Jump to content

Arthur Young (police officer)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Arthur Young
Sir Arthur Young, head-length portrait photograph looking left with moustache, in police uniform
Sir Arthur Young, 1966 photograph
Arthur Edwin Young

Occupationpolice officer

Colonel Sir Arthur Edwin Young KBE CMG CVO OStJ KPM (15 February 1907 – 20 January 1979) was a British police officer.[1] He was Commissioner of Police of the City of London from 1950 to 1971 and was also the first head of the Royal Ulster Constabulary to be styled Chief Constable. Young was instrumental in the creation of the post of Chief Inspector of Constabulary.[2]

In the early 1950s, Young played a key role in the decolonisation of policing in the British Empire. His exit from Kenya at the end of 1954 became a political scandal and cause célèbre. During the 1960s, he led the way in modernising British police recruitment and in improving the training of senior officers.

Clive Emsley commented:

Young shared the heroic vision of the British Bobby and was always focussed on the idea that police officers should enjoy good, even friendly relations with the people that they served.[3]

Young gained a reputation as the "policeman's policeman", associated with his concerns for the conditions of work of serving police officers. He liked to use it of himself.[4][5]

Early life and education[edit]

Young was born at 55 Chamberlayne Road, Eastleigh, Hampshire, one of four children of Edwin Young (1878–1936), a builder and contractor, and his wife Gertrude Mary (née Brown; 1880–1945).[6] He attended Mayville Preparatory School, Southsea from 1912 to 1915 and then Portsmouth Grammar School from 1915 to 1924.

Aged sixteen, Young left school to join the Portsmouth Borough Police, against his family's wishes.[6][7]

Early police career[edit]

Portsmouth Police[edit]

Young's father's business partner John Henry Corke secured him an initial placement in the office of Chief Constable Thomas Davies in December 1924. Young had the post of cadet clerk.[8] On the advice of the chief constable, he first took a course in business and accountancy.[9]

Appointed a constable in May 1925, he became the coroner's officer in April 1932. In June 1932, aged 25, he became the youngest detective sergeant in the United Kingdom, serving with the Northern Division CID. During his time there, he led investigations into murder, blackmail, fraud and arson. He headed the enquiries into the UK's first case of manslaughter arising from the use of an aeroplane. Simultaneously, he began to take an ever more prominent involvement in the many royal visits to Portsmouth; when Haile Selassie visited the dockyard in September 1937, he acted as his personal escort and French interpreter. During these years, Young was also entrusted with what he later cryptically termed "enquiries concerning the activities of subversive persons and propaganda, and also with other matters affecting state security". It was also during these years that he acquired his passion for ever better police equipment and his personal love of new gadgets.

Young was promoted to inspector in June 1937 and appointed to Portsmouth's Southern Division. In Eastney and Southsea, he gained his first taste of the complexity of the problems created by traffic, of measures to be taken for its efficient control and of the need to promote road safety. A keen motorist (who progressed from a motorcycle to a series of fast cars), he took a pragmatic approach.

Leamington Spa Borough Police[edit]

Young wanted to head his own force. After one unsuccessful attempt, for the chief constableship of the Isle of Wight Constabulary, he became acting chief constable of Leamington Spa Borough Police in September 1938, aged 31, at a salary of £500 per annum. One year later, he was appointed to the permanent post of chief constable. In his first nine months in post, he secured an increase of twelve in the force's establishment of 45. He also reorganised the borough's fire brigade.

Among other innovations, Young set up twelve of the then new "police pillars". They were a network of two-way microphone handsets across the borough, enabling the public to contact police stations and civil defence posts directly. The base of the pillar contained first aid equipment while, a Leamington innovation, a flashing red light on the top called up policemen on patrol.

