Previous Chief Inspectors

Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Constabulary, including Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, are appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Home Secretary, under section 54 of the Police Act 1996. As independent holders of public office under the Crown, appointed under Royal Warrant, they are neither civil servants nor police officers.

The uniforms associated with the role of Inspectors of Constabulary are not police uniforms (although they look similar). For instance, the insignia and cap badge contain the letters ‘HMIC’; the Chief Inspector’s insignia also includes a star.

From time to time – particularly for memorial and remembrance services – one or more of the Inspectors of Constabulary attends an event in the HMIC uniform. Wherever practicable, this duty is discharged by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary, as the senior Inspector of Constabulary.

The current chief inspector is Thomas Winsor who was appointed in October 2012.


Sir Denis O'Connor, CBE

Sir Denis O’Connor, CBE, QPM
(January 2008 – September 2012)

Sir Denis began his career with the Metropolitan Police, eventually becoming Assistant Chief Constable in Surrey in 1991. He was later appointed the role of Deputy Chief of Kent, and then in 1997 took on the position of Assistant Commissioner in London, where he led the Metropolitian Police Service development strategy following the Stephen Lawrence Enquiry.

In 1996, Sir Denis was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal and later received a CBE in 2002 for his service to policing. He received a knighthood in 2010 in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. He was Chief Constable of Surrey between 2000 and 2004, and prior to becoming Vice President of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in 2003, he chaired the ACPO Performance Management Business Area and led the piloting of the National Reassurance Policing Programme; the pre-cursor to Neighbourhood Policing.


Sir Ronnie Flanagan, GBE, MA

Sir Ronnie Flanagan, GBE, QPM
(February 2005 – December 2008)

Sir Ronnie joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary in 1970. Following his promotion to Chief Superintendent in 1990, he was appointed to the Police Staff College at Bramshill as director of the Intermediate Command Course and subsequently of the Senior Command Course. In 1992 he was appointed as Assistant Chief Constable, operations department; in April 1993 he was appointed as Operational Commander for the Belfast region; and in August 1994 he was appointed as Head of Special Branch. In March 1995 he was appointed as Acting Deputy Chief Constable and formally appointed Deputy Chief Constable in February 1996.

Sir Ronnie was awarded the OBE in Her Majesty’s 1996 New Year Honours List, and on 4 November of the same year he took up office as Chief Constable. On 31 March 2002, Sir Ronnie retired from the Police Service of Northern Ireland and on 1 April 2002 was appointed as an inspector of constabulary for London and the Eastern region. Sir Ronnie was appointed as Chief Inspector of Constabulary on 1 February 2005.

Sir Keith Povey, QPM, LLD (Hon), BA (Law), CCMI

Sir Keith Povey, QPM, LLD (Hon), BA (Law), CCMI
(January 2002 – January 2005)

Sir Keith Povey joined Sheffield Police in 1962, rising to the rank of Chief Superintendent of South Yorkshire Police. While an Inspector, he was awarded a full-time scholarship at Sheffield University, gaining a first-class honours degree in law in 1980. In 1984, he was promoted to Chief Superintendent and appointed as staff officer to Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary at the Home Office. He was appointed as Assistant Chief Constable of Humberside Police in February 1986, moving to Northamptonshire as Deputy Chief Constable in May 1990. He was appointed as Chief Constable of Leicestershire Constabulary in May 1993 and as Chief Inspector of Constabulary on 1 January 2002.


Sir David O’Dowd, CBE, OStJ, QPM, DL, Dip Soc, BA, MSc, DSc (Hon), CCMI

Sir David O’Dowd, CBE, OStJ, QPM
DL, Dip Soc, BA, MSc, DSc (Hon), CCMI
(September 1996 – December 2001)

Sir David O’Dowd served in Leicester City Police from 1961 to 1977, including a period as Detective Chief Inspector. He transferred to West Midlands Police in 1977 on promotion to Superintendent then served as Assistant Chief Constable in Northamptonshire Police from 1982 to 1984, before serving two years in the Metropolitan Police as Deputy Assistant Commissioner. In 1986, he was appointed as Chief Constable of Northamptonshire, where he remained until his appointment as an inspector of constabulary with responsibility for London and the Eastern region in 1993. Immediately prior to joining HMIC, Sir David held the post of Director of the Police National Assessment Centre.


