Film ID:
YFA 4530



Visitor Tabs


This film is a tremendous documentation of the West Yorkshire Metropolitan Police’s recruiting process in 1940. As a complete account of the procedures, the filmmaker captures the initial application stage, and continues right the way through the training process to the final inspection by the Chief Constable.

Title – The police constable may well be called “The man in the street”.
Title – Because he is recruited from every walk of life.

The film opens with several shots of different people going about their lives; the first shot shows a woman walking down a street, the next few show workers in different industrial-type vocations - they work with machinery and on building sites - another shot shows a man working a more white collar job at a desk.

Title – Letters from applicants are sorted from the mail at the headquarters.

Several officers sort through piles of letters, which are then placed in a tray and then taken from room by another officer.

Title – These are scrutinised by Chief Superintendent & Chief Clerk H. Steel who forwards an application form, with details and conditions of service.

Applications are brought to the Chief Superintendent who, sitting at a desk and wearing a suit, looks through the documents. There is then a close up of a document which has the conditions of service printed on it, and a header above reads ‘West Riding of Yorkshire Constabulary conditions of service’. More close ups of the document show that there are age restrictions and training requirements.

Title – These forms, when properly filled in by the applicant now come before Assistant Chief Constable W. Blacker, who considers each on its merits.

The applications are then brought into a new officer, where the Assistant chief constable sits at a desk. A close up shows an application; the candidates name is visible: ‘George Henry’, and there are a series of questions to which the applicant has written ‘No, No, No, Yes’. The assistant chief studies the papers before signing one and folding it away.

Title – A day is fixed for interviewing applicants.

Applicants predominantly dressed in trench coats and trilbies walk through a courtyard and each man carries a briefcase.

Title – Height, sight, and physical condition are first considerations.

The applicants remove their coats, wrist watches, and shirts, before being assessed in terms of height, weight and build by an officer, who measures the chest size and height of an applicant.

Title – Then the written examinations.

Applicants in suits and shirts sit in rows of desks completing their examinations, while an officer keeps watch from the front of the class.

Title – Entrants who successfully pass these tests are now personally interviewed by acting Superintendent D. Ingham.

The superintendent sits at desk and ushers an interviewee over. They then briefly discuss his examination results, before he leaves and the next applicant enters. The superintendent then hands the applicant a newspaper and a close up of the paper shows a headline in the Yorkshire Post that reads ‘Government changes’. Once the interviewee has read the paper, he hands it back to the superintendent and exits the room.

Title – On parade for the first time. The Sergeant instructor inspects his raw material.

In a courtyard, a large group of male recruits, mostly wearing suits and flat caps, form organised rows in front of the Sergeant.

Title – Physical training plays a great part in the young recruit’s career.

The recruits in dark shorts and T-shirts jog around a field, before stopping and performing calisthenics, which is led by an officer.

Title – Britain need not despair while she produces such splendid specimens of manhood.

More shots capture the work out, as the disciplined recruits perform stretches, push ups, forward rolls and other manoeuvres in a synchronised fashion. This sequence is also interspersed with several shots that show the instructor talking with a senior official, who wears a grey suit and trilby.

Title – Training in Life-Saving commences with land drill.

In a courtyard, the recruits stand in formation and proceed to repeat several drills, most of which involve grappling another recruit before thrusting him away.

Title – Ever facility to become efficient is provided at the swimming baths.

Recruits, wearing swimming trucks, clutch the edge of a pool in a line and kick with their legs to stay afloat, while an instructor walks along the ledge of the pool.

Title – Phases in life saving exercise.

The officers then practices carrying each other through the water.

Title – Retrieving an object from the bottom of the baths.

Various shots capture recruits diving under surface to collect objects from the pools floor. Next, on the instructors command the recruits dive into the water and swim into the middle.

Title – After about four weeks they are measured for their uniforms.

In a room inside the training facility, recruits are filmed being measure by a tailor, who gives the details to a man - writing the details down on a notepad - while a long line of recruits can be seen waiting in the doorway. The next few shots show the uniforms being hand stitched and steam pressed.

Title – Now they begin to look like the genuine article.

A recruit stands proudly before the tailor in his new uniform, and in the next shot he is shown receiving his constable hat.

Title – All dressed up and ready for inspection.

From an elevated position the filmmaker captures the new officers in their uniforms standing in formation, as a senior officer inspects the new unit. The officers then remain in formation and brandish their batons, before marching around the courtyard.

Title – “Only the best food will do for the Constabulary”, says Sergt. Walton.