Police pillar with West Midlands Police officers, c.1950

After the Coventry Blitz of November 1940, Young was seconded by the Home Office for six months to run the Coventry City Police, the chief constable being fully occupied as civil defence controller. He introduced there a "good neighbour scheme" for civilians who had been bombed out that he had previously set up in Leamington.[6]

Birmingham City Police[edit]

Young made several unsuccessful applications for promotion: the East Riding of Yorkshire Constabulary in 1939, Portsmouth City Police in 1940, Oxford City Police in 1940). In 1941 he was selected as senior assistant chief constable of Birmingham City Police.[10] The chief constable (1941–45) was William Clarence Johnson.[11]

It was in Birmingham that Young began with police training. He also established in 1942 a radio telephone system linking police stations and police cars.

Wartime service[edit]

In February 1943, Young was one of a number of chief constables seconded to the War Office's Civil Affairs Training Centre and attended the first course for senior officers. Before the course was finished, he was transferred to the instructing staff and in June 1943 he was appointed the first commandant of the new Police Civil Affairs Training Centre at Peel House in London (gazetted with the rank of lieutenant-colonel) and charged with the task of setting up the training school for policemen and provost officers. Their duties would be to maintain law and order in Axis territory as it was liberated by Allied forces.

Shortly afterwards, Young was promoted colonel, and moved in July 1943 to be senior British police officer in the Mediterranean Theatre. He was stationed in North Africa awaiting the Allied invasion of Sicily. After the invasion, he worked in the Allied Control Commission for Italy. In December 1943 he was given the role of director of the security branch of the Allied Military Government of Occupied Territories.[12] His post with the Control Commission in Italy lasted to 1945.[10] The approaches Young developed in Italy were adapted elsewhere Allied occupied Europe in 1944–1945. He considered his major personal achievement was reorganising the Carabinieri.[6]

Post-war police service[edit]

Young was appointed Chief Constable of Hertfordshire Constabulary in 1944; but he was not demobilised until 1945.[6] He emphasised pay and conditions for his officers. In 1946 he wrote

"I hold the view that the police organisation is not a police force but a police service, which offers to the right individual not merely a job but all the advantages of a professional career. I believe in doing everything reasonably possible by way of improving the conditions and amenities for all ranks of the service, and in particular in delegating both authority and responsibility to officers according to their rank. Having done this I am prepared to accept nothing but the highest standard of service by way of return."

He was appointed by the Home Office to a committee chaired by Sir Percy Sillitoe to consider the wireless needs of all forces. At this period he became re-acquainted with the politician James Callaghan, from Portsmouth, now a junior minister at the Ministry of Transport.

Young applied unsuccessfully to be chief constable of Kent in 1946. Through Home Secretary James Chuter Ede he was appointed in 1947 Assistant Commissioner "D" of the Metropolitan Police in London, in charge of organisation, recruitment, training and communications. Things, however, did not go well, since colleagues shunned him.[6] Then Young was the first former police constable to be appointed Commissioner of Police of the City of London, in March 1950. He held the post to 1971.[10]

Colonial police reforms of the 1950s[edit]

In 1948, W. C. Johnson, Young's old chief from Birmingham, was appointed to the Colonial Office, as police advisor to the Colonial secretary. From 1949, he was Inspector-General of Colonial Police.[11][13][14][15] He left that position in 1951 and was succeeded by his assistant George Abbiss.[11][16] The post was an innovation, created with as its motivations both Cold War fear of communist influence,[14][15] and the wish (clearly signalled and raising concern in colonial forces) to bring colonial policing into line with British practice.[16]

Young was sent on colonial missions for police reform. First came a short period in the Gold Coast. The Convention People's Party was arousing police interest, ahead of the 1951 Gold Coast general election.[17] Young was there in 1950, for two months, with Chief Superintendent Wilson of the Metropolitan Police, and wrote a substantial report for Matthew Collens, the inspector-general of police.[18]


In 1952–1953, Young was seconded to the Federation of Malaya as its commissioner of police, during the Emergency. He arrived in February 1952, bringing again Chief Superintendent Wilson who was to train uniformed police.[19] In broad terms Gerald Templer and Young conformed to the "Briggs Plan", proposed by Harold Rawdon Briggs, for resettling rural Chinese-Malayans. Success was obtained from 1952 onwards in limiting the insurgency.[20] Young chose his successor, William Carbonell, without regard to seniority.[21]


