Police entitlement to days off during the First World War

Despite the campaign by The Police Review (the organ of the British constabulary) leading up to the Police (Weekly Rest Day) Act of Parliament passed in 1910, by the start of the First World War in August 1914, some police authorities had not granted their policemen a day off each week or, in some cases, their leave entitlement of two weeks off. Before the war the reasons given were that the service could not afford the additional expense, for which they would have to gain permission of the ratepayers. During the war the reasons given were the emergency situation in the country. However, in 1917 the frustration of the police boiled over and once more The Police Review led the campaign for policemen's rights to time off or payment in lieu. The journal developed a Roll of Honour naming those Borough Councils which had given either full or partial pay for days off or compensation for leave. It did the same for the County Police authorities, naming and shaming those who they said had made no effort to meet their obligations or who had promised to do so but had dragged their feet in implementing a scheme.

Book publication "Policing the Home Front in Britain, 1914-1918"

The book details on the history of police work in the First World War can be found at Publication by Taylor and Francis is expected mid-February 2019 in hardback and as an e-book. The Chapters are:
1. Introduction 
2. The Police before the Great War 
3. Controversies over the War Separation Allowance 
4. Policing Alcohol 
5. The Rise of Women 
6. Living Costs 
7. Pensions and Philanthropy 
8. Conscription and the Police 
9. Policing Sexual Health 
10. The Police as Ploughmen and Farm Workers 
11. The Impact of Conscription 
12. Youth Crime 
13. The Police and Food Control 
14. The Corrupting Effects of the Cinema 
15. Conclusions
This is an immensely exciting history project which has taken me to many archives around Britain and many British libraries. 
These blogs give you snippets of some of the excitment at the finds I have made, as well as the sadness of some of the book's contents.

Police as ploughmen in the First World War

It was not until late 1916 that Britain started to worry about its supply of food. For decades before 1916 land had been given over to pasture for grazing livestock, while around 80% of Britain's grain was imported, mainly from America and Canada. With increasing numbers of ships being sunk by German U-boats in the last 3 months of 1916, the fear for the nation was that it would starve. This fear of the inability to obtain imports of wheat was combined with the large numbers of fit young agricultural workers enlisting in the army, to the demoralisation of farmers. In this portrayal of the national crisis of food supplies, the State stepped in to take control. The Plough Policy from 1917 allowed the State to inspect farms and to tell farmers what they should grow, as well as supplying essential manpower, equipment and fertisers.
Many sources of manpower were provided to farmers, including soldiers, prisoners of war, women and school children. However, what has previously not been shown is that policemen were also used in large numbers in many locations throughout Britain acting as temporary ploughmen and farm workers for the planting seasons and harvests of 1916 to 1918. 
Many areas of pasture needed to be ploughed up to plant crops, requiring men with ploughing skills, as previously unploughed soil was heavy and with the use of horses needed a strong man to control the horses to plough a sufficiently deep furrow to turn the soil. Policemen, often recruited into the police force for their physique, particularly if they had previously worked as ploughment before entering the police service, would have been ideal.
During 1917 and 1918 Britain exceeded its previous output of crops, including wheat and potatoes, so that the nation did not starve, thanks to the many people who volunteered to work in farming, not least of which were the policemen.

Pressure on the police to arrest immoral women and girls

As early as February 1917 the Dominions (Australia, New Zealand and Canada) made representation to the British Government for the police to clear up the streets of London and other major cities. When America entered the First World War in early 1917, they made similar representations. They said their soldiers were not left alone when they embarked at railway stations in London on leave, or walked in the city's streets, particularly in The Strand, Horsferry Road and Waterloo Road. They were constantly accosted by women, particularly at night. The Dominions were worried not only about the women robbing their soldiers, but also of the spread of venereal disease, which was said to have increased massively since the start of the war. They accused the police of inaction to convict the women and girls who they wanted locked up until the war was over. The poster below illustrates advice given to American soldiers to try to promote abstinence.
What was at stake was not only the incapacity of the soldiers, who would be hospitalised on diagnosis and so unable to fight in the war, but also the worry of venereal disease spreading to the Dominion countries once the war was over, to innocent victims at home. They also worried that this would be a scourge for future generations.
Although the British government passed laws under the Defence of the Realm Act, for example Regulation 13A and 40D, as well as setting up treatment centres in Britain, very little difference was made to the level of venereal disease on the Home Front or in the military services, due to the lack of effective treatment at this time. 
During further discussions with the Dominions in 1918, it emerged that prostitutes were no longer the major carriers of venereal disease, it was now much more widespread, with 70% of the incidence in the female population occurring in non-prostitute women and girls.
Following the end of the war in November 1918, the Defence of the Realm Regulations 13 and 40D were repealed as it was recognised they were having minimal effect and were heavily criticised. Everyone in the population at home was encouraged to seek treatment, if they had contracted the disease. The police were one of the organisations instructed in how to encourage returning troops to seek treatment.