A man stands at a stove and places a piece of fish into a pot of boiling oil. The filmmaker then captures the kitchen, where several cooks and serving staff are preparing the constables meal, laying out fresh bread and jugs. The next sequence shows the officers eating the battered fish and bread at various tables in the canteen, and a close up captures one constable smiling as he takes a bite from a piece of bread. Shots then capture the food in more detail; some of the dishes appear to be meatballs. Officers then walk past the tables carrying their trays, and a senior officer speaks to one of the constables who is enjoying his meal.

Title – And while one meal is being cleared away, the next is being prepared.

Male chefs are filmed preparing some more food, while female kitchen staff, wearing aprons, scrub and dry dishes.

Title – Prevention of street accidents is the subject of special lectures.

In a classroom, the constable trainees sit at school desks and scribble notes on paper with pencils, as a senior officer outlines certain procedures using a chalk diagram on a blackboard.

Title – Followed by practise in traffic control.

In a courtyard, the officers stand in formation and copy the hand signals made by the instructor. The instructor occasionally moves through the ranks adjusting any incorrect hand positions.

Title – The “Come on” signal.

The instructor shows the - Come on - signal, which involves a sweeping hand gesture that signal the parties intended direction. The recruits practice this command several times, each time following the instructor. Role play is then brought in the equation, as officers stand in front of the group directing each other.

Title – Reporting upon all kinds of events is another part of police instruction.

Title – Here Serg. Roberts demonstrates procedure in a case of sudden death.

A man pretends to lie dead on a couch. A senior instructor then addresses the trainees, who take out note pads and begin to scribble notes.

Title – Prevent interference with body, but test for signs of life.

The instructor shows the correct ways to check the body’s pulse, while the trainees watch.

Title – Next notify the police surgeon...

The instructor walks over to the telephone and dials; the trainees pause from note taking to watch with interest.

Title – Then the police office...

The instructor makes another call.

Title – Whist indications showing cause of death…

The officer points to a gun in the dead man’s hand, before taking down a note. He then points to an over turned chair, and there is then a close up of a still smoking cigarette in an ash tray.

Title – Position of finger outside the trigger guard, fallen chair, and cigarette still burning, are opposed to a theory of suicide.

The instructor then points to a newspaper on the couch beside the dead body.

Title – Position of paper suggests victim was attacked while reading.

The trainees take notes.

Title – Every detail must be carefully noted down.

The trainees file out of the room and the man playing the dead man rises and gives a wry smile at the camera.

Title – A.R.P. instruction includes an Anti-Gas course and respirator drill.

On a grassy area, the trainee constables stand around wearing gas masks and small huts are visible in the background.

Title – Entering the gas chamber containing tear gas.

The trainees - still wearing gas masks - enter a gas chamber that has a canvas protective cover. The next shot shows them emerging from the other side of the chamber.

Title – Now a brief visit without a respirator.

The recruits - without gasmasks - are ushered into the gas chamber via the canvas opening.

Title – And a swift return – smiling through their tears.

Several groups of trainees pass the camera; most smile broadly.

Title – All work and now play would be a dull business...

The trainees gather around a man playing the piano and play darts.

Title – And so to bed.

The officers run up a stairwell and entering their dorms, where a man is filmed making his bed. The filmmaker then captures a close up of a man sleeping.

Title – "Dreaming of thee my love I be".
Title – Pay-Day parade.

The officers stand in the courtyard, before being dismissed and heading back inside the premises.

Title – And once again Chief Clerk H. Steel deserves - and gets - their thanks.

The constable’s wages are laid out on a counter, and the Chief Clerk hands the money to each constable as they approach the desk and salute.

Title – Every recruit now looks forward to the great event - Inspection and march past before the chief constable.

The officers are captured in the courtyard from various different angles by the filmmaker.

Title – Chief constable G.C. Vaughan arrives on the parade ground.

The chief constable is saluted by senior officers, while the constables hold formation in the background. The chief constable then inspects the two rows of officers, occasionally stopping to take a closer look.

Title – From civilian to trained constable in 10 weeks.

The constables march around the courtyard in tight formation, and pass the chief constable who watches from a raised platform. The constables then come to a halt and a shot captures the chief constable making a speech.

Title – The march past.

The officers slowly march past the chief constable and form a square around the platform. The Chief Constable then makes a speech.

Title – Praise from the Chief "a creditable performance".

The final shot of this film captures the Chief Constable mid speech.

Title – And now Duty calls - Carry on.