In 1954, Young undertook a further secondment, in Kenya as commissioner of police during the Mau Mau rebellion. He followed the parliamentary delegation that went to Kenya in January 1954, led by Walter Elliot and Arthur Bottomley, and reported some months later.[22][23] Oliver Lyttleton, the Colonial Secretary, visited Kenya three times in the period 1952–4, before resigning from the third Churchill ministry in July 1954.[24][25] Young arrived in Kenya in March of that year, and immediately required that policing should be carried out with minimal physical force.[22]

Young appointed Duncan MacPherson (1912–1989) from the Royal Hong Kong Police Force[26] as head of CID, to investigate allegations against the army, police and Kikuyu Home Guard.[27][28] From 1951 CID had been under John Timmerman, a Canadian RCMP and WWII intelligence officer who was assistant police commissioner, brought in to reorganise it, and who from 1955 worked for the Department of External Affairs in security.[29][30][31] The trial on 10 December 1954 for perjury of George Horsfall of the Kenya Police, and Derek Searle of the Reserve, was met by demands for an inquiry from Reserve officers into CID methods.[32]

Young resigned after less than eight months. He saw widespread interference of the executive in policing. His resignation letter to Evelyn Baring was suppressed.[6] His replacement was Richard Catling, a sceptic when it came to George Erskine's policy on detention of Kikuyu.[33] He had arrived from Malaya in April as a deputy commissioner and police trainer.[34] John Whyatt, Attorney-General of Kenya and an ally of Young, was made Chief Justice of Singapore in 1955.[35][36]

Before leaving Kenya, Young asked MacPherson to compile a concise file of issues with Baring's administration: it was not circulated, but Young used his Anglican contacts to make the content known.[37] Karl Hack reports Young's resignation as driven by the failure to have murders by the Kikuyu Home Guard investigated. He comments also on the differences between Malaya and Kenya, stating that in Young's view efforts to make policing "friendly to the public" initially had failed in the latter, having largely succeeded in the former.[38]

On his return to the United Kingdom, Young met privately with the clerical activist Michael Scott and the politician Barbara Castle. He made no move to publicise his views.[39] The Christian Council of Kenya was split, with David Steel moved by Young's departure, coupled with a raid on Mombasa's YMCA, to preach strongly against Baring's administration in St Andrew's Church, Nairobi; while Leonard Beecher opposed him. Steel brought the Church Missionary Society (CMS) into his camp.[40] On 22 December 1954, Lord Ogmore asked in the House of Lords if the government would make a statement on Young's resignation.[41] Behind the scenes, while talking to the Colonial Office about a non-disclosure agreement, Young briefed against Baring to Kenneth George Grubb of the CMS, and encouraged the CMS missionary Thomas Francis Cecil Bewes to keep up the pressure. Grubb wrote a letter to The Times, published 22 January 1955.[42] Geoffrey Fisher, the Archbishop of Canterbury, met Baring during December 1954, but Beecher asked him to leave matters to the churches in Kenya.[43] He was in discussions with Frederick Crawford, acting Governor, and considered church leaders bound by undertakings of confidentiality.[44]

In the House of Lords on 10 February 1955, William Jowitt, 1st Earl Jowitt cited a Times report of the East African Court of Appeal, in which it was stated that the authority of detention teams could not be fathomed in law. He said "It is in that context that I find disquieting the sending out of Colonel Young to investigate the affairs of the police and his coming back for some reason which I do not fully understand."[45] Bottomley challenged the Colonial Secretary, by then Alan Lennox-Boyd, on 16 March 1955 in a House of Commons debate on colonial affairs, stating that "there has been no satisfactory explanation yet of the resignation of Colonel Young".[46] In a 1959 debate on the Hola massacre, Castle accused Lennox-Boyd of repeated cover-ups, and suppression of reports including Young's. She also quoted from MacPherson, who had remained in Kenya for two years after Young had left. He had been told by Young's successor as commissioner of police to stop investigations into camp deaths.[46]

