Head Constable Leonard DUNNING

Head Constable Leonard DUNNING

Head Constable Leonard DUNNING, courtesy Liverpool City Police

Liverpool Mercury, Dec 18th, 1894

The new Assistant Head-constable of Liverpool.

The Watch Committee of the Corporation of Liverpool met yesterday in the Municipal-buildings Dale St, Mr E. BROWNBILL in the chair, when the chief business was the selection of a successor to Mr Harry ALLBUTT as assistant head-constable of the city. Mr ALLBUTT is now chief-constable of Bristol. There were 67 candidates and the list was narrowed down to 6, Captain BUCKLE of Dover, Captain DESPARD of Dewsbury, Captain FARRANT and Captain LAWSON of Manchester, and Mr DUNNING and Mr DAVIES of the Royal Irish Constabulary. The voting ended in the appointment of Mr DUNNING by 16 to 7. The salary attached to the office commences at £400 a year, increasing by £50 annually until it has reached £600.

Mr Leonard DUNNING of the Royal Irish Constabulary was yesterday appointed assistant head-constable of Liverpool. Mr DUNNING is a native of Devonshire and is 34 years of age. Educated in the first instance at Eton, he graduated at Exeter College, Oxford, in honours in 1881. In 1882 he joined the Royal Irish Constabulary having secured the 1st place in the examination for cadetships, and is at present in charge of the Ennis District of County Clare, which has a police force of upwards of 100, and is also 2nd in command of the whole force of the country, comprising of more than 500 men. The Inspector General of the Royal Irish Constabulary writes thus concerning Mr DUNNING :-

"He has obtained more favourable records for the detection of crime than any other district inspector, and is the very pick of the Royal Irish Constabulary officers." Mr Justice O'BRIEN also wrote in high recommendation of Mr DUNNING. It may be added that a brother of Mr DUNNING is Captain DUNNING, D.S.O, of the Royal Fusiliers who is now assistant to the Commissioner of Uganda.

Liverpool Mercury, June 28th, 1895

The Late Captain DUNNING

Mr Leonard DUNNING the assistant head-constable, sends particulars furnished to him by the Foreign Office, of the death of his brother, Captain W. G. DUNNING, D.S.O, of the Royal Fusiliers :-

"On the 2nd of March an attack was made on Kaburega's forces, which were encamped on the Somerset Nile, at or near Mrula. While crossing the river in leading the attack, in the first canoe, Captain DUNNING was severely wounded on the left side. Up to the 9th March he had been doing well but, on that day, when near Masindi, he suddenly got worse and died within a few minutes. His body was taken to the fort of Hoima for burial." Captain DUNNING was 34 years old and joined the Royal Fusiliers in January 1881, and became Captain in 1888. He was employed with the Egyptian army from December 1885 to December 1893, during which time he went through the Soudan campaigns of 1886-89, including the action of Sarras [mentioned in despatches, fourth class of the Medjidie] action of Arguin, action of Toski [mentioned in despatches, medal with clasp, bronze star, and D.S.O] In July last he was selected by the War Office for service under the Foreign Office as First Assistant to the Commissioner of Uganda.

In November 1896 universal satisfaction was expressed in the masterly and courteous manner in which Mr Leonard DUNNING fulfilled the duties of deputy head-constable, during Captain NOTT-BOWER'S severe attack of typhoid fever.

In February 1900 , Mr Leonard DUNNING was convalescing after a prolonged illness, Mr Leonard DUNNING the assistant head-constable, who has been seriously indisposed for some time past, is now progressing satisfactorily. His men in the force of all ranks, by whom he is highly esteemed, wish him a speedy return to health and strength. He caught a chill during the memorable departure of the "Majestic" with troops from the Mersey. Chief-superintendent J. SMITH, is acting as deputy-chief in the absence of Mr DUNNING. [end May 1900]

In June 1900 he returns to his position.

