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Our history



Delve into our past as we take you on a journey through some of our history over the last 50 years and beyond.

To read in-depth reports on our more recent investigations, visit our Case Files.

Patrol article April 2004: Rounding on the helmet

PatrolarticleApril2004RoundingonthehelmetTHE Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has announced trials for a newly designed unisex police helmet.

Three forces will take part in a pilot for three months, with proposals to extend the initial trials in May, although this does not include Sussex.

Barry Taylor, ACPO spokesman on Police Uniform, said: “The new helmet has evolved as part of the development of the national specifications for police uniforms. Research has shown that one in eight officers suffer head injuries each year, whilst the helmet remains a traditional symbol of the British officer.”














Patrol article published in January 1986 - Uniform Notes by Sergeant Mike Rumble, Headquarters Training


Formed in 1838 to police the ever expanding town of Brighton, the Force's first uniform followed the pattern of the Metropolitan Police - top hat, tail coat and white duck trousers.

Officers had to wear their uniform at all times, whether on duty or not, although they only got paid for the days they actually performed duty. Each man was armed with a staff, and provided with a rattle to summon immediate assistance.

In 1855 the tail coat was replaced by a frock coat and by 1868 the top hat was replaced by a "Cox Comb" pattern helmet with a leather band. The first helmet plate worn with this head gear comprised the Arms of Brighton - the two dolpins, surmounted by a helmet and a star, within an oval garter bearing the wording "Brighton Police". The garter was enclosed in a laurel wreath and a Victorian crown topped the badge.

Originally painted black, the badge was produced in white metal when a new pattern helmet was introduced in the 1890s. The new helmet followed the military pattern with a ball top with a silver band, and with minor variations remained in use until 1968.

A horizontally striped duty band was worn on the left arm and continued in use up to the First World War. In 1933 a new helmet plate was introduced to replace the laurel wreath, The Brighton Arms appeared with an eight point star surmounted by the Kings Crown, and this pattern with change of crown in 1953, continued in use untiil 1968.

The year 1933 also saw the introduction of the famous white summer helmet which was worn on day duty between May and September, right up until 1939. It was later reintroduced between 1952 and 1968.

Open neck tunics were worn from the early 1950s although the close neck pattern continued to be worn on the night duty for some years. A black helmet plate and black ball top were worn on night duty helmets.

Patrol article published in January 1993 - 'The Shield'

IN 1968, the Sussex Police Authority was granted a coat of arms in the form of a shield with a blue background, five martlets in gold and a centrepiece of a castle tower.

This coat of arms came about at the instigation of the then chairman of the authority, the late Duke of Norfolk. There is of course a formal description of what these heraldic devices are intended to portray but in colloquial terms the description is as follows:—

Firstly the blue background is intended to represent the sea and the 100 miles or so of coastline enjoyed by the Sussex Police area.

Secondly the gold colour of the martlets and the tower is intended to represent the sun, given that Sussex traditionally has a reputation for enjoying more sun than most areas of the country.

The five martlets were chosen because the martlet is historically an heraldic device associated particularly within the counties of Sussex and there are five of them to represent the five constituent forces, ie. West Sussex, East Sussex, Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings, which were drawn together in the amalgamation to form Sussex Poiice on 1 January 1968.

The central feature of a castle tower indicates the history of Sussex still visible in die five cashes, namely Arundel, Lewes, Pevensey, Bodlam and Herstmonceux, but it was importantly, in the words of the late Duke of Norfolk, a pictorial illustration of “the tower of strength which the police service is within the community”.

Most Forces adopt the coat of arms of their parent county councils or metropolitan authorities. To that extent the Sussex Police coat of arms is very unusual.

Kris, who joined in 1996 as a staff member shared this:

When I joined as a Clerk/Typist back in 1996 I was still using an OAS orange screen and would have to count my lines of typing to make sure they’d fit on one page.

Then I’d have to walk up to the printing room at the far end of the building and put in the coloured paper I needed for printing contracts and return to my office and send the document to print. If I was lucky someone else hadn’t sent something to print in the meantime. Usually though, I’d end up having a few journeys before a successful print out on the correct combination of papers!

Joining in an age before mobile media, video based learning and even email, it’s great to see the impact these advances have had on the working environment, on our working lives, and the service we can now provide to the public.


'Spotlight On...' series and other videos


Recently a sixteen-year-old newsboy was stopped by a policeman one dark morning and told that his newspaper bag was obscuring the front lamp of his bicycle, the boy replied “If you want to make an issue out of it, do something about it. Don’t tell me to be a good boy”.

Subsequently at Haywards Heath Juvenile Court he was fined £3 for not displaying a plainly visible light.

