Research into our latest book has gone at an astonishing speed with more than eighty images collected and recollections obtained or promised from over fifty retired officers in just two months. The book will cover the history of the West Midlands Police from 1974 to 1999 and will be a broad-ranging insight hopefully into as many departments and historical policing events as possible with an emphasis on ‘people’ with the service. In this post I am appealing for recollections and insight into the recruitment of Black and Minority Ethnic staff into WMP over that period. (the pictures shown are
circa 2000 following a visit by a senior Indian Police Officer to H2 OCU)
Today’s offering from our research for the new book ‘Reporting For Duty’ with accounts completed or promised from nearly fifty retired officers who were members of the West Midlands Police between 1974 and 1999 – ‘Between Wednesday 14th March 1984 and March 1985 the West Midlands Police provided officers on mutual aid to Cleveland, Derbyshire, Durham, Humberside, Leicestershire, North Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, and West Yorkshire Forces. More than 73,000 days were committed to the dispute during which ninety-two WMP officers were injured.’ Recollections would be welcomed. (photo courtesy of Paul Rainey)
The research for our new book ‘Reporting For Duty’ has gone at an astonishing pace and we now have nearly forty recollections from retired officers about different aspects of policing in the West Midlands Police between 1974 and 1999. The book will contain about one hundred images so space will be at a premium but today’s plea is for recollections from dog handlers who served during that period with stories to tell. (pictures are courtesy of a well-known handler on the ‘H’ namely Paul Richards, and feature ‘Max’ and ‘Jake’ who was one of, if not the first Rottweiler taken on by the Force.
Today’s post in this series – ‘In 1975 the Sex Discrimination Act came into Force at the end of the year. This led to the abolition of dedicated Policewomen’s Departments and female officers performing the same duties as male colleagues for the same rates of pay. It was also the year that the age at which you could join the police was lowered to 18 and a half years. With 903 officer vacancies the West Midlands Police was also finally awarded an ‘under-manning allowance’ in recognition of the difficulties the Force faced. (Picture courtesy of Express & Star Walsall – twenty-five years on) We would welcome recollections from 1974-1999.
Today’s offering for our ‘Reporting For Duty’ series – ‘On the 1st May 1976 the West Midlands Police became responsible for policing Birmingham Airport (I seem to recall that there was a small ‘private’ police force at the airport before) . Officers who were selected to work there attended a one week bespoke training course at Tally Ho Police Training Centre in Edgbaston to acquaint themselves with airport procedures. There was an increase in the authorised establishment of the Force of thirty-eight officers to cater for this.’ It would be great to hear from former colleagues with experience of policing the airport between 1974 and 1999, or indeed any other recollections of policing major events from that period. After yesterdays post about football violence a former officer got in touch who was on duty at the match in question – another recollection for the book! (The picture is from one of the many great ‘Birmingham’ sites on social media and is of the old Elmdon Airport – acknowledged with thanks)
The next one in our new series relating to research for our new book ‘Reporting For Duty’ – the history of the West Midlands Police 1974 to 1999. Today’s is a subject which has been covered in detail in other books and arguably has not gone away – that of violence relating to football
– ‘On the 29th February 1992 Birmingham City FC played Stoke City in a league match at St Andrews in Birmingham. A serious disturbance took place involving a pitch invasion towards the end of the game. A post-incident investigation code-named Operation ‘Mission’ led to sixty-six people being arrested and charged.’ If anyone was at the match or involved in the investigation it would be great to hear from you. Research into the book is going well and we have already been contacted by thirty retired officers who have promised or already provided some exceptional memories.
The next small blog in our latest series whilst continuing to research the next book ‘Reporting For Duty’ – ‘In October 1980 a dispute involving officers from the Prison Service resulted in police cell-blocks around the West Midlands being used to house remand prisoners. In particular many were held in the Central Lock-Up next to Steelhouse Lane, in Birmingham city-centre. The action continued until the end of the year. In May the following year the dispute reared its head again when remand prisoners again found themselves in police cells for up to ten days.’ As a result of previous appeals we now have more than twenty recollections going into the book from people with memories of policing in the West Midlands between 1974 and 1999. We would of course welcome many more! (the picture features co-author Steve Burrows in the basement of the Lock-Up during an open-day – the facility is no longer in operational use.)
Today’s post from this latest little series is a bit of mixed bag. Many thanks to those who contributed memories of the ‘Battle of Digbeth’. The memories of Digbeth Police Station were also great – another book in its own right for someone to get their teeth into perhaps! ‘Reporting For Duty’ already contains some great memories and its only six weeks in the making. (It will cover the WMP Force History for the period 1974 to 1999) – ‘In January 1980 a march to commemorate ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Northern Ireland commenced in Sparkhill and terminated in Birmingham City-Centre at the Bull Ring. Seventeen arrests were made as outbreaks of disorder took place along the route. Eight hundred officers were on duty.’ Also in 1980 thirty West Midlands Officers, along with another fifty from across the UK went to Rhodesia (later to become Zimbabwe) to monitor the elections. In 1980 a total of 1,104 West Midlands Police Officers were assaulted with 558 classed as being serious and included two cases classed as attempted murder. We would like to hear from anyone with recollections please of these historical events, which will help to bring them to life. (The picture outside Woolworth’s in the Bull Ring is from social media and the ‘F’ Division pictures from an old Force newspaper – they have been on Deb Menzel’s pages before but bring back brilliant memories of colleagues, some of whom are no longer with us but will not be forgotten.
The history of Malvern, RAF Defford, Pershore Airfield and The Cold War in Worcestershire
George V1 at Malvern 1944
Testing at Defford – John Young
Amazon are currently giving 17% (£2.50) discount on Top Secret Worcestershire, selling it for £12.45 brand new with free postage. We don’t know how long they will continue this deal so get in quick. Link below.
Link to Amazon page
The next in our latest series of blog posts. If you get a few moments please have a look at some of our earlier ones on police slang etc in ‘How Policing Has Changed’. We are currently researching our latest book ‘Reporting For Duty’ which will cover the history of the West Midlands Police from 1974 to 1999 – ‘On the 28th April 1979 a National Front election meeting took place at Cronehills Primary School in West Bromwich. On the same day Enoch Powell MP gave a speech at a public meeting in Birmingham city-centre and the ‘rock against racism’ movement held a torch-light procession in the evening. All police leave in the Force was cancelled on the day. At West Bromwich twenty-seven arrests were made during clashes with protesters.’ We would be interested in hearing recollections from anyone involved with these demonstrations on this date.