The Royal Navy has always in one way or another had
the need to main order and discipline. At sea, the Captain was the
king's representative, his rule was kept by the First Lieutenant
who was assisted by a person known as thee Ship's Marshals, who was
supported by a number of Ship's Corporals
The M.A.A. was also accountable to the Lieutenant at
Arms for the duties of the Ship's Corporals, the supervision of sentries,
Another duty that the M.A.A performed was at around 9pm to patrol the ship to check that all lanterns and fires were out and that no men were intoxicated. Probably an early form of evening rounds.
The duties of the Ship's Police were promulgated in the 1879 edition of the Queen's Regulations for the Royal Navy but differed little from those laid down a century earlier. In 1879, to indicate his special position the service
The M.A.A. was permitted to wear a frock coat and carry a sword. To be distinguishable from the officers' dress, the coat was to have 4 buttons instead of 5 and the sword was to be plain with a black hilt.
The introduction of the divisional system in 1918 brought about a strong feeling in the Fleet that there would be no requirement for the Ship's Police Branch. This feeling was so strong that branch numbers dwindled. Potential candidates, believing the branch to be moribund, were not forthcoming and the situation became critical. Admiralty Fleet Order 3689 of 21 November 1918 called for the Commanders-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet and Home Ports to ascertain the opinions of their senior Captains on the advisability of continuing the Ship's Police as a branch of the Service.
Seventy-one Flag Officers and senior captains reported their opinions; cleanliness below decks, administration and discipline were the main subjects for argument. The majority view, 59 out of the 71, was that disciplinary and administrative duties required both training and experience. Petty Officers untrained and employed for short periods would cause the ship to be in a constant state of turmoil. Most Captains stressed the need for an experienced M.A.A. who understood the complex of a constantly changing ship's company, very unlike the comparatively rigid Army regimental system. The Captain of HMS CANADA wrote on 4 December 1918:
"Speaking from a seagoing ship's point of view during this war, the Ship's Police have shown their great value in accustoming the Hostility Only Ratings to naval discipline and life".
Rear Admiral H F OLIVER, the Rear Admiral Commanding the First Battle Cruiser Squadron, wrote on 28 November 1918:
"The experienced long service Ship's Police understand the complex system which controls the diverse ratings which are a ship's company and I think we owe them a great deal for the contentment and good discipline prevailing during this war. The Ship's Police deal with the Commander and Captain and nothing serious can happen regards the men without the Commander being aware of it".
A number of senior officers recommended renaming the Ship's Police the Regulating Branch to more clearly reflect its duties on board, which were not seen to be opposed in any way to the new divisional system.
Senior Officers argued that the presence of the Ship's Police undermined the authority of the Petty Officers. They stated that it inculcated the belief that discipline was not of their concern, that administration was a simple routine matter that could be undertaken by anyone and the disciplinary or legal knowledge could be very quickly learned. These officers recommended abolition of the Ship's Police Branch. Admiral BEATTY , the Commander-in-Chief Grand Fleet, submitted to the Admiralty on 15 January 1919:
"Though the principle of Ship's Police duties being carried out by Petty Officers is advocated, it is not considered, under the present changing conditions that the time has yet arrived to abolish the Ship's Police as a branch of the Service. In any case should the change be made, it would have to be carried out very gradually".
The survey resulted in the issue of Admiralty Fleet Order 2290 dated 2 July 1919 which abolished the Ship's Police branch and introduced the Regulating Branch, which was to consist of Masters at Arms and Regulating Petty Officers.
Taking action against a messmate was abhorrent to them, and their dress and bearing left much to be desired.The Shepherd report recommended the introduction of a Leading Patrolman rating to become the junior member of the Regulation Branch and borne primarily for provost duties, and the creation of a Provost organisation to operate within the major naval port areas. The report
concluded, It is impossible to lay too much stress on the imperative
need to ensure that this proposal is launched on a firm footing and
with the correct attitude and ideals from the very outset
As a result of the Shepherd report Regulating Branch training which hitherto had been carried out in the barracks of the main ports was centralised. In 1945, a RN Regulating School was established at Beechwood Camp in Devon to train all regulating ratings and to maintain branch records.
