicles. This occurred on the 14th September (1933) and since the 1st December, I have keenly interested myself in the development and working of the system.

The initial difficulties were overcome by a keen and competent staff and I must pay tribute to the enthusiasm with which the sets were received and handled by the men whose lot it was to carry and operate them.

The scheme is now a practical working proposition and the results achieved are very satisfactory.

As an indication of the possibilities of the use of such a local scheme, the theft of an overcoat was reported to the police. A message was broadcast and a constable who received it arrested the thief with the stolen property within 15 minutes of the message being received by him.

The experience gained has been extremely valuable in suggesting avenues for improvements in the future, and indicates a wider sphere of usefulness.

( These words I have copied form the Chief Constable’s Report of 1933, word for word as written in November 1933 by Captain William Hutchinson, one of the Force’s best Chiefs, who served in that capacity for 23 years, and throughout the war years.) 

The following has been taken from the Captain Hutchinson’s 1934 annual report.

Pocket Wireless.

Many enquiries from home and abroad have been received as to the efficiency of the Police Pocket Wireless sets, but it is not known that any other Force has installed a similar system. Wireless for Police purposes has usually favoured the use of receiving instruments on motor cars, and experiments are being carried out in other districts in the hope of establishing an efficient two-way speech system. The operation of wireless, when restricted to cars, must be very limited, as it is governed by the number of vehicles in use, and it is only in the bigger police districts where cost would be justified. The advantage of such a system is that orders can be spread quickly, but when these can only be received by two or three cars its success is restricted. In this direction the pocket set has achieved what it set out to do, not only in getting in touch with a large number of constables at one time, but directing the actions of the man on the beat. It is felt that this system is one which must specially appeal to the small and medium forces on the grounds of efficiency and economy, and that soon there should be a big step forward in its adoption. Many of the initial technical difficulties have been overcome, and the year’s use of the system has definitely established it as a practical working proposition.

The wireless sets have helped to effect captures in several instances when the offender might otherwise have escaped. Let me relate one as an illustration: –

‘In August last (1934) five men in a motor car obtained petrol at a garage in Patcham and left without paying. The proprietor at once telephoned the police, and a description of the car was immediately circulated by wireless. The car was intercepted by a motor-cycle patrol officer (carrying a pocket wireless set) and the occupants were detained. The owner of the garage, in a letter of appreciation to me, said “ Information phoned, received, wirelessed, intercepted and acted upon whilst a Chrysler car travels less than three miles would appear to me to be some sort of record.” 

The detective car has been carrying a ‘Philco’ loud speaker set for several months, and it has given very satisfactory service.

 Bearing in mind how early this was in modern communications, the Chief Constable has every right to be excited with this ‘new toy.’

Brighton police radio system. Call sign GTN

The Brighton Police system uses Telephony and a bell call system. It came into operation in September 14th 1933 and was due to the foresight of the then Chief Constable Charles Griffin. Having received Rome on a table wireless he thought that it must be possible for police messages to be sent over the few miles covered by the Brighton Borough Police area to small transportable wireless sets. He commissioned one of his officers, a radio enthusiast to build a set, but this was too bulky for practical purposes but the experiments were published and came to the attention of an amateur wireless engineer Colin Begbie, who at the time was unemployed. He came up with a design for a single valve regenerative receiver, which was small enough to fit in a police officer’s tunic breast pocket. This had a separate earpiece but not the small earpiece we associate with modern police radios but more the size of a telephone handset. 30 sets were purchase at a cost of ?443.10s equivalent to about ?21000 in 2014 and Begbie was appointed to the CID staff. This system operated on 147.8 metres 2030Kcs. The transmitter, which was built by Plessey and had a power output of 100w, was located in the Town hall with the aerial on the roof. The transmitter is described in Post office technical report TCB226/247 September 1933, as using a free running oscillator using a Mullard T61D valve in a reverse feedback circuit, which is shunt fed. Modulation is by choke control with a Reiss microphone being amplified by a 3 stage, LF amplifier feeding a Mullard DO200 valve.

 When the transmitter was operated this caused a drop in the current in the anode circuit of the receiver. This caused a relay to operate and a bell to ring. The officer would take out the earpiece and hold it to his ear and at the same time pressing a button. This deactivated the relay stopped the bell and fed audio to the earpiece. The message would then be passed by voice in a code or an instruction given to attend a police box for the officer to be given further information. The code used was very rudimentary with essentially word substitution for offences and instructions.   Brick-Burglary, Frog-Fraud, Hoax-Housebreaking.   pmrconversion.info

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