The boy told the Magistrates:“The policeman was trying to adopt the friendly policeman attitude towards me. It was not his job to do that. If I committed an offence, it was his job to bring me here, which he has done."

Patrol-article-jan-1969-personally-speaking-commentary-on-walking-out-with-a-gangsterA WOMAN interviewed recently on B.B.C. television suggested that crime was respectable nowadays, and that it was a mark of status to go ’Out with gangsters.

This disturbing assertion followed a plea that the sentence of 25 years’ imprisonment imposed on Bruce Reynolds was bad because it would not help to reform him.

Of course, there have always been people ready to admire criminals, and to walk out with gangsters for instance, other criminals and other gangsters. But for a responsible person to suggest that these views are widely held by the general public is surely naive in the extreme. Nor can it become true in the future, even as crimes increase. For, as this happens, so will the number of victims also increase; and they certainly will not regard their assailants as respectable.

Do those who admire, or profess to admire, the bold­ness and organising ability of the major criminal ever give thought to his victim? The police certainly see the victim’s point of view, because we are on the victim’s side; and there must be many of us who welcome the help increasingly given by members of the public in the pursuit and capture of criminals.

Those members of the public who help us in this way are expressing, in practical fashion, their lack of respect for criminals, and, by implication at any rate, their sympathy with the victims.

We can only hope that they are not persuaded to withdraw their help, by preposterous assertions that “crime is respectable".

Patrol-article-July-1968-the-need-to-keep-in-touch-why-patrol-was-startedMessage from His Grace the Duke of Norfolk, Chairman of the Sussex Police Authority.

When we had five Police Forces in Sussex it was easy to communicate in the smaller areas, and for everybody in a Force to know what was going on.

Now, however, one Force covers the whole of Sussex, and the Chief Constable realises the difficulty members of the new Force must have in keeping in touch with their current and their old colleagues.

Then, too, there must be many Sussex people outside the Force who would welcome the opportunity of knowing what is going on.

This is why PATROL has been introduced and I recommend it to everyone, and wish it success.


Patrol-article-july-1968-personally-speaking-commentary-on-the-merging-of-the-five-borough-forces-into-the-sussex-constabularySOME of you may think the amalgamation has produced quite enough paper already, without adding another fortnightly ration. But this, I hope you will agree, is different. This is a newspaper, and like any other newspaper it is about people and what they are doing; it offers a panorama of what is happening in the force.

For, as the Chairman of the Sussex Police Authority, the Duke of Norfolk, puts it in his note of welcome, it’s not easy for any of us to know what’s going on in a force of this size. There are 3,220 of us (or would be, if the Home Office hadn’t restricted our strength to 3,039 during the present financial difficulties), and Rye is 75 miles from Chichester. Inevitably, our old boundaries have been broken down, and some old friends and colleagues have moved away, to make new friendships and meet new colleagues.

And so Patrol is an effort to bridge the distances we now must face, and accelerate the process of getting to know one another. It will take a lot of effort by a lot of people if it is to achieve its aim. But I am sure it will do this.

This first issue starts with the advantage of being able to cover what was a truly first- class expression of the amalgamation of our old forces - the police pageant and parade at Expo Sussex ’68. All the characteristics of the five former forces were in the line-up - even the lamented white helmets of Brighton. But then 1968, and the amalgamated Sussex Constabulary, took over; and very impressive they were.

But they were just the same men and women as before, doing the same job; and that’s the real point


It may assist the education of present-day policemen for them to learn how members of the Force went about the task of improving their professional minds more than half a century ago.

The opportunity for this comes from a rediscovered book which belonged to an ex-policeman and which was passed to the Public Relations Department recently.

The book’s title is “Self Education for the Police." It was compiled by H. Childs and was published by the Police Review Office.

This particular copy is described as the “Fourth and Revised Edition" but it gives no date of publication, either for this or any preceding edition. A mem­ber of the Police Review publishing staff remembered the book but was unable to provide a publication date.

But some of the questions and answers suggest that it dates back more than 50 years.

For instance, in Lesson V (the book contains, in fact, XXIV lessons) there is this question: What age must a person be before a publican can serve him with spirits, to be consumed on the premises? Also beer.

Beer at 13

Mercifully there is a section at the back with the answers, and the solution to this question is given as: Spirits - apparently 16 and over: beer - apparently 13 and over.

We have been used to a general legal minimum drinking age of 18 for a long time now, but the Legal Branch were able to throw some light on the matter.

Looking back through their records they found that the ages quoted in the book were those laid down by legislation in force from 1872 to 1923.

As this volume is described as the fourth and revised edition, indications are that this edition dates from about or before 1920, so that the first edition could have been published considerably earlier.

This is supported further by a question in Lesson 1 which says: “If you saw the driver of an omnibus working a horse in an unfit condition what steps would you take?"

