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Gordon Caldecott

Police Strike of 1919

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Gordon Caldecott

Can anyone tell me the circumstances that led to the Police Strike of 1919?

What was the out come of this action?

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Ed Matthews

Hello Gordon

I don't have my references to hand at the moment, but I understand that it was a reaction to the 1919 Police Act and the proposed formation of the Police Federation. These, in turn, were prompted by a strike in 1918 over pay and union membership.

There is a good book on this which, from memory, is called "The Night the Police went on Strike". I'm not sure of the author!

Hope this helps.

Rgds

Ed

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Gordon Caldecott

Cheers Ed,

I`ll see if I can dig the book out.

Surely the forming of the Police Federation was a good thing??

Gordon.

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tintin1689

There were two strikes the first was over pay, which was in a dreadful state due to war time inflation, some police officer's children were under nourished and senior officers were worried that the poverty would lead to very wide scale taking of bribes.

In August 1918 elements of the Met. Police struck for better wages. This lead to ich improved police pay in return for a no strike clause.

NUPPO, the fledgling police trade union (National Union of Police & Prison Officers) believed it had the Government on the run and struck for union recognition in 1919.

Strike figures were:-

Met. 1,056, City 57, Liverpool 954, Birkenhead 114, Bootle 63, Wallasey 1 and Birmingham 119

The strike collapsed in 24 hours. All the strikers were dismissed and never re-engaged.

There was serious rioting in Liverpool and the Army found it hard to cope with the warren of streets. Many shops were robbed.

The Desborough Report came out afterwards. This further improved police pay and conditions and set up the Police Federation and other representative machinery to prevent a re-occurence.

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Ed Matthews

I remember reading recently about a Pc of the Gloucestershire Constabulary who was due to retire on 31 March 1919. However, he actually worked a split shift which meant that he came on duty on 31 March and finished early morning the next day on 1 April. He duly handed in his uniform and retired that day, drawing a pension of something in the region of £85 pa. However, one of the retrospective recommendations of the Desborough Report (published later that year) was that all Police Officers who had been serving on 1 April 1919 should receive an increase in Pay and Pensions. Apparently, this Pc had real problems trying to convince the local Watch committee that he was indeed a "serving" Constable on 1 April and was forced to take it to the High Court! They duly awarded him an "enhanced" pension of something like £160 pa.

The National Union of Police and Prison Officers was incredibly popular in 1918 and its membership swelled considerably in that year. Indeed, most Provincial Authorities were panicked by its perceived militancy and the pay improvements granted to Metropolitan and City of London Police were implemented relatively quickly. Even thought the NUPPO was not granted recognition following the 1918 Strike, such was its popularity that local Watch Committees dare not stamp out the formation of local branches amongst the provincial forces in late 1918/early 1919. The Police Federation, however, was a "non-union" organisation (although it was tasked with representing the "rank and file") and indeed the 1919 Police Act declared it an offence for a police officer to become a member of any trades union.

Rgds

Ed

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Tom Morgan
There is a good book on this which, from memory, is called "The Night the Police went on Strike". I'm not sure of the author!

Hope this helps.

Rgds

Ed

Pardon me for butting in.......

Gerald W. Reynolds and Anthony Judge, and it was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 1968.

Tom

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Ed Matthews

Thanks Tom! I don't have my copy anymore :(

Ed

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George Armstrong Custer

Strange how sometimes everything changes and yet nothing changes - I've just been watching BBC News 24 where, nearly ninety years on from the strike of 1919, the police are debating the right to go on strike!

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