Royal Ulster Constabulary[edit]

In November 1969 Young was seconded to be the last inspector-general and the first chief constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. James Callaghan, then Home Secretary, sent him to implement the Hunt Report. Young's measures introduced the standard British rank system for police officers in Northern Ireland and disbanded the Ulster Special Constabulary. In his tenure to 1970, he gained the approval of nationalists.[6] Georgina Sinclair has argued that he was overly influenced by arguments put to him by constitutional Irish nationalists.[47]

Views and other positions[edit]

Improved pay and conditions and professional standards were Young's constant pre-occupations. Uniforms were made more comfortable and practical. At national level, he ran command courses and saw through a fast-track entry scheme to attract graduates.

Young fought for the recruitment and promotion of women. He resisted the traditional placement of military officers into police commands; and opposed Lord Trenchard's approach in his 1932 Commissioner's Report, base on "promoting from within wasn't working",[48] as inappropriate for the British police service. He ran an adroit campaign from 1960 on the police inspectorate, aimed at the Royal Commission on the Police. It dealt with opposition to innovation. Sir Charles Cunningham then blocked Young's selection as the first Chief Inspector of Constabulary.[6]

Young chaired the Police Council for the UK, the Association of Chief Police Officers training centres committee and the education committee of the National Police Fund. He was a governor of the Police College and of Atlantic College, and a member of the committees of the Police Advisory Board, the National Police Fund, the Royal Humane Society, the National Rifle Association, the National Scout Council, and the Thames Group Hospitals. He was president of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in 1962.


Young married three times.

  1. In 1939, he married Ivy Ada May Hammond (1909–1956), a nurse; they had a son.[6][10] She had trained at the Royal Portsmouth Hospital, meeting Young there when he was a police constable.[49]
  2. In 1957, he married Margaret Furnival Homan, née Dolphin (died 1966).[6][10]
  3. In 1970, he married Ileen Fryer Turner (née Rayner).[6][10] She died on 31 December 2002.


Young died at St Thomas's Hospital, London, on 20 January 1979. After cremation, his ashes were scattered at Beachy Head.

Awards and honours[edit]

Young was awarded the King's Police Medal (KPM) in the 1952 New Year Honours.[50] The following year, he was appointed Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in the 1953 Coronation Honours "for services as Commissioner of Police, Federation of Malaya"[51] and was further appointed Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) in the 1962 Birthday Honours.[52] He was knighted in the 1965 Birthday Honours,[53] and was formally conferred with his knighthood by the Queen at Buckingham Palace on 16 November of that year.[54] For his work in Northern Ireland he was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the 1971 New Year Honours.[55]