In 1946, the school moved to Fort Wallington near Portsmouth,
then in 1947 to HMS CICERO in Essex,
Then in 1948 to HMS EXCELLENT where it remained until November 2005. Initially, the role of the Leading Patrolman was to augment patrols on shore and assist in regulating duties as necessary. In 1968 Leading Patrolmen were renamed Leading Regulators. The use of the word Police in connection with the Regulating Branch found little appeal or favour amongst senior officers.
This is a photograph of Regulating Petty Officer Richard Hadley Green (known as Jimmy) who joined the RN in 1937 at HMS Ganges as a Boy Seaman 2nd Class. In 1943 he survived the sinking of HMS Hurricane. In 1945 Jimmy joined HMS Drake for transfer to the Regulating Branch, and carried out his training at Beechwood Camp. In April 1945 he was rated Acting Leading Patrolman, and joined HMS Pembroke in Chatham. He was drafted to HMS Golden Hind the RN Barracks Sydney NSW Australia and HMS Tamar in Hong Kong. In September 1946 Jimmy joined HMS Victory for Fort Wallington and then on to HMS Circeo, it is thought it was probably for his RPO's course. He was subsequently rated up in June 1948. Jimmy continued to serve on a number of ships and establishments until he joined HMS Victory for discharge in January 1961. From these records it could be construed that Jimmy was one of the first candidates to pass through the school at Beechwood Camp, and subsequently the other early training Establishments
The association thanks his son Paul Green for this information which has helped to put a bit of a personal touch to our Branch history. Sadly Jimmy Crossed the Bar in April 2008.
The photo above has been sent in by Mike Harris the son of PO K Harris who is sitting in the front row far right. The course must have been one of the first to pass through Fort Wallington, the building walls in the back of the photo resemble those of the Forts on Portsdown Hill. A further coincidence is that in the rear row second from the left you will see the only Regulator on the RPO(Q) Course is Leading Patrolman Richard Green who's photo and small bio you will have read above.
During the 1980's it was considered that the School that was located on the foreshore on the north end of Whale Island had served its purpose and the management of HMS Excellent considered that it would be to the Regulating Branch to have a new home on the Island.
Mansergh the then Captain authorised that De Jersey building on the
southern end of the Island should be the new home of the School the
building having been vacated by the Armourers School.
Initially, the role of the Leading Patrolman
was to augment patrols on shore and assist in regulating duties
as necessary. In 1968 Leading Patrolmen were renamed Leading Regulators.
The use of the word Police in connection with the Regulating Branch
found little appeal or favour amongst senior officers at that time
Regulating Branch ratings were employed on cruisers and above
This change found the Regulator at sea performing many tasks that were alien to them like ensuring a Minor War Vessel (Minesweepers) were fully victualled, especially those on Fishery Protection Duties, in the main these ships were manned by a Regulating Petty Officer.
In Destroyers, Frigates the Master At Arms found that life in these ships were to their liking and being an integral part of a ships company, underpinning the running of the ship as the Whole Ship Coordinator, many also found themselves flight deck officers, acting as helmsman for special sea duties of entering and leaving harbour, when replenishment at sea from a stores ship.
All of which gave those who served in these ship a tremendous job satisfaction
1984 saw the introduction of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and finally in 1990 all Regulators were classed as Service Police. However the term Regulator remained in common use.
Security reviews after Provisional's bombing of the Royal Marines School of Music in Deal resulted in Regulators assimilating security responsibilities for establishments.
Between 1996 and 2000, the Regulating Branch curtailed recruiting. The L. Reg was removed from ships to be replaced by a Writer. For a short time the M.A.A. at sea operated as a singleton. We, as a Branch, were back in the exact same position that we had found ourselves in 1918, a dire situation. However there is a God!
A miracle took place and in a early 1999, the report of the long awaited "Way Ahead Study" rejected the idea of recruiting to the Branch directly at Petty Officer level and recommended retaining the L. Regs. It also rejected some sideways recruiting into the rate of MAA in an attempt to solve the problem of providing enough Senior Regulators.
In the 2003 Naval Strategic Plan
the TOPMAST Squad System was introduced into the Fleet. Those who
were responsible for the way ahead for personnel of the engineering
and subsurface sides of the navy there is no wonder that the M.A.A
was being withdrawn from Destroyers and Frigates and the creation
of the Executive Warrant Officer a position in submarines would
have been known as Chief of the Boat. So the wheel has turned another
circle and history repeating itself resulting in the demise of
the M.A.A. at sea, being withdrawn from Destroyers and Frigates
and replaced by an RPO.
