Celebrating 50 years of Sussex Police: 1968-2018

Delve into our past as we take you on a journey through some of our history over the last 50 years and beyond.

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Patrol March 1979: West's first bike and rider both doing well

With the Force Public Relations Department and Traffic Division scouring the county and elsewhere for police vehicles from the past came the news that the man who was the first motorcycle patrol in West Sussex was alive and well.

And not only that ex-Sgt Bill 'Tiny' Dear was to give a talk on his early experiences to the Force Motor Cycle Club. For Bill has a fund of stories, as PATROL discovered during an interview with him at his home in Worthing.

A bonus to the interview was the discovery that Bill's first exclusively operational machine was also still on the road lovingly restored and maintained by an enthusiast in the Midlands.
Tiny Dear - he stands 6ft 4in. tall - joined the West Sussex Constabulary on New Year's Eve, 1923. He had learned to ride a motorcycle in 1919 while serving in Germany with the Sussex Yeomanry.

'I took my own bike with me when I joined the Force,' said Bill. 'It was a belt-driven Douglas I'd bought for £40 in Portsmouth. All they had in the Force was an old motor-cycle combination which I used to use as transport for the Superintendent.'

Penny a mile

Bill was soon posted to Worthing and he was asked to use his own bike on duty, for which he was paid a penny a mile.

'Having my own transport meant I got copped for all the jobs,' Bill recalled. 'They used to call me the mobile unit, and I was forever flying about, dealing with an accident here, a suicide there...'

There wasn't a great deal of traffic on the roads in those days and the speed limit through Findon was a head swimming 10mph. 'For a speed trap, a Sergeant and myself used a white handkerchief and a stop-watch.'

But as the Roaring Twenties progressed, traffic became thicker and faster. By 1926, barely two years after joining the Force, Bill felt the need for a machine more suited to a job that was developing every day. So he went to the Motorcycle Show at Olympia.

On the Brough stand he got talking to 'a little chap' who offered enough sound advice to convince Bill that a Brough Superior SS80 was the machine he needed. The 'little chap' was T. E. Lawrence - Lawrence of Arabia.

Bill bought his bike from another famous pre-war figure - the legendary and flamboyant George Brough himself, a man who was to remain a friend for years to come.

The days of stop-watch and white hankie were over for good. Astride his Brough Superior - registered number TV 2416 - Bill was able to follow motorists and riders, checking their progress against his own speedometer. The age of the traffic cop had arrived.

Another duty fell on Bill's shoulders - providing the motorcycle escort whenever royalty visited the county.

The years went by - years charted by such names as Sunbeam, Matchless, Enfield, A.J.S., J.A.P. - and Bill moved on to cars. Austin Chummy, Riley, M.G. Roadster, Wolseley...

Bill retired as a Sergeant in 1955, and settled into a new lifestyle. Then one day in 1977 he received a telephone call from a Mr. L. F. Sanger. Had he, the caller wanted to know, ever owned a Brough Superior motorcycle, index number TV 2416?

Mr. Sanger explained that he found it in an old garage and had restored it. He was entering it for the Historic Vehicles Silver Jubilee Tribute at Windsor and Ascot. Perhaps Bill would care to come along.

Bill went. 'It was odd to see the old bike there among all those historic vehicles,' he said. 'And even odder to sit on the very machine on which I'd covered so many miles back in the old days.'

Times have changed. Dual carriageways and motorways have covered yesteryear's lanes and byways. B.M.W.s and Moto- Guzzis do the work of the Broughs and Sunbeams. Muni-Quip, Truvelo and VASCAR have replaced the hankie and stopwatch.

But 78-year-old Bill Dear is still on the road, alert and active as ever driving a Mazda saloon, as like as not to take part in another match in his favourite pastime, bowls.

New technology motorcycles for the force

Two new motorcycles, Norton Interpol 2s service by the motor-cycle teams at Chichester and Brighton

They are conducting in-service evaluation for three months after which they will be transferred to the other two teams based at Hastings and Haywards Heath.

This is for long-term evaluation in all areas of the Force and with a maximum number of officers.

The Chief Constable, in his quarterly report to the Police Authority, said that it may be possible to consider, once again, purchasing British manufactured motor-cycle for traffic patrol purposes.

Behind this statement lie years of testing by Norton Motors (1978) Limited, who have designed, built, and tested a completely new type of motor-cycle specially for police use.

The prototype evaluation and proving was conducted by Norton in conjunction with the West Midlands Police.

One factory vehicle has covered 68,000 miles on road test and another machine regularly used on traffic patrol by the West Midlands police has covered 17,000 miles. The manufacturer claim a life expectancy for the new vehicles in excess of 100,000 miles.

New concept

There are many interesting design points in this new concept machine;

  • The engine is a twin chambered air cooled Wankel design of 588cc capacity generating 82 brake horsepower at 9000 r.p.m.
  • The five-speed gearbox drives the rear wheel via a chain running through a totally enclosed chain case with its own integral sealed oil bath.
  • The braking system comprises twin front discs and a single rear disc, all of stainless steel with Textar all weather brake pads.
  • The ignition system is of the Capacitor Discharge Type with a variable resistance electromagnetic pulse generator ignition trigger unit.

The cost of these new machines is about £3,400 fully equipped for police use. This is slightly higher than the cost of the Moto Guzzis currently in use but considerable savings are envisaged - the replacement mileage for Moto-Guzzis is 40,000.

