Chief Constable 1977 – 1988

He came to Hampshire from Essex Police Force. He was responsible for introducing the Air Support unit into the force. He retired in 1988 and died in 1989.

John Duke was appointed as Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary on 1st September 1977, after 30 years service with other forces.

He began his working life far away from the world of the police in the mines of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He readily admitted that among the reasons he joined the police were the better working conditions and better money. He never lost sight of his early days in the force though and always found time for the individual as well as the service as a whole.

In 1947 he left his home town and moved to London where he joined the City of London Police as a young man of 21.

After 22 years with the City Police he transferred to the Essex Constabulary as Assistant Chief Constable and was promoted to Deputy Chief Constable of that force in 1972.

During his 11 years with Hampshire Constabulary there were many changes, from the complete restructuring of the force, the increased use of civilians to work alongside their police colleagues and advances in police technology.

In his last year as Chief Constable, Hampshire Constabulary became the first force to purchase the Optica Scout fixed wing plane and the first force to develop and install a private, efficient and more sophisticated radio and control room scheme. Prior to his retirement he saw the completion of the ultra modern training complex at Netley.

He retired from Hampshire Constabulary on 31st August 1988.

He was very active on the local community and served on several  youth and charitable organisations including the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Outward Bound Association.

His final triumph for Hampshire Constabulary was the launch and final conclusion of an appeal to the 1.75 million people looked after by the Hampshire Police. The money raised for the Police and Rehabilitation Trust amounted to over £50,000 which went towards the provision of facilities at the new National Police Convalescent Home at Goring on Thames. In a statement which typified his approach to welfare, he said, “The support of the people of our two counties has been outstanding – many of our officers are injured on duty, now they can be cared for professionally and properly and with the support of the people they serve.”

He underwent surgery at Chalybeate Hospital, Southampton, the week before Christmas and remained in the Royal Hampshire County Hospital at Winchester where he died peacefully on February 26th 1989.

He was made Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Hampshire on January 20th 1989.

Mr Duke leaves his wife Glenys and four daughters and a grandson. He was 62 years old. He will be sadly missed and fondly remembered by all his colleagues at Hampshire Constabulary.

Born: October 20th 1926 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Died: February 26th 1989 at Winchester.

Was awarded CBE, QPM and DL.


In a tribute to John Duke, Assistant Chief Constable Bryan Davies said, “I want to say there is a sadness in the hearts of serving and retired officers and civilians at the death of John Duke.

He was a tireless worker for the force and for the public of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

He left, as you know, only a few months ago and left the force in good hands.

He was a man’s man, forthright and blunt at times, but he was always a compassionate man who had a good word for everyone. If there was trouble he was there to back his men.

He was responsible for the reorganisation of the force, the purchase of the Optica aircraft and it was his foresight that gave us one of the finest police training complexes at Netley. The forced is better for his ideas.

I will remember how he used to come into the office in the morning and say ‘I had an idea while i was in the bath this morning.’ Sometimes he had just too many ideas. We used to tell him, ‘You’ve got to stop having baths.’

He was a great worker for the force and was backed up well by his wife. She herself is a tireless worker for the people of Hampshire and she was of course by his side backing him up and therefore helping us, Hampshire Constabulary.

He was a great family man with four daughters. His proudest moment was when he had his first grandson. He always said he came from a long life of women.

The Hampshire Constabulary is a better force for having had John Duke as a Chief Constable.


It is a great sadness that John Duke could not enjoy a longer retirement, since he had worked so hard during his police service. In addition to his capacity for work, John Duke was a man of great professional vision. He had an uncanny ability to judge the future well, and to take sound decisions based on that judgement. Because of that vision, and his ability to be properly stubborn on occasions in search of his objectives, the Hampshire Constabulary to benefit from his innovations. He deserved to enjoy a longer retirement.

Chief Constable John Hoddinott QPM MA