Rare glimpses of how Yorkshire used to be policed

Police recruits receiving instruction in making notes after a car accident, at the headquarters of the West Riding police in Wakefield (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)Police recruits receiving instruction in making notes after a car accident, at the headquarters of the West Riding police in Wakefield (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Police recruits receiving instruction in making notes after a car accident, at the headquarters of the West Riding police in Wakefield (Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Today they are tasked with tackling cyber-hacking and the other new crimes of the 21st century, but as these rarely-seen pictures of life behind the thin blue line show, Yorkshire’s police officers have long been at the cutting edge of technology.

Until the early 1970s, the county’s largest cities maintained their own forces, with separate constabularies for the Ridings – and the evidence here shows them to have taken different approaches to learning.

The headquarters of the West Riding force in Wakefield was regarded as the Scotland Yard of the North, and in the somewhat stilted shot at the top of the page, recruits are schooled in the art of note-taking after a car accident.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Some 14 other forces used Wakefield as a training base, for detectives as well as uniformed officers, with fake murders laid on as part of the training.

A policeman on point duty in Yorkshire, standing on a pile of straw to keep his feet warm.   (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)A policeman on point duty in Yorkshire, standing on a pile of straw to keep his feet warm.   (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
A policeman on point duty in Yorkshire, standing on a pile of straw to keep his feet warm. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

Another of our pictures, from 1936, shows a class of constables sitting at desks designed for schoolchildren, being taught the rudiments of road safety.

By the 1960s, training techniques had moved on, and we can see PC Peter Farrell from the traffic department at Leeds Police barely managing to keep a straight face as Chief Insp Douglas Wright asks him to blow into one of the new breathalyser tubes, shortly before the first members of the public were made to do likewise.

The police’s own cars in Leeds at the time seem from the 1966 picture to be only slightly modified versions of those available to anyone else. Only the letters on the door and the Police sign strapped to the roof as if it were a minicab, distinguish it from the regular model.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The old forces had their roots in Victorian times, with the City of Bradford Police having been established in 1848, half a century before Bradford was officially a city. Along with its Leeds counterpart, it was among the last to remain independent.

23rd September 1966

The new look Leeds City Police car... It has an illuminated sign on top and large letters on each side.23rd September 1966

The new look Leeds City Police car... It has an illuminated sign on top and large letters on each side.
23rd September 1966 The new look Leeds City Police car... It has an illuminated sign on top and large letters on each side.

Editor’s note: first and foremost - and rarely have I written down these words with more sincerity - I hope this finds you well.

Almost certainly you are here because you value the quality and the integrity of the journalism produced by The Yorkshire Post’s journalists - almost all of which live alongside you in Yorkshire, spending the wages they earn with Yorkshire businesses - who last year took this title to the industry watchdog’s Most Trusted Newspaper in Britain accolade.

And that is why I must make an urgent request of you: as advertising revenue declines, your support becomes evermore crucial to the maintenance of the journalistic standards expected of The Yorkshire Post. If you can, safely, please buy a paper or take up a subscription. We want to continue to make you proud of Yorkshire’s National Newspaper but we are going to need your help.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Postal subscription copies can be ordered by calling 0330 4030066 or by emailing [email protected]. Vouchers, to be exchanged at retail sales outlets - our newsagents need you, too - can be subscribed to by contacting subscriptions on 0330 1235950 or by visiting www.localsubsplus.co.uk where you should select The Yorkshire Post from the list of titles available.

Leeds police test the breathalyser device during a course for Leeds police in the use of the device.Leeds police test the breathalyser device during a course for Leeds police in the use of the device.
Leeds police test the breathalyser device during a course for Leeds police in the use of the device. | Johnston Press

If you want to help right now, download our tablet app from the App / Play Stores. Every contribution you make helps to provide this county with the best regional journalism in the country.

Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson, Editor