Celebrating 50 years of Sussex Police, lets take a look back at their Chief Constables and their extraordinary stories.
Henry Soloman – 1838-1844
While in 1968, Brighton police amalgamated with East Sussex Constabulary, West Sussex Constabulary, Hastings and Eastbourne Constabularies, to form the Sussex Police Constabulary we know today; their very first Chief Constable, a certain Henry Soloman, maintains the privileged position as being the only serving Chief Constable in British history to be murdered by a prisoner.
Regarded as a extremely gifted man; and well respected to have earned the position of Chief Constable in light of his Jewish background; (which back in the mid-19th century was more of a hindrance rather than a positive); Henry Soloman was murdered by a 23 year old man called John Lawrence.
John Lawrence was a petty crook who familiarized himself with the underbelly of Brighton’s life, rubbing shoulders with a thieves and living off the proceeds of a well known Brighton prostitute called Hastings Bet.
The events which lead to Soloman’s murder kicked off with the arrest of Lawrence for stealing a carpet from a shop in St James Street, with the intention of selling it on to secure the funds for a drink down the pub.
The story goes that the night before, Lawrence and his friends had been out drinking and the following morning needed a drink, hence the robbery.
Lawrence was arrested and brought to Brighton’s police station to be interviewed by Soloman himself. It was whilst waiting for the appropriate witness to arrive and identify him, Lawrence was told to sit in a chair by the fire.
Believing Lawrence to be of no discernable threat, Soloman walked past Lawrence, who unexpectedly reached out for a poker, resting beside a nearby fireplace, and struck Solomon across the back of the head.
Solomon fell to the floor with a fractured skull from which he was never to recover. No reason for Lawrence’s action was ever established and ironically the witness to his earlier crime failed to identify him.
With genuine and sincere grief over his death, huge crowds turned out for Henry’s funeral. Testimony to Soloman’s popularity, a public collection around town raised a whopping £500. Even Queen Victoria donated £50, as did the Duke of Richmond who donated £30 and the local Jewish community £52.
Ultimately a little over £1,000 was raised for his wife and children, and Soloman was buried in the Jewish cemetery in Ditchling Road.
Lawrence was tried at Lewes, found guilty and executed in Horsham prison all within three weeks. His trial barely took three hours and the jury only twelve minutes to find him guilty. Around a couple of thousand people watched his hanging and he was buried within the prison grounds.
As the last person to be executed at the Horsham prison, Lawrence became a bit of a celebrity, so they dug him up and put his body on display in the stable of the nearby Queens Head and charged punters 2d to view him.
As such, Henry Soloman is best remembered for having the dubious distinction of being the only Chief Constable to be killed whilst in office in 1844.
Now I bet you never knew that!
Thomas Williams – 1968-1972
And now on-wards to the Chief Constables (CC) of Sussex police since 1968; kicking off with Thomas Williams, Chief Constable from 1968, until his death in 1972.
Sadly history hasn’t recorded the exploits of Thomas Williams, which means we move swiftly onto George Terry, Sussex CC from 1973 to 1983.
George Terry – 1973-1983
With a claim to fame as being one of the youngest CC in English history, George Terry was first CC of Pembrokeshire Police in 1958, at the age of 35, before going onto be CC of East Sussex, Lincolnshire and ultimately Sussex CC in 1973.
Jointly with his successor Roger Birch, Terry served 10 years as CC from 1973 to 1983, and was most memorably remembered for implementing a range of modernizing reforms, including:
⦁ Improving communication systems
⦁ Introducing motor scooters for women police officers
⦁ Introducing reflective strips on the side of police cars
⦁ Introduce more comfortable uniforms for women officers
⦁ Opening a computerized command centre
⦁ Reforming the command structure
An expert on traffic management and Chairman of the Traffic Committee (1976–79), Terry was also President of the Association of Chief Police Officers for the year 1980–81.
As with CC’s yet to come, Terry courted controversy, when as chairman of Polygraph Security Services, the British company offering lie detector tests, he famously refused to submit a list of his clients to the House of Commons Employment Select Committee, who had asked him to submit a list of clients to them for investigation.
Citing privacy concerns, Terry was in danger of being reported to the Commons for contempt if he continued to refuse, but resigned from the post in July 1984 to avert such action ever happening.
In 1967, Terry was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal (QPM). Many Sussex CC’s would also be awarded the QPM; and he was further decorated by Queen Elizabeth II, with his appointment as Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1976 and knighthood in 1982.
Terry died on 18 August 1995, and was recorded by the Telegraph newspaper as, “one of the most respected policemen of his generation … a tall, handsome man of enormous vitality, he rejuvenated each command with ruthless perfectionism, and won a reputation as an outstanding innovator”.
After which we move swiftly onto Roger Birch.
