First and Last Chief Officers

BY MARTIN HODDER

 

 

 
 

Charles Head was the first Chief Officer of Oxford City Police. He’d been an Inspector with the Metropolitan Police before moving to Oxford in 1869 with six Constables, also from the Met, to form Oxford’s new full-time Police Force. He was appointed Superintendent on arrival in Oxford, and would always be known as Superintendent, never Chief Constable. He remained Chief Officer for 28 years before retiring on March 12, 1897.

 

The last Chief Constable of Oxford City was Clement George Burrows, who had joined Somerset Police in 1927. He was Assistant Commandant at the Police College between 1953 and 1956, and moved to Oxford from that post. After amalgamation he served on with Thames Valley Police before retiring in 1972; he died later that year.

 

xford City Police was one of many smaller city, borough and county forces that failed to survive beyond the 1960s. Anyone who served in one of these forces, in whatever capacity, will know only too well (as I do) that they were tight-knit communities within which each individual Officer served with great dedication and a sense of enormous pride. Everyone who

was serving, or who had served, at the time of amalgamation with other forces felt a great sense of loss that their own little corner of the British Police Service would be no more.

 

Oxford City shared with all these other “doomed” forces – especially those in Boroughs and smaller cities – a particular kind of ethos that rarely exists (if it does at all) in larger forces. Mostly, their Officers had been brought up in the community and they served as a part of that community, having an intimate knowledge of the place, the people and the problems. Moreover, those long-gone small forces usually had their own individual way of doing things, sometimes their own terminology in some matters, and everybody knew everybody else. The lady who fried the bacon and eggs for early-turn breakfast in the canteen would, on Saturdays, be chatting in the town’s shops with the wives of the men she looked after when at work.