September 18th 1903

Religious disturbances in Liverpool

At the Liverpool Police Court, George WISE, Protestant lecturer, was summoned at the instance of the Head Constable, Mr Leonard DUNNING, to show cause why he should not be ordered to find sureties to keep the peace during the next 12 months. Mr DUNNING said the proceedings were not instituted to stop Mr WISE from preaching Christianity. The defendant had however, roused the demon of unrest and disorder, and his proceedings culminated in a series of disturbances at Old Swan on Sunday, 6th inst. On that occasion his language, uttered as it was in a Roman Catholic district, was bound to prove offensive to Roman Catholics, and he had now declared his intention of holding another meeting at Old Swan next Sunday, when further riots would doubtless ensue. The present summons had been issued in order that the Bench might perform an act of preventative justice. Evidence of the disorderly proceedings at Old Swan and the language used by Mr WISE on that occasion having been given by police officers. Mr DAWBARN, who defended, stated that the defendant was ready to co-operate with the police in any way they might suggest for the preservation of the peace of the city.

A private interview took place between Mr DAWBARN and the Head Constable and the following agreement was arrived at :- "That Mr WISE undertakes to hold no meeting at Old Swan or any place at which the police think a breach of the peace may be occasioned thereby, and that the Head Constable will not, as long as Mr WISE honourably keeps this undertaking, renew this application."

August 1905

A libel action was taken out against Mr DUNNING, in the Liverpool Court of passage, in which Mrs Margaret MANN a widow, sought to recover damages from him and others, for alleged libel, [contained in letters, for malicious prosecution, and for trespass and assault.

Counsel for Mrs MANN, explained that she was well educated and was the daughter of Captain FORBES, who was the commodore of an old shipping company. She was now a widow as resided at 88 Whitefield Rd, Liverpool. When she was about 16 she married a man named VEALD, who was a justice of the peace for the county of Lancaster. Before she was 23 she was left a widow with three children, and she afterwards married Mr MANN. During the last 30 years she has brought up respectably a family of 8 children, by whom she had latterly been maintained, for she was no longer wealthy

It was alleged that on the morning of November 21st last two constables called at her house in Whitefield Rd [where she had lived for 4 years and kept two lodgers] and asked to see the occupier of the house. When she came forward and stood with her hand on the jamb of the door, the officers pushed past her and she staggered against a wringing machine with such force that the board of the machine was broken. The officers went into the house and subsequently told Mrs MANN that they were going to summon her for keeping a disorderly house. They then left and Mrs MANN was so shocked that she collapsed and had to be attended by a doctor.

The police issued a summons and in the meantime the Chief Constable wrote to Mrs MANN'S landlord a letter marked, "Confidential" to the effect that he was informed that the house was being used for immoral purposes, and drawing the landlord's attention to the penalties attaching to him personally for letting the house for such a purpose. The landlord sent bailiffs to the house, but, Mrs MANN refused to quit. Correspondence passed, and on December 7th, the summons was heard and dismissed.

The plaintiff bore out the counsel's statement as to the circumstances of the case, and emphatically denied that the house had ever been used for immoral purposes, neighbours were called who spoke as to the respectable character of the plaintiff. For the defence it was submitted that the alleged libel was published on a privileged occasion and that there was no evidence of any malice on the part of the Chief Constable. It was also contended that there was reasonable and probable cause for the action which the Head Constable had taken.

The Judge decided that the notices sent to the landlord were sent on a privileged occasion and without malice, and suggested a settlement in the matter of the alleged trespass and assault by one of the constables. A settlement, by the Corporation through their legal adviser to Mrs MANN was 50 guineas and costs on the understanding that the record was withdrawn without a verdict against anyone.


In March 1908, Mr Leonard DUNNING, Head Constable of Liverpool issued his annual report to the Watch Committee on the police establishment and the state of crime in the city in 1907. The force numbers 1,995, made up of the Head Constable, two assistant Head Constables, 11 superintendents, 69 inspectors, 243 sergeants, and 1,669 constables. Indictable crimes totalled 10,818, as compared with 9,830 in 1906. Non-indictable offences aggregated 34,608 as against 33088. Arrests for drunkenness reached 8,989, whereas the figures in 1906 were 8,078. The head constable dwells upon the increase of crimes of dishonesty and expresses the opinion that education is merely altering the forms of crimes against property, and is not reducing its volume. In spite of the prosecutions for drunkenness, Mr DUNNING expresses the opinion that the vice of intemperance has within the 25 years of his experience decreased to a marked degree in almost every rank of life. He attributes the increase in the number of prosecutions for drunkenness to the Act of 1902, which stimulated the activity of the individual policeman, who in turn was stimulated to an even greater degree by the public opinion which each year demands a higher standard of public decorum, and is less tolerant of drunken men and women in the public streets. Reference is also made in the report to the passion of betting among the working classes, men, women and children, especially at football matches, the coupon system giving such enormous odds to the layer. The question whether drunkenness or gambling is doing the greatest harm is, the head constable says, academic rather than practical, because the discussion for the remedies for one evil does not help towards finding remedies for the other. One thing is clear, drinking probably is decreasing, and gambling without doubt is increasing.