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Patrol article November 1973: increased horse power for Traffic Division

Some surprise has been expressed at the announcement that the Force Mounted Section has become a unit of the Traffic Division. It is not intended, as some might suppose, to be an answer to the threatened possibility of shortage of motor fuel.

It is the Chief Constable's decision that the former mounted section, divided between Eastbourne and Brighton, should be replaced by a single section, offering a service to the Force area as a whole, and as the Traffic Chief Superintendent is the only Divisional Commander with county wide responsibility, it is logical that he should have the task of administering and supervising the new section, with its broader area of activity.

There is no intention of depriving the people of Eastbourne and Brighton of the sight of mounted policemen performing duty in their areas, but the new system will facilitate such activities taking place not only in those two towns, but also in any part of Sussex where the horses can be used with advantage.

The Mounted Section will comprise, in the first instance, police horse Roland and a new horse named Justin. Their riders will be Constables Peter Sheppard and Donald Austin, who have already performed duty with the Brighton based horse, and Constable Jack Williams from Eastbourne, who was a familiar figure, popularly known as the 'Downs Ranger.'

It is hoped that mounted policemen will become a familiar sight over a much wider area of Sussex, and Divisional officers are being encouraged to make the maximum use of their services in appropriate circumstances.

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Patrol article November 1971: Keeping them on the roads

Behind the blue sliding doors, two floors below street level at Brighton Police Station is one of the vital departments in any efficient police force - the Vehicle Workshops.

The ultimate in radio communications, and highly trained traffic patrol drivers are rendered useless if the traffic cars, panda cars or motorcycles are unreliable and break down before reaching an emergency call.

To keep the fleet of some 600 vehicles in tip top condition is the responsibility of the Fleet Service Engineer and the Vehicle Workshops. The number of workshops is being reduced, but they are to be better equipped.

At Brighton the Workshops have been redesigned and reequipped over the last six months, but the ideas and plans have been formulating for a number of years.


For a start there is now 100 per cent, more floor space and it is possible to work on 12 vehicles at a time without having to move another vehicle for access. The former workshops had just one free wheel suspension lift but now there are four, two of these having been constructed over the former pits.

All benches and sundry equipment have been moved out of the main workshop into what is now known as the Machine Shop. In this room fitters work on motor-cycles, simple soldering jobs are done, as is tyre changing and wheel balancing.

In addition there is a store room, rest room and reception office.

An average of 188 services are completed each month, which is about seven cars a day on routine services and the rest made up of unexpected defects and major overhauls. One hundred and fifty eight vehicles are serviced once a month and 20 traffic cars are serviced twice a month.

When the full potential of the workshops is reached some 230 services will be completed each month, with a staff of nine fitters, one chargehand, a supervisory Police Sergeant and Police Constable.

The Brighton Workshops are primarily concerned with the vehicles of T.4 and T.6, but their catchment area extends to Lewes, Haywards Heath, Newhaven and Seaford.

All the vehicles in the central area are maintained in Brighton but at the moment only about half the vehicles from the outer areas are involved. One of the fitters lives in Burgess Hill and another in Seaford and in each case they collect and return the vehicles to their local police stations.

Economy of time and effort were the watchwords for the new Workshop design team, and this applied not only to the floor organization but also to the purchasing of new equipment.

The most comprehensive pieces of equipment are yet to arrive. They are a Dynamometer and Brake Tester, which simulate in the Vehicle Workshop any road situation. Various acceleration loads, braking situations and speeds up to 150 m.p.h. will be possible, and this will be an advance in engine tuning and developing work.

It will also be possible to accurately calibrate speedometers on Traffic Patrol Cars in the Workshops.


But already there is a Sun 720 Electronic Engine Tester which when read with mechanical knowledge completely diagnoses engine defects. This machine has proved itself time and time again, but particularly in solving the carburation problem experienced with the Lotus Cortinas. All the fitters have been trained to use this machine.

The main lubrication bay has hose reels for grease, engine oils, gear oils, and oil spraying, which pumps oil direct into the sump, eliminating contamination and the handling of numerous small tins.

Another useful piece of equipment is a sump oil extractor. Sump oil is emptied into portable carriers at the maintenance bays which are then taken to a pump fixed to one of the outside walls. The oil is then pumped away into a storage tank outside.


The Workshops have their own ventilation system and a special extractor which fits over single and double exhaust pipes.

The small Workshop at Hove Police Station is also part of the Brighton set-up and the two work in close co-operation. 'It is important to remember that these are one of the Force workshops, and are not there just for the local divisions,' Sergeant Rummery told PATROL. 'Any Force vehicle in difficulties is welcome.'

But apart from the servicing of police vehicles the Workshops are also involved in some experimental work. For example, at the present time they are working on ways of electrically operating the 'Police-Stop' sign used in plain patrol cars, and mounting lamps on a tripod so that they can be operated at every conceivable angle.

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Patrol January 1992: Thanks for the 'copter and Santa's sleigh

A weary Father Christmas' rang Sussex Police on Christmas Eve to say thank you.

A father in Hove had spent ages trying to get his over excited son to bed, but to no avail.

That was until the police helicopter was called out to help search for two intruders who were disturbed in a nearby house.

Officers received two telephone calls - one from a resident complaining about the noise, the other from the boy's father to day thank you. His son had jumped unto bed web he heard the helicopter, thinking it was Santa's sleigh!


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