Sir Trefor Morris, CBE, QPM (June 1993 – September 1996)

Sir Trefor Morris, CBE, QPM
(June 1993 – September 1996)

In 1955 Sir Trefor Morris joined Manchester City Police, which merged into Manchester and Salford Police in 1968 and then emerged as Greater Manchester Police in 1974. He gained a wide operational experience in the uniform and traffic divisions, but mostly in the criminal investigation department (specialising in fraud investigation), and rose to Assistant Chief Constable. In December 1979 he moved to Hertfordshire as Deputy Chief Constable and then became Chief Constable in 1984. In January 1990 he was appointed as an inspector of constabulary for the Eastern region and the Metropolitan Police. In June 1993 he was appointed as Chief Inspector.


Sir John Woodcock, CBE, CStJ, QPM (April 1990 – May 1993)

Sir John Woodcock, CBE, CStJ, QPM
(April 1990 – May 1993)

Sir John Woodcock’s policing career started as a Cadet in the Lancashire Constabulary in 1947. He served in the Army Special Investigation Branch from 1950 to 1952 before rejoining Lancashire Constabulary as a Constable. Between 1965 and 1968, he served as a Superintendent and then Chief Superintendent in Bedfordshire and Luton Constabulary, before being promoted to Assistant Chief Constable, and later Deputy Chief Constable, in Gwent. He then transferred to the larger Devon and Cornwall Constabulary in 1974 as Deputy Chief Constable, before being appointed as Chief Constable in North Yorkshire in 1978. In 1979 he was appointed as Chief Constable in South Wales and he joined the Inspectorate in 1983, as the inspector for Wales and the Midlands.


Sir Richard (Stanley) Barratt, CBE, QPM (April 1987 – March 1990)

Sir Richard (Stanley) Barratt, CBE, QPM
(April 1987 – March 1990)

Sir Richard served in Birmingham City Police from 1949 to 1965, during which time he also spent periods as Director of the Home Office Crime Prevention Centre at Stafford and was seconded to the Police Research and Development Branch. He joined Cheshire Constabulary as a Superintendent in 1965 and was promoted two years later to Assistant Chief Constable of Manchester City Police, which merged one year later to become the Manchester and Salford Police, in which he served as Assistant Chief Constable and then Deputy Chief Constable. He was appointed as Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police in 1975 before taking up appointment as an inspector of constabulary in 1978.


Sir Lawrence Byford, CBE, QPM, DL, LLB (January 1983 – March 1987)

Sir Lawrence Byford, CBE, QPM, DL, LLB
(January 1983 – March 1987)

Sir Lawrence joined West Riding Police in 1947. He served on the Wakefield Detective Training School staff between 1959 and 1962 and at the Police Staff College at Bramshill from 1964 to 1966. He joined Lincolnshire Constabulary as Assistant Chief Constable in 1968, becoming Deputy Chief Constable in 1970 and Chief Constable in 1973. He was appointed as an inspector of constabulary in 1977.


Sir James Crane, CBE (September 1979 – December 1982)

Sir James Crane, CBE
(September 1979 – December 1982)

Sir James Crane joined the Metropolitan Police in 1946 and rose through the ranks to become Deputy Assistant Commissioner and an acknowledged expert in fraud investigation. He joined the Inspectorate on 1 July 1976 with responsibility for Wales and South West England.


Sir Colin Woods, KCVO, CBE (August 1977 – August 1979)

Sir Colin Woods, KCVO, CBE
(August 1977 – August 1979)

Sir Colin Woods joined the Metropolitan Police in 1940 and was seconded six years later, by which time he was a Chief Superintendent, to the Police College at Bramshill. He returned to the Metropolitan Police to fill the post of Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the newly formed management services department before returning to Bramshill as Commandant. He was appointed Assistant Commissioner in 1969 and Deputy Commissioner in 1975. He took over as Chief Inspector of Constabulary in August 1977.