June 1909

Slum moneylenders and the working of the Moneylender's Act

In the last two annual reports of Head Constable Leonard DUNNING, of Liverpool, it appears that in Liverpool the "slum moneylender" who is usually a woman, is well known and quite an influential character, the steps which have been taken to curb the activities of this class of people are detailed. Mr DUNNING recalls that in 1907, for the first time since the passing of the Act, two moneylenders were convicted who had failed to register themselves in accordance to section 2. They were "slum moneylenders" of the sort who charge 2d in the 1s or 2s-6d in the pound, for a weeks loan, and are never heard of in the County Court

A description is reproduced from a police report of a moneylender of this type, " a notorious virago, a wrecker of homes, and a decoy to other weak, silly women to become drunkards" She is a big stout woman of 50, who can fight like a man, is continually in rows owing to her money transactions, and bears the scars of many a street battle on her face. She combines the cunning of a fox with the ferocity of a tiger and generally manages to keep out of the clutches of the law, and when she is collared can always pay for legal advice." This woman has been a moneylender for years, and would be a rich woman if she were not a dissolute one, with family as bad as herself. Her "clients" are generally the wives of working men. When pay day arrives she does not sue her debtors, but, in the words of a victim, "thumps it out of them" for her own fighting qualities are reinforced on occasion by a "gang of bullies, men and women, ready to help in assaulting a recalcitrant debtor or smashing up her house."

"Warned by recent prosecutions" Mr DUNNING says, " a slum moneylender of this sort is now registered, and is safe as far as the Moneylenders Act, 1900 is concerned." He considers it unfortunate that the registration is merely of a formal character. "To grant registration without any inquiry into character to persons of infamous character was," he submits, "never contemplated by the framers of the Act." and he urges not only that a license, granted after proper inquiry, should be substituted for registration, but that it should be possible to impose a term of imprisonment for a first offence. Last year the Liverpool police instituted proceedings against 38 moneylenders, 30 of whom were women, and secured convictions in 33 cases. Mr DUNNING in his report claims that the facts disclosed in these prosecutions have proved the necessity of substituting a system of licensing such as he advocates for the present system of registration upon the mere payment of a fee. He quotes an extract from this years work of the Liverpool Court of Passage in which an increase in the number of actions by moneylenders is accounted for by the police activity against the "slum moneylenders" These latter apparently "obtain their capital by borrowing from moneylenders in a larger way of business, and as a result of the police proceedings many of them have made default in replaying their loans."


Aug 18th 1909

Law report

High Court of Justice, Chancery Division

Before Mr Justice HAMILTON, sitting as Vacation Judge


Application for a Mandamus and Habeas Corpus

This was an application for a rule nisi for a mandamus directed to the stipendiary magistrate of Liverpool, calling on him to show cause why he should not state a case, and also for a writ of habeas corpus.

Mr F. E. SMITH, K.C, and Mr Lindon RILEY appeared for the applicant. Mr LAYTON held a watching brief on behalf of the Liverpool Corporation.

Mr F. E. SMITH said that the applicant Mr George WISE, was a prominent religious lecturer and teacher in Liverpool. He had been bound over in his own recognizances of £100 to keep the peace for 12 months, or alternatively to go to prison for 4 months. This was in connection with a proposed Protestant procession. In consequence of his refusal to enter into such recognizances, he was now in prison. The applicant in his affidavit said that he was the pastor of the Protestant Reformers, Memorial Church, Liverpool and contended that he was illegally arrested by warrant upon the information by Leonard DUNNING, Head Constable of Liverpool, instead of being proceeded against by summons and complaint, that he had not had time given him to prepare a sufficient defence, that the magistrate had illegally delayed allowing him to be released on bail, contrary to the Statute of Westminster, 1, Stat, 27 Ed, 1. c. 3, the Habeas Corpus Act, the Bill of Rights and the Summary Jurisdiction Acts, and he also alleged other grounds of complaints.