Roger Birch – 1983-1993
After only a year in his post, Roger Birch was the CC responsible for managing the aftermath of the 1984 IRA bombing of Brighton’s Grand Hotel, which of course you will know, killed five people, injured dozens more and nearly killed the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.
A huge challenge for any CC, Birch rose to the task of coordinating a huge police and emergency service operation, taking charge of an investigation which shocked the world.
Tasked with keeping the conference going and the countries reputation intact, Birch, who would later become Sir Roger Birch, led a minutely detailed and intensive investigation into the murder and mayhem caused by the bombing, which would eventually lead to the conviction of Provisional IRA activist Patrick Magee.
Paul Whitehouse – 1993-2001
Paul Whitehouse hit the headlines in 2001 following his resignation from his post, following the fatal shooting of James Ashley, 39, an unarmed man, who laid naked in his bed with his girlfriend, when he was shot and killed.
The then Home Secretary in Tony Blair’s government, David Blunkett, put pressure on Whitehouse to resign. He effectively invited the now defunct Sussex Police Authority, to dismiss Whitehouse if it wanted to restore public confidence in the county’s police force.
Retiring on a full pension; (a common trend among police officers who found themselves facing disciplinary action), Whitehouse maintained he had done nothing wrong, and that his police officers acting professionally, so much so that he promoted the two police officers after the event.
He said at the time, “I have done nothing wrong. I have behaved to the highest standards of integrity that I expect all my officers to have.”
Ashley was shot by a member of PC Chris Sherwood, a member of Sussex police Special Operations Unit, when it raided a flat in St Leonards, Hastings, in January 1998. Officers had been told that two men, probably armed, were in the flat with a large quantity of drugs.
Ashley, who had a conviction for manslaughter, was in bed with his girlfriend when the police broke in. He was shot when he apparently went to turn on a light.
PC Sherwood would later be acquitted of murder and manslaughter at the Old Bailey. Charges of criminal misconduct against four senior officers involved in planning the raid were also dropped.
The final straw appears to be Whitehouse’s subsequent decision to go ahead with the promotion of two of the officers and backdate their pay increases precipitated the events that led to his resignation. The move angered members of the police authority, who were not consulted. One source said it was the “final straw”.
Clearly defiant and insistent that he had done nothing wrong, Whitehouse said, “My integrity is my most important possession and to hear it called into question both hurts and angers me. I shall now carefully consider what action to take in respect of the scurrilous accusations that have been made against me.”
He questioned Mr Blunkett’s role and said, “politicians should avoid looking for scapegoats when faced with the consequences of fighting crime.”
“I hope he realizes that if he wants us to be firm in our fight against drugs then officers will have to make decisions that may have unfortunate consequences. It is essential in these circumstances that these officers are supported, providing they have acted with integrity themselves.”
It’s a shame that Whitehouse’s time in office ended in such disgrace, though allegations of cover-up and misconduct were also levelled against him and Sussex police, following the murder of 19 year old Katrina Taylor in 1996, and accused of ignoring corruption in Wealden District Council.
⦁ Paul Whitehouse – Bushywood
To learn more about Katrina Taylor and the subsequent murder cover up, I would highly recommend you check out the following blogs published by ‘Taylor Investigations.‘
⦁ Katrina Taylor’s murder is being erased from history
⦁ Katrina Taylor unsolved murder cover-up
⦁ Momentum is growing for the re-investigation of the 1996 murder of Katrina Taylor
Kenneth Lloyd Jones – 2001-2006
Considered by many as the best CC Sussex Police has ever had, Kenneth (Ken) Lloyd Jones, was the man left responsible for sorting out the mess left by his predecessor, Mr Whitehouse.
Awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in 2000 and knighted in 2009, Sir Ken Lloyd Jones, first found leadership as the Deputy Commissioner of Victoria Police in Australia.
Coming to the UK, he served in a number of cities including Sheffield, Rotherham, Barnsley and Doncaster gaining experience with community beat duties, specialist detective work and the use of firearms.
Gaining a reputation as an ‘honest cop,’ he gained further experience abroad working as an anti corruption investigator in Hong Kong and as an election monitor in Zimbabwe.
Sir Ken also served in Africa (Zimbabwe-Rhodesia), the United States (as a Fulbright Scholar at UCLA in 1996) and Hong Kong (in the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)). He was appointed Assistant Chief Constable of the Avon and Somerset Constabulary in 1997 and ultimately become Sussex CC in 2001.
Though even an honest cop isn’t immune from controversy and scandal. After leaving Sussex Police in 2006, Sir Ken would later go back to Australia and serve in the Victoria Police Force, where he became the subject of death threats.
This signaled the start of the complicated relationship at the top of Victoria Police concerning the integrity of the presentation of crime statistics to the public.
An investigation by the Office of Police Integrity in Victoria police, would later conclude that Sir Ken did not engage in serious misconduct by leaking or facilitating leaking to the media of confidential police information, and was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing during his time at Victoria Police Force.
