Weeke local History - Hampshire Police Headquarters


Hampshire Police Headquarters

The origin of the British police force is based on historic customs for securing order through the use of appointed representatives. The Saxons introduced the concept of the tything-man. The population was divided into groups of ten with a tything-man as representative of the group. Then each group of ten tythings had a ‘hundred-man’ who was responsible to the Shire-reeve, or Sheriff of the County.

This developed eventually under the Normans into the Parish Constable and the Justice of the Peace rather than the Shire-reeve. The Parish Constable was generally, one unarmed able-bodied citizen in each Parish who was appointed or elected annually to serve for a year unpaid.

In the reign of Henry VIII watchmen were appointed to help the constables in larger towns and cities. These watchmen patrolled the streets at night carrying a lantern and cutlass. They were known as ‘Charlies’ during the reign of Charles II.

During the fifteenth and much of the sixteenth centuries the Parish Constable was probably the most important of the four annually elected officers of the parish, the others being, the Churchwarden, the Surveyor of the Highways, and the Overseer of the Poor. This position was held in rural areas well into Victoria’s reign, right up to the 1850’s.

Many men bought their way out of serving as parish constable, a formerly honourable office. The police work was unpaid and took up much of the time that could have been spent making profit from regular employment. A constable’s duties were based upon common law but were extended by Parliament.

The Constables became the hands and eyes of the Justices. They supervised the watchmen, enquired into offences, served summonses, executed warrants, organised the 'Hue and Cry', took charge of prisoners and prosecuted them, in general, obeyed the orders of the Justices (URL32).

In the eighteenth century came the beginnings of immense social and economic changes and the consequent movement of the population to the towns. The parish constable and "Watch" systems failed completely and the impotence of the law-enforcement system became a major problem. This lead to action by Parliament to create the idea of a funded police force.

In 1829, when Sir Robert Peel was Home Secretary, the first Metropolitan Police Act was passed and the Metropolitan Police Force was established. This new force superseded the local Watch in the London area but the City of London was not covered.

Based on this activity the Winchester City Council decided to introduced its own police force in 1832. Winchester was the first town in Hampshire to establish a town police force. Other towns in Hampshire followed Winchester’s lead with Portsmouth, Southampton, Basingstoke, Romsey, Lymington and Andover forming their own forces in 1836. The first Isle of Wight force was established in 1837 (Lee et al, 2001).

The Winchester force initially consisted of eight officers. Winchester suffered from the same rapid turnover that Hampshire was to suffer later, and that was due to drunkenness in the ranks. Only three of the officers lasted more than a year. The Head Constable also left in 1833, and was replaced by a an ex-Metropolitan officer, William Sheppard. Sheppard was to remain in post until 1851 when he resigned. He was replaced by Henry Hubbersley, also from the Metropolitan Police (URL33).

The Winchester force was eventually housed on the site of the earlier Bridewell in the High Street near Abbey Gardens. The Bridewell was used to house prisoners who were put to work and were used for lesser offences. The Winchester Police force remained on the Bridewell site until the 1940s when they were finally amalgamated into the Hampshire force. The Police Station was rebuilt as part of the Guildhall opening in 1873 (Carpenter Turner, 1986).

The Winchester City force was to remain seperate from the County Constabulary until 1943. There were several attempts to combine the two forces at earlier dates, but the City fathers were suspicious of such moves and blocked each attempt at combining them (Lee et al, 2001).

All early Police forces followed the lead of the Metropolitan Police by clothing their policemen in tailed coats and Top Hats called ‘stove pipes’. The use of blue material was used and has continued to modern times. The early ‘uniform’ was used to try and get the public to see the police as quite separate from the military forces and allow the policeman to blend into the population at large. The use of ‘helmets’ was started in 1869 and over the years developed into the modern design used now (URL34).

In 1839 Parliament passed the County Police Act which lead to Hampshire Constabulary being formed in 1839. It was to consist of a Chief Constable , two Superintendents one for Headquarters in Winchester and one for the Isle of Wight. 13 other Superintendents were recruited and 91 constables. The Chief Constable was paid £300, with £100 for the purchase and forage for two horses. The Senior Superintendents were paid £120 , the junior ones £75 per annum and Constables between 18 and 21 shillings per week (Lee et al, 2001).

The first Chief Constable was Captain George Robbins of Hythe in Hampshire and staff came from far and wide. Discipline was harsh in the early days and did not start to relax until the 1970s. Without any form of communication, officers were left very much to their own initiative. It was important for them to 'make points', where they met their sergeant at a set time and location. Failure to make these meetings lead to fines and if this persisted it could lead to dismissal. If they made these meetings and were drunk or found in inappropriate circumstances then dismissal could occur. Many officers were disciplined for drunkenness or for receiving gifts of any kind (Watt, 2006).

