Police support of Scouting

Cambridge District Scout Archive

From the beginning the Police were well represented in the Local Association and gave support to the Cambridge Scouts from the highest level. The following is a formal Police encouragement to Officers to become involved. The district involved is not recorded.

The Headquarters Gazette 1911

The local records list involved Chief Constables from both Cambridge City and Cambridgeshire. The dates of the posts overlap. A list is added below. They were often in post for many years but as the two forces were amalgamated and the post moved to shorter terms the connection diminished. The following Chief Constables (CC) have been involved.

It is of note that CC, Chief Constable, and CC, County Commissioner, have also caused confusion in my reading of the archives, not least when they write to each other.

CC C J D Stretton Chief Constable 1916

CC R J Pearson, was a member in the 1920’s.  His address was given as the District Police.

W Varney Webb was Chief Constable of Cambridgeshire.  He became District Scout Secretary in 1925 and Chair from 1927 to 1936.  He is recorded as being involved in Scouting in 1921.

Police Courses had been initiated pre war with the Perse.

B N Bebbington was the Chief Constable and became a member of the Association in 1945 and had been involved in the formation of Scout Training in Police Work.  When he spoke at the 1946 AGM he was greeted with applause.  His topic was a pioneer course in Police work for Scouts and he was very appreciative of the keenness and enthusiasm of the scouts. He wrote an article on the topic for The Scouter in Oct 1946.  When he died his obituary was published in the Cambridge Scout Gazette and he was recalled as ‘a friend of Scouting.’      

The Scouter 1946

1959  B N Bebbington spoke to Cambridge Boy Scouts Association. Reported as ‘Fewer Serious Crimes by Juveniles’ he quoted that in 1894 – 1904 56% of juveniles to young adults were accused of a more serious kind of offence, in recent years it had dropped to 28%.   ‘From my records there are a number of juvenile delinquents who have committed crimes no worse than I have done.’ ‘If we were all honest we would say that at some time in our childhood we have done something that would have brought us within that wonderful term the juvenile delinquent.’  He appealed for GSLs to meet boys when they were in trouble and take them on at that stage.

B N Bebbington was involved in the setting and marking of the ??? Query competion for many years.

1974 Member District Scout Council Chief Superintendent Hotson

1979 V S Gilbert (c/o Chief Constables Office) was a Co-opted Member of the District

2007 Cherry Jam The CC at the time had provided the Security Team with a direct mobile number. Some concern had been raised about trouble from locals excluded from the event.

 Cambridge Archive

1946    The proposed Scout Training was a series of two hour lectures, visits and demonstrations fortnightly, one of which is listed in the District Minutes in April 1946 as Accident Prevention.

1957 A ‘Police Officer’ acted as examiner for the ‘Dispatch Riders badge at the 7th Cambridge Senior Scouts.

It may be co-incidental that the local Magistrates Cinema? Fund donated £50 for the purpose of camping Holidays in the Summer.

A brief review of Sheffield District in the 1950’s identified similar formal support from the Chief Constable, one of whom also acted as County Commissioner.


The Police continue to support organisations that reach out to the marginalised.
They have offered their support to groups that involve Travellers in organised clubs.

In my scouting experience they are willing to interact with the group and if we no longer see Chief Constables actively involved maybe that need has passed.

Full lists of Chief Constables with those involved in bold.

Chief Constable Borough of Cambridge                  City of Cambridge Police

  • Charles Edward Holland        Chief Constable 1894 – 1919
  • R J Pearson                              Chief Constable 1919 – 1943 
  • Bernard N Bebbington         Chief Constable 1944 – 1962/3         

Chief Constable of the County of Cambridge Cambridgeshire Constabulary

  • Charles Stretton                   Chief Constable 1888 – 1915
  •             (A Hargreaves acting)
  • William Varney Webb       Chief Constable 1919 – 1934?      Exec member  1921   
  • W V Smith                               Chief Constable      – 1934
  • W Winter                                Chief Constable      – 1941
  • W H Edwards                         Chief Constable 1941 –

1963 City and County Forces combined                  Mid Anglia Constabulary later Cambridgeshire Constabulary

  • Frederick Drayton Porter    Chief Constable 1963 and 1974– (Co-opted on Cambridgeshire Scout Council)

JWR Archivist Oct 2019