Agricultural labourers

A different role for police officers

Paul Watts

Manpower shortage in Hertfordshire Constabulary

I suspect that the following is a little known fact but nevertheless a very interesting insight into life in 1917. At the height of World War One Hertfordshire Constabulary was already suffering due to a manpower shortage. The Standing Joint Committee had established a minimum strength and no more officers were permitted to join the Armed Forces unless they were replaced by an officer who was released by the Military. Meanwhile officers due to retire and some who had already recently retired were compulsorily retained or recalled to the Force. However, as the following General Order makes clear the Police were not alone in suffering a shortage of men. Farmers were obviously struggling to run their farms and the shortage of Agricultural Labourers was deemed to be so serious that 15 Constables who had an agricultural working background were made available to local Hertfordshire farmers for up to 6 weeks. The Order stipulates who they were and under what circumstances their services could be called upon. There is no record of how many in fact were used by local farmers but the fact that the Constabulary went to the trouble of identifying suitable officers means that in all probability they were.

General Order 27/1917                                                                                                                                                           Orders By Superintendent William Wood                                                                                                                           Deputy Chief Constable of Hertfordshire

Constabulary Headquarters Hatfield 4th April 1917

Agricultural Labour

At a meeting of the Standing Joint Committee on 23rd March 1917, it was resolved that a leave of absence for a period not exceeding six weeks should be granted to certain members of the Hertford County Constabulary used to agricultural work and whose services are urgently required by farmers.

The conditions on which the leave of absence is granted, are:-

  1. That the men are employed within the limits of, or within easy distance of their stations.
  2. That the men should be available for return to police duty at any time if required.
  3. That each employer shall pay direct to the Chief Constable the sum of 25/= per week, for the services of each police constable.

In accordance with this resolution, the following police constables will be granted leave of absence if their services are required under the conditions set forth. Superintendents are authorised are authorised to arrange with farmers to release the men on and from Monday next 9th April 1917.

No.    Rank and No. Name         Division       Station

1        PC 141 Mason F.                B                 Bishops Stortford                                                                                              2        PC 100 Cade R.J.                B                 Bishops Stortford                                                                                                      3        PC 176 Hart G.                   B                 Brent Pelham                                                                                                    4        PC 253 Spencer H.            B                 Much Hadham                                                                                                        5        PC 99 Barber I.                   B                 Eastwick                                                                                                                    6        PC 114 Davis F.                  B                 Sawbridgeworth                                                                                                7        PC 128 Manning J.             C                 West Hyde                                                                                                          8        PC 140 Badcock H.A.         E                 Ashwell                                                                                                                    9        PC 210 Gray F.                    E                 Datchworth                                                                                                       10      PC 55 Harrowell S.J.         E                  Stevenage                                                                                                         11      PC 74 Knights G.               E                  Little Munden                                                                                                   12      PC 89 Wallduck F.             E                  Hinxworth                                                                                                         13      PC 160 Milton R.               F                  Waterford                                                                                                           14      PC 149 Maltby W.H.         G                 Wheathampstead                                                                                            15      PC 198 Freeman A.           G                 Newgate Street

Each Constable will receive whilst engaged on agricultural work – full wages and allowances from police funds, plus one-half the weekly amount paid as wages by the farmer by whom he is employed. Immediately arrangements have been completed for a man to undertake agricultural work, a report will be submitted to this office, showing:-     Name and address of employer.                                                                                                                                               Date when the Constable will commence the work.                                                                                                             Also that the employer understands clearly the conditions upon which the man has been loaned.

W. Wood                                                                                                                                                                            Superintendent                                                                                                                                                                        Deputy Chief Constable of Herts.


This page was added on 20/04/2016.

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