The last horse bus in London made its final journey in October 1911 and horse buses will have remained in other parts of the country for only a few years more.

But if you had been a policeman in the early part of the century and found yourself dealing with an omnibus driver working an unfit horse the action you should have taken, according to the book is: “If not a serious case, prevent him (the driver) from working it (the horse) and make a full report of the case, giving a description of the horse and wound (if any). If serious, charge him."

Quite unhelpful is the answer to the question in Lesson VIII: “At what time must a Licensed Refreshment House close?" It simply says: “Same time as a public house."

Ill horse

The book gives examples of how reports should be written on a number of varying incidents. These include “Collision between an omnibus and hansom cab. The horse in the hansom cab is injured and afterwards has to be killed."

There is another on “Horse suddenly taken ill in the street" - which might be useful in these days of growing popularity in horse riding.

Yet another takes us back to the omnibus subject - setting out a report on a driver of an omnibus who fell from his seat and was injured due to the horses making an unexpected movement.

There is a series of arithmetical problems, many of them being tests for police constables seeking promotion to sergeant and for sergeants seeking promotion to inspector.

If you wanted to be a sergeant 50 years or so ago, you tried your hand at this sort of thing:

“Multiply £953612 14s. 9.5 d. by 69.”
“Reduce 5036125 three halfpences to half crowns.”
“Subtract 89387068 from 93265431."
And if you were a sergeant after inspector rank you met questions like this -
“After paying income tax on £600 I had £580 left: how much did I pay in the £?"
“Find the greatest common measure of 65 and 39, 84 and 105, 240 and 126." 
“Divide .0001 by 1000”


The book is considerably concerned with correct spelling and reproduces several lists of words, many of them prefixed by the advice that the most effectual way for adults to learn the spelling it sets is by writing the words as often as possible. 
With pens poised and pencils sharpened try this example of "Difficult words from examinations papers"

Beneficial, curious, curiosity, existence, statue, statute, quay, buoy, vehicle, stirred, diarrhoea, rendezvous, expense, immense, benefited, slaughter, develop, envelop, awe, awful.

Spring cart

Finally, for an example of one of those fully-written reports, let us examine this one, headed “P.C. injured on duty." It reads:

I beg to report that at … p.m. inst while on duty in . . . (street or road), parish of . . . I heard shouts of ‘Stop him!’ and saw a horse attached to a light spring cart, with a bicycle entangled in the near side wheel, being driven at a furious rate along the above road.

“I immediately called upon the driver to stop, and ran into the roadway and held up my hands with a view to stopping the horse; but the driver whipped the horse and urged it on. I then endeavoured to catch hold of the reins, and, in doing so was knocked down, the rear wheel of the cart passing over my left leg, thereby injuring the same. The horse was stopped by P.C..... (No) ... (name) .... when it was found that the driver (name) ... (age), of ... (address) was drunk, and that he had just previously collided with a bicycle belonging to ....(name).....(address), which had been left standing by the kerb in above thoroughfare, the owner of which machine had immediately pursued the cart, and cried out "Stop him!"

The driver was then taken into custody by P.C. (as above), and charged with being drunk and furiously driving to the common danger of the public thereby causing actual bodily harm to myself. I was subsequently seen by the Divisional Surgeon, who certified me to be suffering from severe bruises to left leg and directed me to be placed on the sick list. Name …. No….”

Driving under the influence is nothing new!

patrol-article-jan-1969-oh-to-be-a-policeman-poem-by-an-officer's-mumA ‘POLICEMAN’ is supposed to be Immune,
To the temptations of this Life,
And his character beyond reproach,
Like that of Caesar’s Wife. 
He must not faint at sight of blood,
Nor cringe from the bandit’s gun,
He must calm a yelling crowd,
And chase a prisoner on the run.
When, at the scene of accident,
Robbery, flood, or sudden fire.
He must, at all times, be efficient.
And he must never tire.
‘Angels’, with Ethereal Perfection,
Wear ‘halos’ of Heavenly Light,
But man is made of flesh and blood,
Doing his best, to put things right.
Please, don’t expect him to work miracles,
And, the whole world, convert.
A ‘Policeman’ is a Human Being, 
And ‘Halos’ sometimes hurt.

DURING the latter part of November last year, the wives, girl friends and other female personnel of Seaford Police Sub-Division, formed their own club, which they have named the “Blue Penny Club”. The early promise has been maintained and almost 50 members enjoy the various activities.

On January 20, members and friends gathered at Seaford’s Social Room, and were given a display of hairdressing by Kenneth of Preston Street, Brighton. The demonstration was part of the current health and beauty programme of the club. Six members, Mesdames Rummery, Cook, North, Allibone, De Lima and Miss Peirce, were prepared at Mr. Kenneth’s salon earlier in the day and were brushed out before the audience. Their daytime styles were then converted for evening, in some cases with the addition of a hair-piece. Mr. Kenneth was for three years a hairdresser to Miss World contenders.