Five hours later he was released on bail by a special court held by the stipendiary magistrate, upon the undertaking, without prejudice to his rights, not to hold a Bible class procession of his Bible class on the following Sunday, June 27th. He had originally intimated to the police his intention to hold this procession and had sent a plan of the proposed route. The head constable had written requesting him not to hold this procession, this request the applicant had refused to comply with. The head constable feared that the natural result of the procession would be that persons of either of the Protestant or Roman Catholic faith might engage in breaches of the peace, riot, and disorder. At the adjourned hearing on July 1st the head constable's solicitor expressed his willingness to withdraw the proceedings as the proposed object had been attained, namely, the prevention of the said procession on June 27th, but the learned magistrate had refused to allow the proceedings to be withdrawn unless the applicant would enter into the said recognizances, and he was remanded to July 5th and July 13th.

The applicant contended that the proceedings subsequent to June 27th were illegal, inasmuch as their purpose was exhausted after that date. No minute of the magistrate's order had been served on him before he was committed to prison for disobedience to it. The magistrate also refused an application to remove the applicant from the second to the first division, and had also admitted in evidence a copy of an anonymous letter published in a local paper which stated that the applicant had been responsible for an illegal riot on June 20th, and that after that riot he had disappeared and gone to Bootle, the truth of which statements the applicant denied. The head constable in his affidavit stated that the applicant had in the past used language and behaved in a manner calculated to provoke breaches of the peace by persons of the Roman Catholic faith and that in 1901 he had been ordered to find sureties to keep the peace, and again in 1903, that a bitter feeling of hostility existed in Liverpool between Protestants and Roman Catholics, and that on June 20th a serious riot had taken place.

Many of the points of law [continued counsel] were highly controversial, and he contended that a case ought to be stated. He also applied for a writ of habeas corpus in order to obtain the release of Mr WISE from prison.

Mr Justice HAMILTON, He can release himself by entering into these recognizances. He is the pastor of a church, and why should I help him?

Mr SMITH, If he does so he surrenders his right to hold these processions, which he contends he has a right to hold. He will now undertake not to do any of these acts until the hearing of the rule.

Mr Justice HAMILTON, Then why not enter into the recognizances ? Here an order has been made by a competent Court, which I am bound to assume is correct, and I am asked to do for him what he can do for himself. The only objection he offers is that he might seem to acknowledge that he has been doing wrong.

Mr LAYTON, said that the head constable directed him to say that he did not wish to do anything to hinder the appeal, and was anxious that Mr WISE should be released, and that he was willing to accept his undertaking as expressed by Mr SMITH. Mr Justice HAMILTON, said that on that ground, and on that ground only, he would grant the order for the writ of habeas corpus, and he also granted the order for the mandamus.

Later in the day Mr SMITH said he would ask leave to withdraw his application for a writ of habeas corpus in order that a further application for bail might be made, which in the circumstances he was confident the magistrate would grant. The application was granted.


Sectarian distrurbances in Liverpool

The Home office inquiry into the Sectarian distrurbances in Liverpool and the charges against the police, Feb 16th 1910 before Commissioner Mr A. J. ASHTON, K.C. John HOLDEN, formerly Provincial Grand Master of the Orange Province of Liverpool gave evidence as to the message he conveyed to Mr George WISE on the night before the St Joseph's Church procession. He stated that Mr WISE advised the Orangemen not to go to Juvenal St, where the disturbance occurred on the Sunday. Mr Rigby SWIFT opened the case for the police, he said there had not been brought before the Court one piece of evidence upon which any tribunal in the world would find that one of the charges against the police had been proved. He suggested that steps might be taken by the Legislature to prevent the right of free speech and the right of free procession from becoming merely uncontrolled license and mere opportunity for rioting and revelry. Mr Leonard DUNNING, Head Constable was in the witness-box when the court adjourned.

