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Ladies/Gents,

Can anyone shine any light on the role of a Metropolitan police reserve officer in Edwardian period? Where they like a modern day special constable? I know the chap I'm interested in joined up in 1890 (would he have joined as a reserve?), certainly by 1906 he was listed as a reserve, finally retiring in 1917. 

 

Edited by bigjarofwasps

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No I'm afraid you have got the wrong idea on the Reserve.  From 1831 Specials Constables could be empowered to assist with policing major civil disturbances - Chartist Demonstrations, Fenian Terror Campaigns etc - but these men were called up for one offs and there was no standing Met Special force until WWI. 

The Reserve is a totally different case.  When the Met was set up each Section Sergeant had nine Constables.  Eight were allocated to beats and the ninth man was the Reserve Officer.  This system evolved and consulting the Law Directories for 1880s onwards shows that in each Division there were a number of Inspectors and one was designated as the Reserve Inspector.  He commanded a group of men designated as the Reserve who, unlike their fellow uniform officers, did not patrol beats.  These men were effectively held as a mobile reserve to deal with any emergencies etc that arose and they were spread around the sub-divisions.  Reserve PSs / PCs had normal collar numbers with an addition R to show they were part of the Reserve. 

I have one Pay List for April 1891 for Y Division (this was one of the larger Divisions) - the Pay List actually shows the members of their Reserve which consisted of the following:

Kentish Town Sub Division - I Inspector, I Sergeant, 12 Constables

Somers Town Sub Division - 1 Sergeant, 9 Constables

Upper Holloway Sub Division - 1 Sergeant, 9 Constables

Caledonian Road Sub Division - 1 Sergeant, 9 Constables

Holloway Sub Division - 1 Sergeant, 7 Constables

Hornsey Sub Division - 1 Sergeant, 4 Constables

Wood Green Sub Division - 4 Constables

Enfield Sub Division - 5 Constables

Total: 1 Inspector, 6 Sergeants, 59 Constables

The total for Y Div in 1887 was 46 Sergeants and 598 Constables (excluding 5 CID PS/PCs) so this  shows nearly 10% of the Division were in the reserve

I should add that officers when they first joined didn't go into the Reserve but were selected later in their careers, usually because they were well thought off

Edited by Odin Mk 3

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Thanks Odin, that's very interesting. I wonder why they bothered having them and not just have them as a normal officer? 

 

Just out of further curiosity how did they progress during WW2? If an officer had retired with the rank of Insp, would they have served as an Insp (reserve) during WW2? Would they have gone back to their old division? Is there any records for reserve officer postings during the war?

 

 

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The Metropolitan Police reserve were normal full time officers they were just employed on other duties not beat duty per se.

On the other hand War Reserve Constables were recruited directly for police duties during wartime. As the title suggests they were volunteers who had the full powers of Constable sworn in under the Special Constable Act. The Met for example during WW2 used around 5000 of its Special Constables Full time, recruited some 18000 WRCs and re engaged nearly 3000 police pensioners. 

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Thanks Tom (re reserves).

 

With regards to war reserves, would they revert back to the rank of constable or would an inspector remain as such? Am I right in thinking that they'd just be posted to which ever division needed them, or would they go back to their old division? 

 

 

 

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Officers who re-joined as War Reserve officers appear to have kept their old rank.  Where they served was I suspect a function of where they were living post retirement.  Their postings were shown in the Police Orders.  Here is an example for Insp Walter Cursons who retired from L Div but had previously served in W Div (and was living in Mitcham in 1939).  Note this officer re-joined (like many others) before the war had even started.  He resigned just before three year services in WWII, just failing to qualify for a Defence Medal for his WWII service.  RP I think means Reserve Police (not Police Reserve!)

21/06/1929

92997

W CURSONS

Insp

C

To W

01/01/1932

92997

W CURSONS

Insp

W

To L

28/08/1933

92997

W CURSONS

Insp

L

PENSIONED

31/08/1939

92997

W CURSONS

Insp

W

REJOINED RP

31/07/1942

92997

W CURSONS

Insp

W

RESIGNED

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There used to be an on-line database of extracts from the Police Orders and I sorted the above info from that source over ten years ago; unfortunately there is no longer direct access to the whole database.  The same data can be gleaned directly from the actual Police Orders and copies are held by several bodies including Kew BUT that would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.  No easy answer I'm afraid.

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Interesting he kept the same warrant number. I wonder if pensioners who rejoined were called something other than War Reserve as you say RP is nor WR.

I wonder what happened to that database does ESB historical records have access to it ?

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