Getting to Know You: The launch of the South Wales Police magazine in 1970

Following the launch of the new South Wales Constabulary on 1 June 1969, the Chief Constable, Melbourne Thomas, was keen to foster activities, including the production of a magazine, that would begin to knit together the four police forces drawn together by the amalgamation. In his first annual report Thomas had noted:

Without doubt the development of the magazine will assist in encouraging a greater sprit and a better understanding between all Officers of the Force. (DSWP/16/2)

Cover

The production of a magazine for the new force was entrusted to Assistant Chief Constable, E R Baker. Simply styled the ‘South Wales Police Magazine’ the trial edition, in pocket book size and 40 pages in length, appeared early in 1970. From the outset Baker wanted the magazine to have a ‘family feel’, detailing not only what was happening in the force, such as promotions and retirements, but also including news of engagements, marriages and family sports and exam successes.  All 7 divisions plus Traffic, Headquarters and the Criminal Record Office were commissioned to provide contributions.

The ‘divisional correspondents’ all chipped in and helped to establish the style, informative but with a light touch, that ran through early editions. Here are just a couple of clips from an update on developments in the Traffic Division for the trial edition.

Reports have been received at this office from agitated motorists on the A48 Trunk Road, complaining that the traffic is moving more freely and safely owing to the fact that [two] Police Constables …are no longer interrupting the flow of traffic. It would appear that the gain of the motorists on the A48 is the loss of the students of the Police Driving Academy where the two officers are performing duty.

In August 1969 [the son of a Police Constable] was awarded first prize as the ‘Bonniest Baby’ at Butlin’s Holiday camp Minehead. There was a considerable amount of disagreement amongst the judges when they could not decide just who was the bonniest – father or son!

(South Wales Police Magazine Preliminary Issue – DSWP/52/1)

The gauntlet had well and truly been thrown down. The magazine was the place to go not only for the serious business of promotions and retirements but also for the lighter developments across the broad family of the South Wales Constabulary. As a result, the second edition, issued in the autumn of 1970, ran to a bumper 96 pages. Just about every division included both staff and family news and a series of anecdotes and stories.

The magazine now contained cartoons, poems, sports reports, a quiz, a crossword, book reviews and, echoing the family feel, a children’s story corner. Also every edition contained a mix of lengthy articles often chronicling the comical mishaps of colleagues and other ‘tall stories’. Here are two of the shorter contributions.

One evening a police Landrover went to the assistance of a member of the public whose car, boat and trailer had stuck in the sea at the river mouth at Ogmore by Sea. In the course of the recovery the police Landrover got into difficulties and, because of the fast incoming tide, the crew members had to ‘abandon ship’. The Landrover was eventually covered by water and before ‘going down’ the blue flashing lamp started to rotate as a sign of defiance. The vehicle was recovered next day and it is understood that members of the Central Traffic Sector partook of a meal of fish which had been trapped in the vehicle when it was high and dry.

(South Wales Police Magazine, Autumn 1970, DSWP/52/1)

Headed ‘Getting to know you’, there was also a story of a young PC napping with his head bowed on his chest in the inner recesses of a shop doorway late one evening. Hearing his Sergeant approaching, at the last minute he clasped his hands across his chest and said:

And please watch over all those who are on duty this night and forever and ever, Amen.

(South Wales Police Magazine, Autumn 1970, DSWP/52/1)

It is perhaps a positive sign that every edition had an extensive range of advertising dominated by local companies from across the Constabulary’s patch. However, the real sign of success was the extent to which the magazine could look back on, and smile at, the trials and tribulations experienced during the amalgamation. The Autumn 1970 edition included a poem and two articles on the amalgamation, including this extract from a skit on the lengthy debates that surrounded the agreeing of common paperwork and systems across the four forces. In this case, a form for resignations.

The meeting also decided to re-design Form Resig/Amalg/1/Ops … for the use of Admin Superintendents. Undoubtedly there would be a further meeting to decide who signed at the left, the middle and on the right – but that was something that could wait until tomorrow. “You know …I can never understand why a clever young fellow wants to resign anyway.” “Not enough to do, I suppose,” agreed his colleagues as they left through their personal doors.

(South Wales Police Magazine, Autumn 1970, DSWP/52/1)

The final test was the first clue in the crossword – 1 across:

Effective from 1st June 1969 – three words with 5, 5 and 12 letters.

Hopefully, by the autumn of 1970 all members of the force would have solved this in seconds. But, if you are struggling, the answer lies in para 1 of this article.

Tony Peters, Glamorgan Archives Volunteer

Copies of the first three editions of the South Wales Police Magazine for 1970 can be found at the Glamorgan Archives, reference DSWP/52/1.

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One thought on “Getting to Know You: The launch of the South Wales Police magazine in 1970

  1. Getting to Know You: The launch of the South Wales Police magazine in 1970 - Glamorgan Archives

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