Kenneth Newman

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Sir Kenneth Newman
Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police
In office
Preceded by Sir David McNee
Succeeded by Sir Peter Imbert
Personal details
Born (1926-08-15) 15 August 1926 (age 88)
Sussex, England
Profession Police officer

Sir Kenneth Leslie Newman GBE QPM (born 15 August 1926) was Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police from 1982 to 1987 and Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary from 1976 to 1980. He is best known for initiating a major reform and restructure of the Metropolitan Police during his tenure as Commissioner and for seeing the Royal Ulster Constabulary replace the British Army as the dominant security force in Northern Ireland during his tenure as Chief Constable.

Early life and career[edit]

Newman was born on 15 August 1926[1] in Sussex and joined the Royal Air Force in 1942. After basic training, Newman trained to be a wireless operator at No. 1 Radio School RAF when he was nicknamed "Jankers" but he did not complete the course and remustered to become a Mechanical Transport Driver.[2] Completing his training, Newman served for two years with the RAF Far East Air Force. On his return to England, he promptly joined the Palestine Police Force in the British Mandate of Palestine, where he served as a uniformed officer before being seconded to the Palestine Special Branch as a detective. When the Palestine Police were disbanded in 1948, the Metropolitan Police sent several recruitment officers from London to convince interested officers to transfer to the Met – Newman signed up and returned to London shortly afterwards where he was stationed at Bow Street.

Life in the Met[edit]

Newman rose up the ranks quickly: promoted to Sergeant in 1953; a Detective Inspector with the Vice Squad; Chief Inspector at Southwark in 1963 and Superintendent and Chief Superintendent at Gerald Road from 1965. Noted by his colleagues and superiors as a high-flyer, Newman had developed several important initiatives including a traffic warden scheme and, having been present and having taken a very active role on the 'front line' during the riot, reviewing police public order tactics during the major anti-Vietnam War demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy in Grosvenor Square, which had taken place on 17 March 1968.

After undertaking external studies at the University of London, Newman received a Bachelor of Laws with Honours in 1971, and was promoted to Commander, serving in various capacities at New Scotland Yard.

Northern Ireland[edit]

In 1973, Newman applied for the position of Deputy Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland, and was promoted to Chief Constable in May 1976. Using his experience in public order policing, and his penchant for reform, Newman was instrumental in transforming the RUC from a "poor cousin" of the British Army in the province, to a streamlined and effective,[citation needed] police force. He introduced the policy of Ulsterisation. Newman was knighted in 1978 after his work with the RUC.


Newman was recalled to England in 1980, and served for three years as Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary and Commandant of the Police Staff College, Bramshill, where he once again honed his skills in public order policing and management reform.


Newman's appointment as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police in 1982 came at a time when the Met was under intense public and media scrutiny. Newman subsequently initiated one of the most major reform campaigns the Met had ever undertaken. Amongst his initiatives were:

  • disbanding the controversial Special Patrol Group and replacement with the better trained and equipped Territorial Support Group
  • the establishment of Area-based policing, divesting the centralised officers and resources of New Scotland Yard into eight geographical areas
  • publishing Principles of Policing to replace the traditional Standing Orders, with the assistance of the new MPS Policy Committee, changing the fundamental guidelines for policing in London for the first time in 150 years

Newman also spoke out against the prevalence of Freemasonry in the police, although a police Freemason's Lodge, the Manor of St James, was set up and flourished shortly after his comments.

Newman retired in 1987, his reforms paving the way for his successor, Sir Peter Imbert, to implement further reforms known as the PLUS Programme.


  1. ^ "Birthdays". The Times. 15 August 2007. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 
  2. ^
Police appointments
Preceded by
Sir James Flanagan
Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary
Succeeded by
Sir John Hermon
Preceded by
Sir David McNee
Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis
Succeeded by
Sir Peter Imbert