Text Size

Current Size: 100%

Our history

Share by emailShare by email


The first Chief Constable of Nottingham, from 1814 to 1833, was Richard Birth. He wore a blue gown with gold braid and lived in the Mayor’s office in Greyhound Street, off Long Row, Nottingham. 


William Barnes became the next Chief, paid £142 a year with a house in Smithy Row and free light and coal. 


The Nottingham Reform Act was passed which brought about a new council to set up an efficient system of policing. The new Nottingham Borough Police started to operate in 1836 and consisted of 15 policemen supported by a group of watchmen. A Newark Borough Force was also set up under the leadership of Chief Constable Richard Bell, and Retford Borough Police which only existed for around five years before it was merged with the County Constabulary. 


Uniform included a single-breasted blue suit with white buttons marked with the Crown and the word ‘Police’. The collar was worn over a high leather stock and fastened with a brass buckle. An embroidered loop indicated the letter and number of the officer. Trousers were known as ‘pegtops’, boots were half Wellingtons and every officer wore a tall chimney-top hat with leather top and leather supports on either side. Complete with truncheon and rattle the uniform was extremely heavy – and members of the force had to wear it constantly. It wasn’t until 1869 that officers were allowed to wear their own clothes when they were off duty.


The first Criminal Investigation Department (CID) was introduced consisting of a Superintendent and four Constables. 


Joseph Hedington became Chief Constable.


John Freeman became Chief Constable.


Captain F Parry became Chief Constable. 


Major W.H. Poyntz became Chief Constable.


Samuel Stevens became Chief Constable.


Phillip Stephen Clay (former Chief Constable of Southampton) became Chief Constable.


The Police Weekly Rest Day Act was introduced giving every serving police officer 52 rest days a year, one to be taken every seven days. 


Lt. Col. F. Lemon was appointed Chief Constable. 


Outbreak of war meant that for the first time it became necessary to advertise for police recruits. Around 1,900 Special Constables were recruited for war reserve duties in their spare time without pay. Women were not allowed to become a Special until 1966. 


One of the most famous and influential Chief Constables of the era, Captain Athelstan Popkess, took up post. For the next 30 years he put Nottingham in the national spotlight with his innovations including the first forensic labs, first police dogs and first patrol cars with radios. 


The force’s fleet of seven cars and seven motorcycles was bolstered by an additional three motorcycles, due to the Road Traffic Act 1930 which stated that all police authorities must have effective motor patrols. 


Officers on 33 beats across Nottinghamshire began using pedal cycles for police duty. 


The City force was the first to introduce three-position photography (face forward and each side of the face) of criminals. This format is now used internationally.


The first six female constables were appointed. The rank of Chief Inspector appeared for the first time.


After the war the Newark Borough Force amalgamated with the Nottinghamshire Constabulary. Newark’s last Chief Constable Reginald Millhouse chose to continue serving as a Superintendent in the new force. It was in this year that a separate traffic and communications division was established.


Cadets, males only, between the ages of 16 and 18 first appeared on parade. Female cadets were introduced in 1966. 


Epperstone Manor became the new police headquarters. It was officially opened in 1954 by Sir David Fyfe, Secretary of State for the Home Department. 


Chief Constable Captain Popkess hit the front pages of the national newspapers when he called in detectives from the Metropolitan Police to investigate the bribery of Labour councillors on a visit to East Germany. The claims were never proved. Captain Popkess was suspended, although later reinstated following national outcry. He retired within months of reinstatement and never set foot in Nottingham again. He died in 1967. 


Thomas Moore OBE became Chief Constable. 


Nottingham City Police took delivery of their first all-white police cars. 


The County and City forces combined to form the Combined Constabulary. It consisted of approximately 1,572 men, 71 women and 122 cadets. The Chief Constable was John Browne who had previously been the Chief Constable of Notts County Constabulary. 


Rex Fletcher became Chief Constable following the retirement of John Browne. It was also the year when a Special Operations Unit was set up to be available for sudden emergencies and major incidents. 


Sherwood Lodge, Arnold, was acquired which would become the new Police Headquarters due to the force fast outgrowing Epperstone Manor. The new building, built at a cost of £3m, consisted of an operational unit, administrative wing and services block. Officers and staff moved into the building in 1979. 


The force took on a new title as part of the national reorganisation of local government – it became Nottinghamshire Constabulary. 


Chief Constable Rex Fletcher retired and was succeeded by a new chief from Lincolnshire called Charles McLachlan.


PC Christopher McDonald, a young constable, was killed while on duty in Worksop. You can read PC McDonald’s story by clicking on Our Heroes at the bottom of this page. 


Margaret Thatcher performed her first public engagement as Prime Minister when she attended a Cadet Annual Inspection at Epperstone Manor. In October HRH Princess Alexandra officially opened Sherwood Lodge. As part of the visit she met with ice skaters Torville and Dean as PC Christopher Dean joined the force as a cadet in 1974 and served as an officer for six. 


The miners’ strike resulted in violent clashes with police at many of the 25 collieries in Nottinghamshire. More than 3,000 officers were used at peak times and about 100,000 officers from across the entire police service were on duty in Nottinghamshire that year accommodated in military camps. By the end of 1984, 317 officers had been injured, 178 of which were local officers, 2,377 people had been arrested and in the first month of a 24-hour press bureau service there were 2,000 calls.


Ron Hadfield became Chief Constable following Charles McLachlan’s move to Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary. He placed an emphasis on improving relations with the public, the press and increasing police manpower. Arnold Police Station was opened this year in High Street, Arnold.


Home Secretary Douglas Hurd visited the Central Cell Block in Nottingham to meet some of the force’s 12 civilian detention officers. Nottinghamshire was the first force in the country to employ civilian staff in this job. 


Sir Dan Crompton became Chief Constable after 27 years at Greater Manchester Police. 


Colin Bailey became Chief Constable.


Steven Green was appointed Chief Constable.


Dog Section officer PC Ged Walker was tragically killed on duty as he was dragged by a stolen vehicle. You can read PC Walker's story in the Our Heroes pages at the bottom of this page. 


Julia Hodson became Chief Constable.


The Government's Comprehensive Spending Review concluded that core government funding for police forces would be cut by more than 20 per cent over the next five years. For Nottinghamshire Police this meant a reduction in funding of £42m by 2015. The force embarked on one of the biggest restructures of its time in a bid to make the force more efficient and effective in light of the government funding restraints. It was one of five forces across the country to use Regulation A19 of the Police Pensions Regulations 1987 to compulsory retire police officers with 30 years’ pensionable service on the grounds of the efficiency of the force.


Chris Eyre became Chief Constable. In this same year Nottinghamshire Police Authority was disbanded and replaced by Nottinghamshire's first Police and Crime Commissioner Paddy Tipping.


Sue Fish became Chief Constable.


Craig Guildford became Chief Constable.

This timeline has been compiled from a number of sources by the Corporate Communication Department. If you would like to add or amend an entry within the timeline please email website@nottinghamshire.pnn.police.uk