  1. ^ Kaye, Sidney (1985). Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety. Proceedings. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Washington, D.C. p. 1396.
  2. ^ "Papers of Sir Arthur Edwin Young".
  3. ^ Emsley, Clive (24 January 2019). Exporting British Policing During the Second World War: Policing Soldiers and Civilians. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 211. ISBN 978-1-350-09905-0.
  4. ^ Bijl, Nicholas van der (30 March 2017). Mau Mau Rebellion: The Emergency in Kenya, 1952–1956. Casemate Publishers. p. 198. ISBN 978-1-4738-6459-7.
  5. ^ Edwards, Aaron (28 February 2018). Defending the realm?: The politics of Britain's small wars since 1945. Manchester University Press. p. 192. ISBN 978-1-5261-2995-6.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Jones, Martin D. W. "Young, Sir Arthur Edwin (1907–1979)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/40816. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. ^ "Arthur Young's Travels in France during the Years 1787, 1788, 1789".
  8. ^ Emsley, Clive (24 January 2019). Exporting British Policing During the Second World War: Policing Soldiers and Civilians. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 121. ISBN 978-1-350-09905-0.
  9. ^ "YOUNG, ARTHUR EDWIN. 1945 - 1947".
  10. ^ a b c d e f "Young, Col Sir Arthur". Who's Who. A & C Black. Retrieved 16 August 2022. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  11. ^ a b c Kelly's (1961). Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes. Kelly's Directories. p. 1118.
  12. ^ Emsley, Clive (24 January 2019). Exporting British Policing During the Second World War: Policing Soldiers and Civilians. Bloomsbury Academic. p. 137. ISBN 978-1-350-09905-0.
  13. ^ Jones, Tim (6 December 2012). Post-war Counterinsurgency and the SAS, 1945-1952: A Special Type of Warfare. Routledge. p. 79. ISBN 978-1-136-33924-0.
  14. ^ a b Comber, Leon (2008). Malaya's Secret Police 1945-60: The Role of the Special Branch in the Malayan Emergency. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. p. 107. ISBN 978-981-230-829-0.
  15. ^ a b Anderson, David; Killingray, David (15 June 2021). Policing and Decolonisation. Manchester University Press. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-5261-6298-4.
  16. ^ a b Sinclair, Georgina (2006). Colonial Policing and the Imperial Endgame 1945-1980: 'At the End of the Line'. Manchester University Press. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-7190-7138-6.
  17. ^ Holland, R. F. (6 December 2012). Emergencies and Disorder in the European Empires After 1945. Routledge. p. 111. ISBN 978-1-136-29718-2.
  18. ^ Sinclair, Georgina (2006). Colonial Policing and the Imperial Endgame 1945-1980: 'At the End of the Line'. Manchester University Press. p. 73. ISBN 978-0-7190-7138-6.
  19. ^ Comber, Leon (2008). Malaya's Secret Police 1945-60: The Role of the Special Branch in the Malayan Emergency. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. pp. 173–4. ISBN 978-981-230-829-0.
  20. ^ Corum, James S.; Johnson, Wray R. (2003). Airpower in Small Wars: Fighting Insurgents and Terrorists. University Press of Kansas. pp. 189–190. ISBN 978-0-7006-1239-0.
  21. ^ Anderson, David; Killingray, David (15 June 2021). Policing and Decolonisation. Manchester University Press. p. 198 note 45. ISBN 978-1-5261-6298-4.
  22. ^ a b Klose, Fabian (31 May 2013). Human Rights in the Shadow of Colonial Violence: The Wars of Independence in Kenya and Algeria. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 178. ISBN 978-0-8122-4495-3.
  23. ^ The Crisis. The Crisis Publishing Company, Inc. May 1954. p. 273.
  24. ^ Macharia, Munene (16 March 2015). Historical Reflections on Kenya: Intellectual Adventurism, Politics and International Relations. University of Nairobi Press. p. 93. ISBN 978-9966-792-13-6.
  25. ^ Murphy, Philip. "Lyttelton, Oliver, first Viscount Chandos (1893–1972)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/31385. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  26. ^ "Auckland Museum - Collections Online". api.aucklandmuseum.com.
  27. ^ Duffy, Aoife (2015). "Legacies of British Colonial Violence: Viewing Kenyan Detention Camps through the Hanslope Disclosure". Law and History Review. 33 (3): 530. doi:10.1017/S0738248015000267. ISSN 0738-2480. JSTOR 43670796. S2CID 151553352.