Joseph Edwards – 2006-2007
Joseph Edwards joined Sussex Police in 2002 as deputy chief constable and took on the top job in February 2006.
The third Sussex CC to be awarded the Queen’s Police Medal in the New Year Honours List, Edwards was praised by Peter Jones, the Chairman of the now defunct Sussex Police Authority, as responsible for increasing public confidence in Sussex police to record levels.
Jones is quoted to have said, “Joe will be a hard act to follow and we are all very sorry to see him go.”
He joined Hampshire Constabulary as a PC in 1980, where he rose through the ranks to Chief Superintendent. He was divisional commander at Havant from 1994 to 1997.
He moved to Essex on promotion to Assistant Chief Constable in 1999, where he was involved in two high-profile policing operations – the Korean air crash of 1999 and a hijacking in 2000.
Lasting as the CC for only a year, we move swiftly onto Martin Richards; also a recipient of the Queen’s Medal.
Martin Richards – 2008-2014
Possibly the most controversial CC Sussex police has ever had, Martin Richards would later go onto retire early, having just had his contract extended by a year.
According to Wikipedia, Richards joined Warwickshire Police in 1982, where he was stationed across a range of geographical areas in numerous roles. His command positions included District Commander at Nuneaton, Head of Communications, Performance Review Manager, and a short period as Head of CID. He also served for two years in National Police Training as Head of Recruit Training Center at Ryton-on-Dunsmore.
After obtaining his Criminology degree, Richards was promoted to Assistant Chief Constable at Avon and Somerset Constabulary in 1998. He was promoted to Deputy Chief Constable in 2002.
Richards was appointed Chief Constable of the Wiltshire Police in September 2004. While he was Chief Constable, he oversaw “Optimus”, a 12-month program of modernization and reform within the Force, as well as a collaborative project involving all five Forces within the South West region.
CC of Sussex police from 2008 to 2014, it was revealed via a Freedom of Information request that in the last year of his office, he was investigated for misconduct for a total of 14 times. All 14 cases were found to ‘unsubstantiated’ and no action was taken.
Richards was also investigated by the then Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) for using undue influence regarding an operational policing issue.
He was later found to have no case to answer, after an anonymous allegation was made against him following a referral from the now defunct, Sussex Police Authority.
Richards appeared to have as many detractors as he had supporters. For example, according to ‘The Captain Swing Journal‘ he was “Overpaid and overdue for the chop.”
Captain Swing continues, “He’s a man that has not done a day’s proper policing work in his whole career. He started as a graduate recruit and went straight into senior positions with Warwickshire Police , within twelve years he became CC of Wiltshire and lucky old Sussex was next in line for his common purpose improvement by destruction method of running a Police service.”
In the video below we hear from a popular blogger called ‘Sam’, who calls attention his connection with ‘Common Purpose‘, an otherwise inconspicuous organization who run courses which give people the skills, connections and inspiration to become better leaders both at work and in society.
Last but not least, the present CC of Sussex, the cracking fellow, Giles York.
Giles York – 2014 – Present
A keen conker player and the fifth CC to be awarded the Queen’s Medal in her New Year’s Honour List, Giles York has recently hit the headlines following the drone fiasco of Christmas 2018, which brought Gatwick airport to standstill, leaving a whopping 140,000 holidaymakers inconvenienced across the busy Christmas period.
Accused of dodging the tough questions by the Daily Mail newspaper, York has been accused of ducking the press when his force is in trouble, but courting publicity for positive PR stories including police donations to charity, Brighton’s Gay Pride and sponsorship of a large statue of a cartoon dog in Brighton.
⦁ From playing Santa to CONKERS! How police chief who was under fire over Gatwick drone chaos has history of dodging tough questions (but is happy to pose for positive PR shots)
York was famously once heard saying, that while he is happy to reveal how much he earns as CC (£196,000 a year,) he isn’t prepared to reveal what he spends his money on.
Leaving many to speculate as to whether he has a secret hobby he doesn’t want anyone to know about, York is seen as a popular leader, well liked by his rank and file.
And so there you have it; a look back to the CC who have occupied the top seat at Sussex Police.
Celebrating 50 years of Sussex Police, we can only look on with enthusiasm and wonder, what the next 50 years will bring.
Sussex Chief Constables over the last 50 years.
- 1968–1972 : Thomas Christopher Williams
- 1973–1983 : George Terry
- 1983–1993 : Roger Birch
- 1993–2001 : Paul Chapple Whitehouse
- 2001–2006 : Kenneth Lloyd Jones
- 2006–2007 : Joseph Edwards
- 2008–2014 : Martin Richards
- 2014–Present : Giles York
- Giles York
- Martin Richards
- Paul Whitehouse
- George Terry
- Henry Soloman
YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY READING: