Chief Constable of Liverpool 1932-1940, Mr A. K. WILSON

Chief Constable A. K. WILSON, Courtesey Liverpool City Police

Jan 29th 1932

Liverpool's new police chief

The man who led the charge against the mutineers at Dartmoor Prison

The Liverpool Watch Committee yesterday appointed Mr A. K. WILSON, Chief-constable of Plymouth as Chief Constable of Liverpool, the post having been vacated by Mr L. D. L. EVERETT last November due to ill-health. It was stated by the sub-committee that it was with the greatest regret that, owing to health considerations, it was unable to send forward the name of Mr WINSTANLEY, one of the Assistant Chief Constables of Liverpool. There were 34 applicants for the post, and carries a salary of £1,500, rising to £2,000, with a rent allowance of £150.

[On June 3rd 1931 The Liverpool City Council declined to authorise the payment of £213 for special medical treatment for the Assistant Chief Constable H. WINSTANLEY who was off duty for six months.]

Mr WILSON has been a prominent figure since last Sunday when he was one of those principally concerned in depressing the Dartmoor Prison revolt. It was the arrival of a force of police from Plymouth at Princetown under his command that saved the situation. Mr WILSON led a truncheon charge into the mutineers, he is to give evidence before the inquiry at the prison today. A native of Galston Ayrshire, he has a long standing connection with Merseyside for he was educated at Liverpool University. Mr WILSON joined the Cardiff Police Force 22 years ago, and was appointed Chief Constable of Carlisle in 1928, and a year later was appointed Chief-constable of Plymouth. He is a keen ambulance worker and last summer was admitted an officer of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in recognition of his work at Cardiff, Carlisle and Plymouth.


In September 1932 Chief-constable WILSON ordered that Liverpool police officers must not smoke when in uniform, even if they are off duty. This was a reversion to a former practise, for some years Liverpool police officers have been permitted to smoke when off duty, there had been unfavourable criticism by the public who had seen policemen smoking.

He also influenced the decision of the Watch Committee in banning the Police Trading Guild in Liverpool which had been in existence since 1902 and had a membership of 1,552, out of the total police force of about 2,250. He stated that he considered that the tradespeople as ratepayers were entitled to be protected in their trade and should not suffer from any unfair competition by guilds of that description. In 1931 the sales from stores at the police stations in charge of 20 agents amounted to over £15,341, including £12,771 for tobacco and £1,194 for chocolate

Jan 1934, awarded King's Police medal for distinguished service


Oct 31st 1938

On Saturday a teat of the air raid sirens was made in Liverpool, the Chief Constable Mr A. K. WILSON, pressed a button in the police headquarters in Dale St, thus switching on simultaneously 47 sirens which are linked up in various parts of Liverpool and Crosby. The alarm which was clearly heard in a large area lasted for two minutes. A rising and falling wail was heard and was followed by the long steady note of the all-clear siren.

Jan 9th 1939


Scouts and air raids, a Liverpool test.

The Chief Constable of Liverpool has placed the entire city police system at the disposal of the Scout authorities for a teat. Liverpool is the only city in the country to mobilise the Scouts for use in a national emergency. The aim is to recruit 2,000 Scouts for air-raid precaution work and 500 have so far enrolled. The Scouts will be used during a sudden attack when telephone communication is jammed and radio messages can be picked up by enemy aircraft. Ten police stations will each have 50 Scouts.


March 19th 1940

Chief Constable resigns Liverpool vacancy.

Owing to ill-health the Chief Constable of Liverpool Mr A. K. WILSON has resigned and it is probable that the present senior Assistant Chief Constable Mr H. WINSTANLEY will be recommended for the appointment and that Mr W. E. GLOVER also an assistant Chief Constable will be his assistant.

The Watch Committee accepted the resignation with regret as from April 1st.

Mr WILSON joined the Cardiff police as a constable in 1909 and quickly rose to the rank of inspector. In 1928 he was appointed Chief Constable of Carlisle and the following year became Chief Constable of Plymouth where he instituted a police training school.