Sir James Haughton, CBE, QPM (January 1976 – July 1977)

Sir James Haughton, CBE, QPM
(January 1976 – July 1977)

Sir James Haughton joined Birmingham City Police in 1935, entering the criminal investigation department two years later and rising to become Detective Chief Superintendent and head of the department. He served as a member of the directing staff at the Police College from 1963 to 1965 and was Director of the Home Office Police Research and Development Branch, during which time he contributed greatly to the development of numerous technical aids to policing. He was also influential in the introduction of regional crime squads, policing of motorways and CCTV for traffic control. He was appointed as Chief Constable of Liverpool City Police on 1 August 1965, subsequently leading the amalgamated Liverpool and Bootle Constabulary (1967) and then the (again) restructured Merseyside Police from 1974. He was appointed Chief Inspector on 1 January 1976.


Sir John Hill, CBE, DFC, QPM (December 1972 – December 1975)

Sir John Hill, CBE, DFC, QPM
(December 1972 – December 1975)

Sir John Hill started his career in the Metropolitan Police in 1933, serving there until joining the Royal Air Force in 1942. As a flying officer attached to Bomber Command, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for operations carried out over Europe. After the war he rejoined the Metropolitan Police, as an Inspector and then a Superintendent, before moving to New Scotland Yard in 1957, attaining the rank of Commander (now re-designated Deputy Assistant Commissioner). In 1965 he joined HMIC as an inspector before returning to the Metropolitan Police in 1966 as Assistant Commissioner. By the time he left again to become Chief Inspector of Constabulary he was the Deputy Commissioner.


Sir John McKay, CBE, QPM (October 1970 – November 1972)

Sir John McKay, CBE, QPM
(October 1970 – November 1972)

On 1 October 1970, Sir Eric retired and went to Australia to carry out a review of the State of Victoria Police. He was replaced as Chief Inspector by Sir John McKay, who served with the Metropolitan Police from 1935 to 1953 before being appointed as Assistant Chief Constable in Birmingham and, subsequently, in 1958, as Chief Constable in Manchester. He became an inspector of constabulary in 1966.


Colonel Sir Eric St Johnston, CBE, QPM, MA (February 1967 – September 1970)

Colonel Sir Eric St Johnston, CBE, QPM, MA
(February 1967 – September 1970)

Sir Edward’s tenure as Chief Inspector ended suddenly with his death on 16 September 1966, when he was just 57 years of age. He was succeeded on 1 February 1967 by Colonel Sir Eric St Johnston. Sir Eric had served on the civil staff of the Metropolitan Police before entering the Metropolitan Police College in 1935. At the early age of 29 he was appointed as Chief Constable of Oxfordshire. After distinguished war service, in 1944 he was appointed as Chief Constable of Durham County, and in 1950 he became Chief Constable of Lancashire.
He remained in that post until his appointment as Chief Inspector of Constabulary in February 1967.

Sir Edward Dodd, CBE (September 1963 – September 1966)

Sir Edward Dodd, CBE
(September 1963 – September 1966)

Sir Edward joined the Metropolitan Police in 1931 after a period in the merchant navy. He attended the first course

at the Metropolitan Police College in 1934 and became Assistant Chief Constable in Birmingham in 1941. He succeeded Sir William as Chief Constable in Birmingham and remained in that post until he was appointed as Chief Inspector of Constabulary in 1963.

Sir William Johnson, CMG, CBE

Sir William Johnson, CMG, CBE
(December 1962 – September 1963)

The first Chief Inspector was Sir William Johnson. He joined Portsmouth City Police in 1920, where he rose to the rank of Superintendent in charge of the criminal investigation department in just ten years. In 1932 he was appointed as Chief Constable of Plymouth, moving to Birmingham as Assistant Chief Constable in 1936, where he was appointed as Chief Constable five years later. He joined the Inspectorate in 1945 and so, by the time he took up the role of Chief Inspector, he had already served 17 years in HMIC.