Restrictions on the private lives of officers were also very strict. Up until the late 1980s officers had to ask permission as to where they could live and whether they could get married. The behavior of wives could also affect the record of an officer.

Officers agreed when joining the Constabulary to work anywhere in the force area. This could lead to sudden and frequent changes in locations across Hampshire.

The first headquarters building was built on the present headquarters site in Romsey Road situated next to the prison in 1847 (URL33).

In the whole life of the Hampshire Constabulary there have only been 11 Chief Constables, these have been :-

Captain George Robbins (1839 – 1842) He was born in Hythe Hampshire and had been a Regular Army Officer and had a very good military career when he took the role as the first Chief Constable.

Captain William Charles Harris (1842 - 1856) He was previously a member of 68th Regiment of Light Infantry and had spent 4 years in Ireland aiding civil police. He resigned in 1856 to take up Assist Commissioner of the Met Police. He was remembered for improving organisation and reducing crime.

Captain John Henry Forrest (1856 – 1891) He was previously in charge of Nottingham police. He was a strict disciplinarian and by 1855 the Force was up to 235 from the original 106. He retired in 1891.

Captain Peregrine Henry Thomas Fellowes (1891 – 1893) He had been a member of 31st (east Surrey) Regiment in 1873. He served in Australia reaching Assist Adjutant General. He also spent some time at Tipperary in Ireland. In 1893 he was seriously injured when he tried to stop a runaway horse in Winchester. A horse & trap was careering down the steep hill past the Police HQ. He with several other officers tried to stop the horse. He was crushed against the stone wall of the Police HQ and died of his injuries several weeks later.

Major St Andrew Bruce Warde (1894 – 1928) He was appointed in Feb 1894 following the tragic death of his predecessor. He saw the Force through the turn of the century and the Great War. He retired with ill health in December 1928 and died December 1929.

Major Ernest Radcliffe Cockburn (1928 – 1942) He joined the Army in 1894 and served in the 2nd Wiltshire Regiment in the South African War. He also served in the Manchester Regiment. He left the Army in 1919 and became Chief Constable of Ayr. He joined Hampshire in 1928 and was awarded the CBE in 1938 and then retired in 1942.

Richard Dawney Lemon (1942 – 1962) He was in the West Yorkshire Regiment for 3 years and then joined the Met Police in 1934. He moved to Leicester in 1937 as an Inspector and was appointed Assist Chief Constable of East Riding in 1939. He is remembered for setting up the CID in Hampshire. He left Hampshire in 1962 to become Chief Constable of Kent.

Douglas Osmond (1962 – 1977) He had been in the Royal Navy and the Met Police during the War. After the War he was made Chief Constable of Shropshire from 1946. He came to Hampshire in 1962 and during his period as Chief Constable he oversaw the integration of Portsmouth and Southampton Police Forces into the Hampshire Constabulary. This was the final stage of amalgamation of forces within Hampshire. He was knighted in 1976 and retired in 1977.

John Duke (1977 – 1988) He came to Hampshire from Essex Police Force. He was responsible for introducing the Air Support unit into the force. He retired in 1988 and died in 1989.

John Hoddinott (1988 – 1999) Both John's father and grandfather had been joined the Hampshire Police, but John joined the Met Police and served with them until he was made Assist Chief Constable of Surrey Police. He came to Hampshire in 1983 as the Deputy Chief Constable and moved up to Chief Constable in 1988. He was a prominent Chief Constable who was President of the Association of Chief Police Officers in 1995. He played a major role in the development of Automatic Fingerprint Recognition and the security inquiry after the bombing of the Grand Hotel in Brighton in 1984. He was awarded the CBE in 1994 and was knighted in 1998. He retired in 1999 and tragically died in 2001.

Paul Kernaghan (1999 - ) He worked in the Ulster Defence Regiment where he was commissioned in 1976. He joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1978 and then transferred to West Midlands Police Force as an Superintendent. In 1995 he was appointed Assist Chief Constable in North Yorkshire. In 1996 he was designated Deputy Chief Constable in North Yorkshire and was made Chief Constable of Hampshire in 1999. (Lee et al, 2001)

It can be seen that as the Hampshire Constabulary has developed over the years the Chief Constable role was intially filled from the ranks of ex Army officiers. As the Police forces across the country have grown the Chief Constable role has been taken by a 'career' policeman with no army experience.

Over the years the various separate police forces set up in towns around Hampshire have amalgamated with the Hampshire force:-

Andover 1846
Lymington 1852
Romsey 1865
Basingstoke 1889
Winchester 1943
Isle of Wight 1943
Portsmouth 1967
Southampton 1967

The Hampshire Constabulary now controls all policing in Hampshire. In 1966 the original headquarters built in 1847 was demolished and the present headquarters built on the same site as the final amalgamation with Porsmouth and Southampton took place (HRO 140M98W/2/2).

Release 1.0 last update 02/09/08

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