Death notice, Jan 24th 1962, passed away peacefully Lt Col A. K. WILSON, C.B.E, formerly Chief Constable of Liverpool



Libel Actions

COOPER. V. A. K. WILSON and the Liverpool Watch Committee.

In late October and early November 1935 a libel action hearing was begun at the Liverpool Assizes an action brought by Ernest COOPER, an ex-sergeant in the Liverpool Police Force of Bridge St, Birkenhead against several members of the Watch Committee and Chief Constable A. K. WILSON and three other members of the Liverpool police force. COOPER claimed damages against the Chief Constable for libel in the daily police orders and in the leaving certificate given to him, and in a declaration that he resigned from the force, that the Chief Constable was not entitled in law to cancel his acceptance of COOPER'S resignation, and that there was no valid hearing by the Chief Constable of disciplinary charges against COOPER and no valid hearing by the Watch Committee of COOPER'S appeal against the Chief Constable's decision and that the Watch Committee were not entitled to retain the rateable deductions from his pay. Damages were also claimed against Superintendent James HUGHES for alleged assault and against three police officers for conspiracy.

COOPER entered the force in 1919 and was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1930. His relations with his wife were unhappy and in July 1933, COOPER realising that his prospects of success were unlikely to be bright or fair, applied to resign from the force, after explaining to his wife what provision he proposed to make for her. The resignation was accepted on August 1st by the Chief Constable who two days later cancelled it. On August 5th he was handed a misconduct form, three offences being alleged against him, discreditable conduct in failing to maintain his wife and children, making a false statement to Chief Inspector NICHOLLS, to whom he stated that that his domestic relations with his wife were all that could be desired and failing to report his whereabouts while on leave.

During the hearing the jury had come to the conclusion that the plaintiff had not made out his case on the issue of conspiracy Mr Justice HILBERY said that, that being the case, “we will not hear anything more about it.” On the direction of Mr Justice HILBERY the jury returned a verdict for the three defendants, Superintendent James H. ROGERS, Superintendent William HUGHES and Chief Inspector Edward NICHOLS, for whom judgement was entered with cost referable to that issue, ordering that costs should be the plaintiff's costs in the cause, if COOPER failed he would not have to pay the costs thrown away by that trial.

The Chief Constable said that following a report of a statement by COOPER'S wife he considered it his duty to have the matter cleared up. He denied that Superintendent HUGHES exclaimed, "Shut up" during the Chief Constable's inquiry into the disciplinary charges and said he would take a serious view if a superintendent spoke like that. He also declared it was unthinkable that COOPER would say "It is useless my going on any further your mind was made up before I entered the room." "COOPER was still a member of a disciplined body and it is unthinkable such a statement would be made like that." The Chief Constable also asserted that neither Superintendent ROGERS nor Superintendent HUGHES stayed with him while he considered his decision and referring to COOPER'S appeal to the Watch Committee, he added that so far as he could recollect he took no part in the discussion of the Watch Committee when they considered their decision which was a unanimous conclusion. No one interrupted COOPER'S proper conduct of his appeal. He had no spite against COOPER and never had any feeling against him. Referring to the disciplinary charges against COOPER the Chief Constable said that the charge of falsehood is the most serious charge that can be brought against any policeman.

Superintendent HUGHES denied that he had refused to return COOPER'S salute and said "That would almost amount to sacrilege in the Chief Constable's office" Superintendent HUGHES also denied that he said "Shut up" during the Chief Constable's inquiry. Superintendent HUGHES said that during the inquiry COOPER said his wife had followed him when he was going on duty. He described how COOPER and his wife were tugging at their children in the street outside the police building following the inquiry, and after they had entered the building he escorted Mrs COOPER and the children out through another door.

Mr COOPER'S claim was unsuccessful judgement was to be entered for the defendants with costs in accordance with the jury's findings.

In March 1937, Former Liverpool Police Sergeant COOPER by a majority of three judges constituting the Court of Appeal won his case against Chief Constable A. K. WILSON and the Watch Committee of Liverpool at the Liverpool Civil Assizes. Under the statutory regulations any punishment imposed by the Chief Constable was subject to confirmation by the Watch Committee.