The Home office inquiry into the Sectarian distrurbances in Liverpool was resumed on Feb 17th 1910 before Commissioner Mr A. J. ASHTON, K.C. The Head Constable Mr DUNNING said that the cost to the city for processions and distrurbances was enormous. Last year the additional cost for policing the city was between £8,000 and £10,000, the cost of overtime for the police was £10.877. Then there was £315 for the Manchester police, £139 for the hiring of horses, £129 refreshments, £224 incidentals, £272 for riot damage claims, totalling £11,959. In addition was the cost of the inquiry, which would be between £3,000 and £4,000.

In cross-examination, Mr DUNNING said he had been living a "hell upon earth" on account of what he had had to go through, Liverpool was a difficult city to govern, and if he had known what it was he would never have gone there. Religious conflicts were likely to break out at any time on the slightest provocation. The qualities of statesmanship were almost more important than the qualities of organisation and he was afraid that they could not get them at the price of a policeman. They could not get for 25s a week the manners of Lord Chesterfield with the wisdom of Solomon.

On behalf of the Protestants Mr REES withdrew fully the charges which had been levelled at Mr DUNNING of preferential treatment of the Roman Catholics.

Feb 19th, 1910, the Inquiry was continued before Commissioner Mr A. J. ASHTON, K.C. In cross examination by Mr SEGAR, on behalf of Roman Catholics the Head Constable, Mr DUUNING, said that he considered that the Eucharistic Congress in London had had much to do with the ill-feeling in Liverpool between the Roman Catholics and Protestants. He thought that if the Protestant campaign at St Domingo Rd, did not exist the authorities would find the sectarian differences in the city much easier to manage than now.

At the close of the Head Constable's evidence the allegations against his honour were fully withdrawn and before he left the box the learned Commissioner shook his hand.

Further evidence was given on behalf of the police by Mr A. P. LANE, formerly Deputy Head Constable now Deputy Chief Constable of Lancashire and other police officers.

Mr REES thought that the Protestants still considered that there was an error of judgement in connection with the breach of assurance regarding the Holly Cross Church procession, and that it had been an aggravating cause in the disturbance.

The Commissioner said that so far as the Juvenal St case went he was not much impressed by it, but in regard to the Netherfield Rd charge against the police he would like that to be cleared up.


January 1911, awarded the King's Police Medal, for prolonged service distinguished by exceptional merit and ability and by success in dealing with serious outbreaks of public disorder over a long period. Also for having rendered valuable assistance to the Government by his advice on general matters of police administration.

In July 1911 Mr Leonard DUNNING, Head Constable of Liverpool issued his annual report on crime in the city, an elaborate document of 123 pages. He insisted in his views that he had expressed constantly during the past eight years that crime was increasing, that the poor suffered more than the rich and that the increase in crime was due to the "sentimental" attitude of the general public towards crime and the criminal. Apart from poverty the two great causes of crime are drink and betting. Intemperance had been much limited lately but little had been done to limit the opportunities of betting. The principle of individual liberty, he declared had been raised to a fetish, and the Post-office carries this doctrine to far, there was probably never a day when the Post-office does not hold in the shape of telegraphic money orders, evidence enough to convict half the ready-money betting shops. Yet that evidence was not forthcoming. He quotes, " the present day craving for amusement as an incitement to crime as involving temptation to dishonesty for its gratification. He repeats his yearly suggestion that there is a decline of personal honesty in many of the relations of life, and doubts if the education authorities equip the rising generation with this essential quality. He also attacks the modern treatment of the juvenile thief, the slum boy who keeps straight, turned out at fourteen as the finished product of the elementary school, is ill-classed, ill-fed, and probably a recruit for the army or unskilled. The reformatory boy on the other hand, is found a job after leaving supervised and cared for. Honesty will be his best policy in the future, but it was dishonesty that gave him his chance, and his "pals" will not fail to know this."

Liverpool's sectarian disturbances are referred to. On the question of immorality, he is very emphatic concerning the evil results of the decline of parental control and of the liberty given to girls to roam the streets, "Harem" life is more attractive to them than the life of a squaw kept as a household drudge and rewarded with black eyes."

