Joseph Simpson

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This article is about the Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police. For other uses, see Joseph Simpson (disambiguation).
Sir Joseph Simpson
KBE KPFSM
Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police
In office
1958–1968
Preceded by Sir John Nott-Bower
Succeeded by Sir John Waldron
Personal details
Born (1909-06-26)26 June 1909
Dawley, Shropshire, England
Died 20 March 1968(1968-03-20) (aged 58)
Roehampton, London, England
Profession Police officer

Sir Joseph Simpson, KBE, KPFSM (26 June 1909 – 20 March 1968), commonly known as Joe Simpson to his men, was Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, the head of the London Metropolitan Police, from 1958 to 1968. He was the first Commissioner who began his police career as an ordinary Constable.

Early life, education and sporting career[edit]

Simpson was born in Dawley [1] in Shropshire[2] and educated at Ashdown House and Oundle School, where he was captain of rugby football and athletics and was Public Schools Champion in long jump in 1927 and 1928, when he set a public school record, and also in 440 yards in 1928.

He then went on to Manchester University College of Technology. He represented the university at rugby and athletics and was World's University Champion in the 400 metre hurdles in 1930. He also played cricket and was a good rifle shot (as Commissioner he was a great supporter of sport in the police).[3]

In his early sporting career he won medals and other trophies with the London Athletic Club, Birchfield Harriers and the Keswick Athletic Club; while in Lincoln and later as Chief Constable of Surrey, he was an active member and medal-winner of Lincoln County Rifle Club, The Surrey County Small Bore Rifle Association, Affiliated Rifle Association, and the National Short Range Rifle League (defunct), based at Bisley and elsewhere.[4]

As Commissioner, Simpson was Vice-Patron of the Amateur Athletic Association and Vice-President of the Middlesex RFU.[5]

Early police career[edit]

After working in the cotton industry for a short period he joined the Metropolitan Police in 1931 and was posted to "X" Division (Wembley), and later to "E" Division (Bow Street). In 1934 he was selected by competitive examination to attend the first course of thirty students at Hendon Police College, beginning the course on 10 May,[6] and was promoted to Acting Station Inspector on graduation at the top of his class in 1936, when he became an instructor at the college.[7]

Provincial police career[edit]

In 1937, Simpson was called to the Bar by Gray's Inn. In July the same year he left the Metropolitan Police to become Assistant Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Constabulary.[8] In 1939 he was seconded (as Acting Inspector of Constabularies) to the Regional Commissioner's Offices for Nottinghamshire and then for Cambridgeshire[9] and in 1943 was appointed Chief Constable of Northumberland Constabulary.[10][11] Simpson was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 1946 New Year Honours for his services to civil defence.[12] He transferred as Chief Constable to Surrey Constabulary later in 1946. He was awarded the King's Police and Fire Services Medal in the 1952 New Year Honours.[13]

Return to the Metropolitan Police[edit]

On 1 March 1956, Simpson rejoined the Metropolitan Police as Assistant Commissioner "B", in charge of traffic policing.[14] During this appointment he visited USA and Canada, with the Transport Minister Ernest Marples who subsequently introduced parking meters in London. On 20 January 1957 he was appointed Deputy Commissioner,[15] and on 1 September 1958 he became Commissioner.[2][16]

Commissioner[edit]

He was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the 1959 New Year Honours.[17]

He was elected Vice-president of The Association of Chief Police Officers of England and Wales (ACPO) in 1966 and President in 1967. In 1963 He was elected President of the Medico-Legal Society for two years.

Simpson was a fair and tolerant man, but also expected the same high standards of others that he set for himself and was a great believer in discipline. He believed in a more equal police force, where senior officers and lower ranks had a closer relationship. This was somewhat marred by the promotion of fellow Hendon graduates as Deputy Commissioner and all four Assistant Commissioners; the short-lived Hendon experiment was never popular with most officers, although actually these appointments were made by the Crown on the advice of the Home Secretary. He strove, with some success, to improve the deteriorating relationship between the police and the public and encouraged the public to "have a go" against crime, although he did issue a warning against tackling armed criminals. He was an enthusiastic supporter of crime prevention and the use of police dogs, and also greatly expanded the Police Cadets. He established the Obscene Publications Squad, Drugs Squad (1963), Special Patrol Group (1961), Art Squad (1967), and Antiques and Philately Squad (1967), laid the foundations for the Scenes of Crime Branch established shortly after his death, and greatly expanded the Flying Squad. He introduced personal radios and the Unit Beat system (1967), whereby the use of panda cars was greatly expanded for patrol purposes. He reorganised the Metropolitan Special Constabulary to integrate them more into the divisions. He introduced traffic wardens and fixed penalty parking fines.