In hearing and determining applications for confirmation the Watch Committee must act judicially and the committee could not dismiss a police officer who had already terminated his service by giving notice.

COOPER served for 13 years without reproach, said Lord Justice GREER, and on the margin of his notice of resignation which expired on August 24th 1933, the Chief Constable wrote, "Accepted his reasons for resigning are his own, and apparently there would not appear to be any conduct of the sergeant calling for disciplinary action." Statements were taken from Mrs COOPER and submitted to the Chief Constable who ordered the inquiry, as a result of which he purported to dismiss COOPER.

"In doing so in my opinion he misconceived his powers under the regulations" said the Lord Justice. It seemed to him when the Watch Committee met on August 29th COOPER was no longer a member of the force and they could not discharge him nor treat him as discharged at an earlier date.

Mr Justice GREER said the judgement of the court would be that the decision of the Watch Committee was invalid and that COOPER was entitled to the repayment of £116-13s-6d deductions from salary with interest at 4 percent from August 1833. COOPER would have such costs as awarded to a "poor person."

Mr Edward WOOLL [for Mr COOPER] asked for a declaration that he resigned from the force, which would enable him to get his leaving certificate amended. The Court held that the costs must be borne by the Watch Committee.


A. K. WILSON. V. Allied Newspapers Ltd of Manchester

In October 1937, following a settlement for a libel action at the Liverpool Assizes judgement was given for Chief Constable Archibald Kennedy WILSON, for £500 against Allied Newspapers Ltd of Manchester, who printed in the Sunday Chronicle of June 20th, on the front page an article headed "£169 fine for smoking a cigarette" and stated :-

"An appeal to Liverpool Watch Committee on Tuesday by an acting sergeant and two constables will reveal disciplinary action by the Chief Constable of Liverpool, Mr A. K. WILSON, against three men. The acting sergeant who has 16 years service, found the constables smoking in a back passage and reported them, but is alleged to have reported the scene of the incident as 30 yards from where it actually took place. The acting sergeant was dismissed from the force and one constable who smoked was fined 5s a week for 13 years, which will mean £169 for one cigarette. The other constable was fined 3s-6d a week for four years. Hundreds of members of the Liverpool Police Force are awaiting with interest the findings of the Watch Committee on Tuesday."

The article constituted a grave attack against the Chief Constable and a most serious imputation against his administration of justice and discipline amongst the force, the allegations in the article were utterly without foundation. Evidence brought before the Chief Constable clearly showed that the two constables had been idling and gossiping together at a place where one of them had no right to be, and which left a large area entrusted to them without police protection. The acting sergeant on his round of inspection met the two constables and failed to note in his book the place and time and neglected the duties of his round and inspection. The two constables after the acting sergeant's visit in further neglect of duty went down a back entry where they were found smoking together, later Constable 2 and the acting sergeant concocted a story which the acting sergeant pretended to substantiate by making a false statement to the chief inspector and by false entries in his note book and official visiting form.

Constable 1 pleaded guilty to disobedience of orders, neglect of duty and smoking on duty in uniform, the chief constable imposed a light punishment of reduction of one class for 6 months, involving a depravation of 52s in pay.

Constable 2, pleaded guilty to disobedience of orders, neglect of duty and smoking on duty in uniform and the serious offence of falsehood having made a false statement to the chief constable. The Chief Constable held strongly that policemen should be truthful but because Constable 2 had frankly admitted all the facts he was able to take a lenient course imposing a fine of 40s plus the loss of £4-10s good conduct increment.

The acting sergeant was charged with disobedience of orders and three offences of falsehood, no course remained open to the chief constable but to dismiss him from the force.

Neither of the constables appealed to the Watch Committee and the acting sergeant's appeal was dismissed after being heard by the Watch Committee

The defendants realising the seriousness of the allegations agreed to consent to a judgement in the action and to make a full apology to the plaintiff, and to give due publicity to the proceedings, to pay the plaintiff an agreed sum for his costs and to award him the sum of £500 by way of damages for the serious libel published against his character.


KILDUFF. V. A. K. WILSON and the Liverpool Watch Committee.