A specialist side of the Regulating Branch - Drug Squads and SIB
The late 1960's brought major changes in the life styles of some of the younger members civilian population who embraced the hippy revolution which carried with it the culture of taking recreational drugs as a way of seeking enjoyment. This was not a practice the Senior Officers of the Naval wished to become prevalent within the navy. A firm line was the order of the day, with a zero tolerance attitude being employed. As with all big organisations this was a policy that was difficult to enforce and maintain.
The MOD(N) authorised the setting up within the Regulating
Branch two specialist sections to attempt to install a responsible
attitude amongst service personnel.
Commander Bob Hopson Hill the Naval Provost Marshal Portsmouth was
charged with setting up the first RN Drugs Squad. A considerable
step forward for the Navy as we did not like the other service police
have a Special Investigations Squad. It is considered therefore that
the navy did not put its head in the sand and pressed ahead unlike
the other service and the first Drug Squad was born within the realms
of the RN Provost HQ Portsmouth under Hopson Hills command.
This squad, was understandably amongst other members of the Regulating Branch seen as an elite group of people who seemed to think themselves above the grass routes of the branch, with their wide boy suits, and long hair. Not with standing this many a WO MAA, MAA and Regulating Staff Officer welcomed their expertise, knowledge to carryout specialist investigations which required facilities and equipment that they processed. They were able to develop a data base of information and had a close liaison with the local Constabularies specialist teams.
A sound relationship was forthcoming with some members
of the Squads being attached to the Portsmouth City Police Drug Squad
and named 'South East Area Drugs Squad' Similar squads were set up
in Devonport and Scotland
In the foreign stations the Provost Marshals of Singapore and Hong Kong normally nominated a member of their staff to act as Anti Vice patrols, they also worked closely with the Civilian Police in those cities ensuring that Jolly Jack behaved himself in the bars and houses of ill repute, or houses of pleasure
Peter David with his specialist dog Monty
RN SIS photographed in HMS Nelson with the figure head of the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert in the back ground
Times move on and the present organisation has grown with the introduction of a Special Investigation Branch, who receive specialist training initially with the Royal Military Police and RAF Police SIB training schools and now at the Defence College of Policing The Office in Portsmouth being self contained in the Barham Building in HMS Nelson. A recent entry in a staff magazine a young Leading Wren Regulator reported she had conducted investigations in a shore base, a ship and even a submarine.
Investigations in Crete and Scotland, fraud, sexual assaults, theft of firearms and a neglect of duty/allowing/causing the hazarding of a HM Ship. So it can be seen the RN SIB are highly skilled and provide a worthwhile service to the Royal Navy
So What is new with the Regulating Branch?
Well the most visible change for the Branch is a complete change of emphasis. In November 2005 the Regulating School in HMS Excellent closed and move lock stock and barrel to the previous naval Establishment that was known as HMS Dryad, which had responsibilities for training all things to do with Radar and Operations Room workings, the training of the Warfare specialisation was moved to HMS Collingwood in Fareham, which previously was the training base for Weapons and Electrical training, so it would seem the MOD(N) have joined much of its training facilities under one large establishment.
Emptied of Warfare personnel Southwick Park was to
be the home of training all three service police forces, the
Royal Military Police moving from their well established home in
Chichester, the RAF Police moved from RAF Newton in Nottinghamshire
and RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. Under the Command of a Col. Royal
Military Police. Hampshire Constabulary have also a training school
within the College grounds
In early 2006 the new Armed Forces Act declared that the term Regulating Branch would be known as Service Police a title that they last held in 1860! And the Branch Title would be changed to Royal Naval Police, and would have a command structure that would be headed by a Commander with a title of Provost Marshal (Navy), responsible to the First Sea Lord
is pleasing that the Rank and Rating titles within the branch will
remain the same, there will be a clear identification that they are
Naval Police by a rank badge worn on the epaulettes of a shirt. The
Crown, Crown and Laurels will still be retained.
The education of RN Personnel in misuse of substances is still a high priority with the lecture team named ALCOHOL AND SUBSTANCE MISUSE EDUCATION with regular visits to all parts of the UK.
What will the next turn of the wheel throw