  28. ^ "Hola Detention Camp (Hansard, 16 June 1959)". api.parliament.uk.
  29. ^ Hilliker, John; Barry, Donald (1990). Canada's Department of External Affairs: Coming of age, 1946-1968. McGill-Queen's Press - MQUP. p. 102. ISBN 978-0-7735-0752-4.
  30. ^ Starnes, John (1998). Closely Guarded: A Life in Canadian Security and Intelligence. University of Toronto Press. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-8020-0975-3.
  31. ^ Edwards, Aaron (28 February 2018). Defending the realm?: The politics of Britain's small wars since 1945. Manchester University Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-5261-2995-6.
  32. ^ "Kenya police start fund for gaoled chief". Northern Whig. 13 December 1954. p. 1.
  33. ^ French, David (29 September 2011). The British Way in Counter-Insurgency, 1945-1967. OUP Oxford. p. 113. ISBN 978-0-19-161859-8.
  34. ^ Beckett, Ian Frederick William (2001). Modern Insurgencies and Counter-insurgencies: Guerrillas and Their Opponents Since 1750. Psychology Press. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-415-23934-9.
  35. ^ Carver, Michael (1989). Out of Step: Memoirs of a Field Marshal. Hutchinson. p. 262. ISBN 978-0-09-173985-0.
  36. ^ Kelly's (1961). Kelly's Handbook to the Titled, Landed and Official Classes. Kelly's Directories. p. 2091.
  37. ^ Bailey, Thomas Peter (2022). Anglicanism, the Mau Mau Conflict, and Decolonisation in Kenya, 1952–1963. www.repository.cam.ac.uk (Thesis). University of Cambridge. pp. 181–182. doi:10.17863/CAM.86052.
  38. ^ Hughes, Matthew (8 April 2016). British Ways of Counter-insurgency: A Historical Perspective. Routledge. p. 104. ISBN 978-1-134-92045-7.
  39. ^ Buchanan, Tom (30 April 2020). Amnesty International and Human Rights Activism in Postwar Britain, 1945–1977. Cambridge University Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-107-12751-7.
  40. ^ Bailey, Thomas Peter (2022). Anglicanism, the Mau Mau Conflict, and Decolonisation in Kenya, 1952–1963. www.repository.cam.ac.uk (Thesis). University of Cambridge. p. 151. doi:10.17863/CAM.86052.
  41. ^ "Resignation Of Colonel Young". hansard.parliament.uk.
  42. ^ Bailey, Thomas Peter (2022). Anglicanism, the Mau Mau Conflict, and Decolonisation in Kenya, 1952–1963. www.repository.cam.ac.uk (Thesis). University of Cambridge. pp. 184–185. doi:10.17863/CAM.86052.
  43. ^ Buchanan, Tom (30 April 2020). Amnesty International and Human Rights Activism in Postwar Britain, 1945–1977. Cambridge University Press. p. 66. ISBN 978-1-107-12751-7.
  44. ^ Gray, Alan (1955). "Quarterly Chronicle". African Affairs. 54 (215): 84. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.afraf.a094331. ISSN 0001-9909. JSTOR 718152.
  45. ^ "The Situation In Kenya". hansard.parliament.uk.
  46. ^ a b "Colonial Affairs (Hansard, 16 March 1955)". api.parliament.uk.
  47. ^ Matchett, William Roy (2015). "Security: Missing from the Northern Ireland Model". Democracy and Security. 11 (1): 13. doi:10.1080/17419166.2015.1004663. ISSN 1741-9166. JSTOR 48602356. S2CID 143196904.
  48. ^ Fido, Martin (2000). The official encyclopedia of Scotland Yard (Rev. and updated ed.). London: Virgin. p. 450. ISBN 9780753505151.
  49. ^ "Death of Mrs. I. Young". Hampshire Telegraph. 21 September 1956. p. 11.
  50. ^ "No. 39421". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 1951. p. 34.
  51. ^ "No. 39863". The London Gazette (Supplement). 26 May 1953. p. 2945.
  52. ^ "No. 42683". The London Gazette (Supplement). 25 May 1962. p. 4311.
  53. ^ "No. 43667". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 June 1965. p. 5471.
  54. ^ "No. 43819". The London Gazette. 19 November 1965. p. 10841.
  55. ^ "No. 45262". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1970. p. 7.
  56. ^ L'Harmattan web site (in French)

External links[edit]

Police appointments
Preceded by Chief Constable of Leamington Spa
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Senior Assistant Chief Constable of Birmingham
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chief Constable of Hertfordshire
Succeeded by
Preceded by Assistant Commissioner "D", Metropolitan Police
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commissioner of the City of London Police
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Anthony Peacock
Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary
Succeeded by