Police whistle

The Metropolitan Police whistle made by J. Hudson and Co in Birmingham was introduced to the police service circa 1884 and replaced the wooden, football-style rattle as a means of communication between constables on adjoining beats or between constables and their supervising officers. There were a variety of whistle codes to signify various messages such as “where are you?” (a single three or four second ‘peep’) and “I am here” (two ‘peeps’). This was a necessary means of communicating right up until the second half of the last century, after two-way personal radios made their first appearance in the 1960s.

The whistle in this photograph, dated 1918, was issued to my grandfather, Constable 215A Samuel Garrett, when he joined the Liverpool City Police on 4 August 1919. He carried it when ‘on duty’ until his retirement on 31 March 1968, a total of 48 years and 8 months service, the longest period of service by any officer in the history of the old Liverpool force.

I followed in Sam Garrett’s footsteps and joined Merseyside Police in January 1978. I served within the boundaries of the City of Liverpool for a little over 24 years before retiring on medical grounds in June 2002 ...and I still have the whistle I was issued with too!

Peter Garrett
Retired Policeman