The current programme of the “Blue Pennies”, which concludes in April, will feature a make-up demonstration. There is also a “Keep Fit” class which is running weekly. The next session will be concerned with local affairs.

Statistics at times can be both boring and misleading, indeed it is often said that they can be made to prove, or disprove, anything.

Looking at recent statistics relating to Force strength and establishments one is reminded that the Queen’s Peace is maintained by a very “thin red line": the establishment figure allows for one police officer to every five hundred and twenty-five members of the population.

While on first glance this could mean very little, does it not highlight how dependent we are in the Police Service on the continuing help, support and co-operation of society if law and order is to be maintained?

The enforcement of law and order has always been based on the overriding desire by society to voluntarily comply with what they consider to be right. Implicit in the acceptability of these principles is the support of the Police.

Naturally if that support becomes less effective, then the preservation of law and order becomes more difficult and one has only to recall the fairly recent industrial problems to appreciate this.

Nevertheless, for some time now there appears to have been an increasing tendency for society to be more critical of the Police, of our methods and our attitudes.

We in turn are critical at times of the lack of appreciation by society of our difficulties and of the lack of support and co-operation by some sections of the community.

We are quick to point out that a police officer can only act within the provision of the law, which, in the main is to protect members of the public against all types of aggression and at times to risk his life in so doing. 

He doesn’t require praise for this, but having been told by society to protect our way of life, he is surely entitled to hope society will itself share in the task.

So what, if anything, has gone wrong with the relationship between the Police and the community and why, as some people suggest, is that relationship less harmonious and therefore less effective than it used to be? Is it that we have not fully appreciated the changing attitudes of society? Could it be that the criticism stems from a desire to know “why,” and to ensure that our standards and traditions are maintained?

The Police Service forms part of the society it serves and must be prepared to adapt itself in a changing world. Not least in its considerations must be the changes in outlook of the men and women who make up the Service.

It has become a way of life for the younger generation to question “why.” Some of the older generation find this attitude irritating, others approve of the desire to question the validity of some aspects of life which have hitherto gone on unchallenged.

Misunderstanding and disharmony often stem from a lack of communication. We in the Service could, with advantage, take the initiative and make a concerted effort to restore our close relationship with the public and so regain their confidence.

Certainly the means of establishing contact between the Police and the public is not the exclusive prerogative of a small group of specialists at Headquarters. It is, as we all know, one of the very important functions of every police officer, irrespective of rank or length of service.

We must seize every opportunity, both on and off duty, through our associations with the Press, Schools, Universities, Parent Associations and other responsible organisations too numerous to mention, to freely and frankly discuss our mutual problems.

We should take the members of the public into our confidence and so encourage them to play their full part in affording us the support we seek.

Of course, one of the most helpful contributions would be the early approval of the Home Office to our request for an increase in staff for what I am sure we all agree to be, our “front rank public relations officers” — the men on the beat.

A Guide for Civilians in the Police Service.

Have you ever overheard a conversation between officers and not understood a word they’ve said? The police service offers a language alien to many.

PC Graham Wellspring, of Burgess Hill, has now created a guide to commonly used words, phrases and abbreviations for Mid-Sussex Sub Division.

Antecedents — person’s history, details and financial circumstances for information of court.

Black (RTA) — fatal accident.

Blue label — small form reporting absent driver of vehicle for an offence.

Breaker — burglar

Captain Flack — slang for fire brigade

Trumpton — also fire brigade.

Dabs — fingerprints.

Drum — slang for home address.

Gaff — also home address.

Factory — police station.

Flasher — flashing warning marker on Police National Computer.

In the bin — slang for in the cells.

Lift(ed) — arrest(ed).

Polac — accident involving a police vehicle in some way.

Proby — slang for probationer.

Seven day wonder — form HORT/1 giving driver chance to produce driving documents within seven days.

Spin — check out (house or car).

Vulcan — operation brought into use in event of prison over crowding and use of police cells or remand prisoners.

The Old Police Cells Museum is located in the basement of Brighton Town Hall and offers an educational and entertaining insight into the history of policing within Sussex.

It provides an opportunity to visit Brighton Borough main police station for the period 1830 to 1967 and learn about the murder of Chief Constable Henry Solomon in 1844 by a prisoner. See some of the old cells with their graffiti from the Mods and Rockers era, the policeman's wash room and uniform store areas, police memorabilia and artefacts.

The Museum also houses a unique collection of truncheons and tipstaffs, one of the largest in the country. This collection was made by Alderman Caffyn throughout his lifetime and is on permanent loan to the Museum.