Folkestone Police and immorality in the First World War

Shorncliffe is less than two miles from Folkestone and housed 40,000 Canadian soldiers who landed in Plymouth in February 1915 on their way to barracks at Shorncliffe, with the officers based in private houses throughout Folkestone. This transformed the previously genteel holiday resort overnight into a home for soldiers, who were welcomed into the town by the local people and developed strong ties with them, to the extent that there is still an annual parade through the town to remember them, the image below shows their enduring memories by a plaque in the town:

Canadian troops were based in Shorncliffe and Folkestone for the duration of the war, returning for periods of leave from France. Although very much welcomed by the local community, they were thought by some residents to have money to spend and inevitably crime developed. A further problem was the level of venereal disease in the troops [1]. The police said the town developed a particular problem of brothel keeping and solicitation in 1915, when they closed four brothels [2; 3], seen by the Chief Constable in evidence to the Watch Committee as insufficient. In February 1916, the month in which Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) Regulation 13A was passed, 37 convicted prostitutes and those convicted of brothel keeping were evicted from Folkestone [4]. Considerable discussion at the Watch Committee in March 1916 involved members being told, three months into the employment of two women police, that now Magistrates had increased powers to expel certain women from the town, the Committee no longer saw the need for women police, although they were said to have carried out their work to the satisfaction of the Committee and the Chief Constable, the decision to employ them should be revoked. Those convicted under 13A had entered the town since the start of the war and as they had now been evicted there was no further need for the women police. However, the Archbishop of Canterbury intervened writing that he “had been following the doings of the women police all over the country with great interest.” He promoted them as carrying out work which it was almost impossible for a man to do. Following a vote, the motion to revoke the appointment of the women police was lost by 12 votes to 6 and they were retained [5].


[1] Beaupré, D. (2007/2008) En Route to Flanders Fields:  The Canadians at Shorncliffe During The Great War. London Journal of Canadian Studies. 23, 45-65.
[2] Wynn, S. (2017) Folkestone in the Great War. Barnsley: Pen and Sword Military.
[3] Correspondence concerning the desire for special regulations (13B) for treating venereal disease in Folkestone (1916). 3AMS/B/05/01. London School of Economics, The Women’s Library.
[4] Levine, P. (2003) Prostitution, Race, and Politics: Policing venereal disease in the British Empire. New York and London: Routledge.
[5] Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate and Cheriton Herald, March 4th, 1916 p. 2

Police control of women and girls in the First World War

The start of the war in August 1914 saw young women and girls overtly chasing men in khaki and swarming around military camps where men were in training before being sent to the Front, this behaviour became known as "khaki fever". Initially the police did not feel it was their job to try to stop it, but when huge public protest erupted, they took action to curtail it. Married women could lose their government separation allowance if accused of such behaviour, which would also be made known to their husband serving in the army or navy. Patroling around the military camps by women police patrols was also said to be effective in some areas, such as Carlisle.

1915 saw the public scandal of war babies, said to be in their thousands around Britain, born to unmarried women as well as the illigitimate children of married women. However, investigations by religious and women's organisations showed their numbers to be vastly exaggerated - they numbered around 20 rather than thousands.

But the more hidden consequences of immoral liaisons were also suspected. The police were taught how to recognise abortion and concealed births and how to secure a prosecution. Under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, Section 58, a woman could receive a sentence of penal servitude for life, if found guilty. It was also an offence to supply a substance to a woman for such purposes. 


Temporary Police in the First World War

As well as retaining time-expired policemen (who had served their full number of years to retire on a full pension, but were prevented by Act of Parliament from retiring until after the war), and encouraging businessmen to become Special Constables for part-time hours, many Police Forces recruited Temporary Policemen to take the places of those who had left to join the army or navy. Unlike the Special Constables, Temporary Policemen were sworn in, so could arrest suspects. But they were employed only for the period of the war, with the understanding that they would resign at the end of the war. In most forces they were welcomed, however in some they were fiercely criticised by their employers and the public, being accused of only joining the police to escape being called up to join the army.

Police entitlement to days off during the First World War

Despite the campaign by The Police Review (the organ of the British constabulary) leading up to the Police (Weekly Rest Day) Act of Parliam...