WORLD-OBITS-L ArchivesArchiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2006-04 > 1146396841
From: "Peter_McCrae" <>
Subject: OSMOND: Douglas Osmond--d.20/4/2006>UK
Date: Sun, 30 Apr 2006 12:34:01 +0100
Sir Douglas Osmond
The Daily Telegraph and the telegraph.co.uk
Sir Douglas Osmond, who has died aged 91, ranked among the foremost leaders
of the British police service during the 1960s and 1970s, and was one of the
country's first career policemen; he became Britain's youngest-ever chief
constable and was an early advocate of the modern concept of crime
As chief constable of Shropshire and then Hampshire, Osmond was a clever,
thoughtful and creative leader who enjoyed an excellent rapport with the men
and women under his command. He wrought a reputation as a chief who would
stand by his subordinates through thick and thin, and this earned him
unswerving loyalty in return.
Before Osmond's time, chief constables tended to be recruited direct from
the military and were sometimes little more than placemen who regarded their
forces as private fiefdoms. Though Osmond was promoted rapidly through the
ranks, short-circuiting the usual CID route to senior level, his impressive
intellect and attention to detail ensured he kept a firm professional grip
as policing culture changed dramatically during his 31 years at the helm.
Douglas Osmond was born on June 27 1914 in Bournemouth. His father, an
engineer, was killed in action at sea in the First World War, and he and his
elder brother Bill were brought up by their mother, who became a
schoolteacher in order to earn money to support them. Educated at
Bournemouth schools, in 1932 Osmond won a Kitchener Scholarship to
University College, London, where he read Mathematics.
In 1935 he decided to join the police, taking advantage of a "fast-track"
scheme at the newly-established police college at Hendon to bring on bright
college graduates; he joined the Metropolitan Police as a beat constable
stationed at Tottenham Court Road and was quickly promoted to the rank of
In 1943, as the tide of war turned, Douglas Osmond joined the Royal Navy. As
well as his regular training, he lectured on navigation at the Greenwich
Naval College, drawing on his expertise in astronomy and navigation learned
during his university mathematics course, and noted that he had taught six
future admirals to navigate. In 1944 he was released from the Navy and
seconded to the British Control Commission for Germany to help with the
projected post-war reorganisation of the German police.
Osmond returned to Britain in 1945 to resume his police career, and the
following year was appointed chief constable of Shropshire, the youngest in
the history of the British police, at the age of 32.
It was a small rural force, but Osmond quickly made his mark on the welfare
of his country coppers, recognising the inadequate provision of police
housing in the county and successfully campaigning for improvements with the
backing of the local watch committee.
Operationally, he launched an initiative that crystallised for the first
time the modern concept of crime prevention: he personally designed a poster
campaign to combat Christmas poultry thieves, with the (then) revolutionary
device of a cartoon 999 figure, complete with helmet, truncheon and boots.
He also penned the copy in verse: "Christmas is coming, / The geese are
getting fat, / Don't you think the Wide Boys / Are well aware of that?"
In 1962, Osmond left Shropshire to take up a much bigger job as chief
constable of Hampshire, with 4,000 officers under his command. He presided
over an era of unprecedented expansion for the force. In 1966 a new
headquarters building was opened in Winchester, and a year later the modern
Hampshire Constabulary was formed from the amalgamation of Hampshire,
Southampton and Portsmouth forces, making it the largest non-metropolitan
force in Britain. For two years from 1967 to 1969, Osmond was elected
president of the Association of Chief Police Officers.
In the late 1960s, with Robert Mark, then deputy commissioner of the
Metropolitan Police, Douglas Osmond was sent to Northern Ireland as
consultant to the Royal Ulster Constabulary and to make recommendations on
the future of policing in the province. In a highly critical report, Osmond
concluded that the police had lost the confidence of both Catholics and
Protestants, and said that "given half the chance the RUC turns into an
army, cuts itself off from society and makes no real effort in public
relations". As a result of Osmond's report, in August 1969 the Home
Secretary, Jim Callaghan, was poised to replace the entire RUC command with
senior officers from Britain, though in the event he opted for an advisory
committee on policing, chaired by Lord Hunt.
In February 1972 Douglas Osmond confronted terrorists for the first time
when an IRA car bomb detonated at the 16th Parachute Brigade headquarters in
Aldershot. Seven people, including an Army priest, were killed, in revenge -
the Official IRA claimed - for Bloody Sunday. Osmond was also involved in
arrangements for some high-profile terrorist trials at Winchester, including
that of the Price sisters, convicted of exploding two IRA car bombs in
London in March 1973. He helped organise some of the strictest security in
British legal history for their 10-week trial at Winchester Crown Court. On
the day it ended he was dismayed to find a massive Army presence on the
streets of Winchester as part of a "Red Alert" ordered by the Cabinet
Office; Osmond, it seems, had been kept in ignorance of this decision.
On retirement in 1977 Douglas Osmond became a member of the Royal Commission
on Criminal Procedure, set up that year following the wrongful convictions
in the Maxwell Confait case, and which eventually resulted in the Police and
Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) of 1984.
Osmond, who died on April 20, was appointed OBE in 1958 and advanced to CBE
10 years later. He was awarded the Queen's Police Medal on his move to
Hampshire in 1962, and was appointed deputy lieutenant of Hampshire in 1981.
He became an Officer of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John
of Jerusalem in 1971 and was knighted the same year.
Douglas Osmond married, in 1938, Eve Finnemore. She died in 1995. They had
|OSMOND: Douglas Osmond--d.20/4/2006>UK by "Peter_McCrae" <>|