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Chief Constable Percy Sillitoe, 1888-1962

Mitchell Library, Glasgow Collection

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Keywords: Billy Boys, chief constables, corruption, crime, diced caps, fingerprints, gangs, magistrates, Norman Conks, police officers, policenmen, Sillitoe tartan, violence

Sir Percy Sillitoe (1888-1962) Chief Constable of Glasgow, 1931-1943.

Sillitoe was appointed to the post on the strength of his reputation as Chief Constable of Sheffield. He transformed the police force in Glasgow, reorganising it into seven divisions and closing thirteen police stations. Civilians were employed to run police support services, with new departments set up to handle fingerprints and photographs. Radio communication was established between police vehicles and headquarters. Compulsory retirement was introduced for those with thirty years service.

Another of Sillitoe's innovations was the distinctive black and white diced cap bands, which became known as the "Sillitoe Tartan". He also tackled corruption among Glasgow bailies, resulting in jail sentences for five magistrates.

Sillitoe is best remembered as the man who cracked down on Glasgow's gang culture. Gangs such as the Billy Boys and the Norman Conks terrorised some inner city areas in the 1930s. Given a licence by Sillitoe to be harder than the hard men, the police regularly ambushed the gangs and jailed their leaders.

Reference: Mitchell Library, GC 363.20924 SIL

Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Libraries Information and Learning



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