Death[edit]

Simpson was expected by some to retire in 1964, but stayed in office. He died suddenly at his home in Roehampton four years later at the age of 58, his early death probably brought on by stress caused by overwork. His funeral was held with full honours at Westminster Abbey on 29 March 1968,[18] with all Metropolitan Police officers who were able to do so observing a one minute's silence at 11am.[19]

On 4 June 1970 a memorial service was held in the Crypt of St Paul's Cathedral where a memorial plaque in the Chapel, comprising a profiled head in bas-relief,[20] by John Skelton[21] was unveiled by James Callaghan, then Home Secretary.[22]

Family[edit]

He married Elizabeth May Bowler in 1936. They had two sons, the elder of whom, Mark, served for some four years in the British South Africa Police in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe); he resigned in 1963 to avoid being transferred from the Criminal Investigation Department back to the uniformed branch. Some inaccurate press reports say he was dismissed [23] but his BSAP Record of Service rates his conduct as having been 'very good'.[24] Mark Simpson then served briefly in the Rhodesian Army and the Department of Internal Affairs from which he resigned [25] in 1964 because of imminent political change (UDI). He later served for thirty-one years in the Hong Kong Police/Royal Hong Kong Police. He died at Maidstone Hospital on 23rd December 2012, following a short illness. The younger son, Ben, was appointed JP for Gloucestershire in 1971, later transferring to Oxfordshire; he was appointed a Magistrate Member of Thames Valley Police Authority [26] in 1991 and re-appointed as an Independent Member in October 2008, serving till police authorities were abolished on 21st November 2012. Ben Simpson was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the New Year Honours 2010 for services to the community in Oxford.[27]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Tribute on Dawley Heritage website
  2. ^ a b "Metropolitan Police Chief: Deputy to Succeed Sir J. Nott-Bower", The Times, 30 May 1958
  3. ^ The Times, 12 April 1934
  4. ^ Medals and other trophies held in family archive
  5. ^ "A Policeman's Policeman", "The Job (Metropolitan Police Newspaper)", 29 March 1968
  6. ^ "Metropolitan Police College", The Times, 12 April 1934
  7. ^ "Police College Students to Begin Duty", The Times, 23 May 1936
  8. ^ Official Appointments and Notices, The Times, 5 July 1937
  9. ^ 'Assistant Chief Constables' - Lincolnshire Police 'yesteryears'
  10. ^ Photograph of Chief Constables of Northumberland 1935-63, held by Northumbria NARPO.
  11. ^ A portrait of Sir Henry Studdy, Simpson's predecessor, is held in the National Portrait Gallery [1]
  12. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37412. p. 284. 28 December 1945. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 39421. p. 34. 28 December 1951. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: no. 40726. p. 1375. 6 March 1956. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  15. ^ "Metropolitan Police Appointments", The Times, 12 November 1956
  16. ^ The London Gazette: no. 41488. p. 5413. 2 September 1958. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  17. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 41589. p. 10. 30 December 1958. Retrieved 17 December 2007.
  18. ^ "Abbey funeral", The Times, 22 March 1968
  19. ^ "Sir Joseph Simpson", The Times, 27 March 1968
  20. ^ Image on Art & Architecture, web site of the Courtauld Institute of Art (unattributed). Retrieved 4 February 2008
  21. ^ John Skelton, sculptor and lettercutter 1923 - 1999. Retrieved 4 February 2008
  22. ^ "A Leader by example", The Job - (Metropolitan Police Newspaper), 29 June 1970
  23. ^ "Police Chief's Son Dismissed", The Times, 15 July 1963
  24. ^ Record of Service (Discharge Certificate dated 28 June 1963); Family archives.
  25. ^ Letter of acceptance of resignation signed by Neal Robertson, Provincial Commissioner held in family archives dated 25 March 1964
  26. ^ Web site of Thames Valley Police Authority
  27. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59282. p. 22. 31 December 2009.

References[edit]

  • Obituary, The Times, 21 March 1968
  • Martin Fido and Keith Skinner, The Official Encyclopedia of Scotland Yard, London, 1999
Police appointments
Preceded by
William Trigg
Assistant Chief Constable of Lincolnshire
1937–1943
Succeeded by
J H Harker
Preceded by
Henry Studdy
Chief Constable of Northumberland
1943–1946
Succeeded by
Francis J Armstrong
Preceded by
Geoffrey Nicholson
Chief Constable of Surrey
1946–1956
Succeeded by
Herman Rutherford
Preceded by
Sir Henry Dalton
Assistant Commissioner "B", Metropolitan Police
1956–1957
Succeeded by
Douglas Webb
Preceded by
Sir Ronald Howe
Deputy Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
1957–1958
Succeeded by
Alexander Robertson
Preceded by
Sir John Nott-Bower
Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
1958–1968
Succeeded by
Sir John Waldron