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Further details about Wolverhampton Borough Police Force from the Chief Constable’s Report Book:

Among other things, the book deals a lot with police officer’s pay. Where details are given of the men who have enlisted in the army, the Chief Constable discusses arrangements for looking after their wives and children. Whatever arrangements have been made are clearly not sufficient, as by 2 October 1918 he notes that a group of wives of police officers serving in the armed Forces are asking for an increased allowance of 12/6 per week, which is half of the Bonus paid to Constables. Written in red pen across this entry are the words “not dealt with”…

He is also accutely aware of the pressure of the increased workload that the War is having on the PCs who remain at the Force. For example, on 18 October 1915 he discusses a letter he received from members of the Force “relative to loss of leave since the commencement of the War.”, as he has had to refuse most requests for leave. He recommends additional pay as recompense. In November 1916, he recommends an additional War bonus of 2/6 be given to sergeants and PCS, with the Inspectors getting a War Bonus of 5 s.

Another recurring theme in the Book is the threat of air raids. On 1 February 1915, the Chief Constable discusses measures “respecting a reduction, or extinction, of lights in the event of an Air Raid by the Army”. To ensure this, he has made arrangements to cut off the electricity at the substation and to reduce the gas by 50%. He has also consulted with the Chief Superintendant at Bilston regarding this “but he has received no instructions – it appears to me that it would be well to draw the attention of the Army Joint Committee to this matter so that action might be taken” in Wolverhampton and the adjoining districts. He also made suitable arrangements with other Chief Constables in the area, including Birmingham. On 6 March 1916, the following entry can be found:

Last evening telephone message was received from Exchange:

“Home Forces Order, Air Raid action . No preliminary notice had been received and therefore the general instructions had not been complied with.

Immediate action was taken […] in this matter.

Nothing further was heard until 10.30 from when message came:

Home Force Order – Air Craft over Coast going west by North

Following the above, the Chief Constable appears to be concerned about the ability to alert people in the case of an air raid. On 3 July 1916 he asks for an extra telephone “since the police are responsible for warning so many people. In case of air raid the Chief Constable could require free access to the telephone.” By 2 July 1917, he appears to have a plan in place for future air raids:

After consultation with the Chairman: complete arragenments have been made to mobilize the Regular and Special Police – Fire Brigade to stand by and as far as practicable warn the most important works and Institutions. No warning to the Public to be given.

One final interesting point is the shortage of serving police officers due to them being called up to the armed Forces. The Chief Constable increasingly relies on Special Constables, brings back Constables from retirement and even, on 2 July 1917, asks the Watch Committee “for power to employ women patrols on the streets, or to do any other duty such as visiting Public Parks, Theatres, and particularly work among their own sex and juveniles.” Unfortunately, there is little further information about the employment of women in this capacity, and it is not clear how widespread this was.

 

 

 

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