Glasgow, Scotland: Glasgow Police During World War One

G1 1LG - Glasgow

During the First World War, beat officers in Glasgow Police saw their duties extended. Often they would have to cover two beats to compensate for colleagues who were fighting at the front. They were also called on to guard strategic places such as power stations and railway junctions. Something else the police had to face was the rising problem of youth crime.

“The crime rate for the under sixteens doubled in Glasgow between 1914 and 1917,” explains Alastair Dinsmor of the Glasgow Police Museum. “One of the main reasons for this would be that fathers were away fighting in the forces and mothers were also involved in war work. So youngsters fell into bad company and were caught by the police.”

“One of the punishments available when dealing with young boys was the birch,” says Alastair. “I remember meeting one old policemen years ago who worked with one of the officers who administered this punishment. Apparently he said that he never saw the same backside twice - which gives you an idea of the deterrent value of the birch.”

Glasgow Police Museum also contains the memorial for those policemen who gave their lives in the First World War. “Of the 748 Glasgow Police who went to war, 112 were killed with 33 missing,” Alastair says. “While many did not return, as with other occupations and trades, they acquitted themselves very well and brought credit to the city.”

Image Courtesy of The Glasgow Police Museum

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