In February 1938 the Acting Sergeant Roderick KILDUFF of Broad Lane, Liverpool, sued the Watch Committee and Chief Constable Archibald Kennedy WILSON at the Liverpool Assizes for wrongful dismissal he claimed the Chief Constable was not entitled to dismiss him and that his dismissal was invalid, he sought damages on allegations of unlawful suspension and libel. The trial lasted over eight days, the jury decided that the Chief Constable discussed only procedure with the Watch Committee on June 8th and July 20th and not the facts of the plaintiff's case and no members of the Watch Committee showed bias against the plaintiff. The jury also found the words "dismissed from the force" were defamatory of the plaintiff in their natural and ordinary meaning, that the words were true in their natural and ordinary meaning, and did not bear any of the meanings attributed to them in the statement of claim, the Chief Constable wrote and published the words in the bona-fide performance of his duty and in the honest belief they were true and that he was not actuated by malice. The judge found that the Chief Constable was carrying out statutory instructions in awarding the punishment "dismissed from the force" he found they were published on a privileged occasion, he was also satisfied that both the Chief Constable and the Watch Committee were desirous of giving full effect to the Court of Appeal in the COOPER case and found that no bias was shown by any members of the Watch Committee.

The judge next dealt with the case of John Sidney COVENTRY of Royston St, Edge Hill, Liverpool whose dismissal from the Liverpool City Police, Fire Brigade followed alleged disobedience of orders on the night of the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall fire in July 1933. As in the case of KILDUFF, COVENTRY claimed declarations that he was not validly dismissed by the chief, that the Watch Committee's hearing of the appeal was invalid, and that he was still a member of the force. Mr Justice TUCKER thought that the decision of the Watch Committee was an act done by them in the performance of their statutory duty under a section of the Municipal Corporations Act, a duty owed to the public. Holding that none of the police statutory regulations applied to the plaintiff, the Judge added, "It follows in my view that the Watch Committee, when they dismissed the plaintiff were in a somewhat similar position to any ordinary employer and were not acting as a quasi-judicial tribunal under the statutory regulations or otherwise, their decision cannot be vitiated on the grounds of the presence of the Chief Constable at their deliberations or otherwise."


Chief Constable of Liverpool 1940-1948, Mr H. WINSTANLEY

Chief Constable H. WINSTANLEY, Courtesey Liverpool City Police

Mr Herbert WINSTANLEY has been assistant Chief Constable since 1925 and has made a special study of modern scientific methods of crime detection, he is a finger-print expert. During the last war he organised the Alien's Registration Intelligence Department and some of his innovations were adopted by the Home Office.

Sept 1st 1943

Liverpool City Council approved a proposal to advance the salary of the Chief Constable Mr H. WINSTANLEY, from £1,625 per annum as from May 1st last to £1,825 per annum, increasing to £1,950 in twelve months and thereafter by biennial increments of £125 to £2,200 a year. The proposal met with some opposition.

March 1st 1948

Chief Constable of Liverpool

Mr C. MARTIN for 15 months, 1st Assistant Chief Constable of Liverpool was chosen by the Watch Committee to succeed Mr H. WINSTANTLEY as Chief Constable of Liverpool from a short list of seven which included the Chief Constable of Leeds and Stockport.

The appointment is subject to Home Office approval and the post carries a salary of £1,500 rising to £2,400 plus allowances. Mr MARTIN who is 47 was formerly Chief Constable of Southport and of Leamington Spa.


Death Notice, Sept 6th 1976, Mr Herbert WINSTANLEY, C.B.E, Chief Constable of Liverpool 1940-1948, aged 91

Death Notice, Feb 20th 1969, Sir Charles MARTIN, C.B.E, Chief Constable of Liverpool from 1948 to 1958 when he became one of H. M'S Inspector of Constabulary died at his home on Burton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire aged 67. He spent 20 years in the Metropolitan Police and was subsequently Chief Constable of both Leamington Spa and Southport. At Liverpool his work was marked by progress in the C.I.D, increased recruiting for women police and pioneering work in the cadet scheme. He was also largely responsible for the introduction of the juvenile liaison scheme to combat crime in the young later copied both in this country and abroad.

© 2012 all rights reserved