Dec 1911

Mr Leonard DUNNING, Head-constable of Liverpool retires

Mr Leonard DUNNING, Head-constable of Liverpool is contemplating retirement on health grounds. It is known that of late years, owing to the sectarian riots, leading as they did to the months official inquiry into the alleged partiality of the police and the unexampled disturbances consequent on the strike, the work has proved very trying to Mr DUNNING'S health. The matter is to come before the Watch Committee.

At a meeting of the Liverpool City Council on Dec 6th 1911 on the recommendation of the Watch Committee that Head-constable DUNNING wished to retire from his position at once without carrying out the condition imposed upon him some time ago that he should not retire on a pension until he reached 55, based upon the grounds that his health had been affected by the duties of his position and that he is desirous of becoming a candidate for an inspectorship of constabulary under the Home Office. Mr Alderman MAXWELL chairman of the Watch Committee, said the agreement was that the Head Constable should serve three more years before becoming entitled to retire on a pension of £800, and in consideration of being allowed to retire at once he was willing to accept £700 pension. Mr MAXWELL spoke highly of the services of Mr DUNNING who had organised a police force second to none in the kingdom.

Mr HICKING on behalf of the Labour party alleged that there was an ulterior motive, and that if the Home Office position had nor been vacant the question of the Head Constable taking his pension would not have been raised If the Home Office position could be filled by a derelict, as they said the Head Constable was, it was a sinecure. Mr Alderman TAGGART, while agreeing with the recommendation took the opportunity of protesting against the Head Constable's strictures upon the Irish people in connection with the recent strike disturbances. Another Labour member, Mr STEPHENSON, remarked that if the Head Constable was not physically capable of conducting the city police force from his armchair at the headquarters he was not physically fit to carry out the duties of a Home Office appointment.

Mr RAWLINSON declared that if the recommendation of the Watch Committee was carried out the post of Head Constable of the city would become sinecure - in fact, "a proper bobby's job" - [laughter]

On a division the recommendation was carried by 63 votes to 40. The Head Constable is therefore entitled to retire on a pension of £700 per annum if he wished to do so.

Head Constableship of Liverpool

The Head Constableship special sub-committee of the Watch Committee of the Liverpool Corporation on Jan 6th 1912, recommend the appointment of Mr F. CALDWELL, at present 1st Assistant Head-constable of the Liverpool to the Head Constableship of Liverpool, vacated by Mr DUNNING, who has been appointed Inspector of Constabulary. Mr CALDWELL has served many years in the Liverpool force, in which he was trained and was promoted to his present rank on the retirement two years ago of Mr H. P. LANE, who became Deputy Chief Constable of Lancashire. The promotion of Mr Francis CALDWELL to that of Head Constable was confirmed on January 8th at a meeting of the Watch Committee. The salary is £1,000 per annum advancing to £1,200 and the post is subjected to a retiring age of 60 years. The Watch Committee also decided to advertise for an assistant head constable at £500 a year.

Feb 21st 1917, given the Honour of a Knighthood

Inspector of constabulary for England and Wales

Jan 30th 1920

Sir Leonard DUNNING, his Majesty's Inspector of Police, after inspecting the Northampton Force yesterday, said, "If the police wished to occupy a higher social status they must behave so as to deserve it. In the minds of many people the police were associated with the practise of "tips". If men would dissociate the word of policeman from the word "tips" their social status would rise.

Feb 8th 1925

Sir Leonard DUNNING, his Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary in his report on the police forces of England and Wales, that the nation's physique has deteriorated badly, "due to the after-effects of war time privations which are showing in those now reaching manhood" account for the large number of applicants for the forces who are rejected on medical examination and "perhaps 90 per cent, of these applicants for appointment," he says, " never get as far as the doctor because they are manifestly unsuitable."

June 1930, made Baronet, retired after 48 years service with the police.

Sir Leonard DUNNING, for many years Inspector of constabulary for England and Wales, died on Saturday 8th, Feb, 1941 at Lower Beeding, Horsham, Sussex, he was 80 yrs of age. He served 17 years in the Liverpool police, being Head Constable for 7 years, then went to the Home Office as Inspector of Constabulary in 1912. On his retirement in 1930 he was created a baronet. He is succeeded by his son, Mr William Leonard DUNNING, who was born in 1903.

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