Richard Dawnay LEMON

Chief Constable 1942 -1962

Richard Dawnay Lemon, the son of Lieutenant Colonel F J Lemon, DSO and his wife Laura, was born in York on May 29th 1912 when his father was Chief Constable of West Riding. Young Dawnay was educated at Uppingham, where he distinguished himself as an all-rounder. He went to Sandhurst and in 1932 was commissioned into the West Yorkshire Regiment, in which both his father and grandfather had served, but retired after two years to join the Metropolitan Police.

Lemon then went to the Hendon police college, in north London, which was undergoing one of its periodic attempts to create an officer class, and on leaving found that there was more to police work than he had thought when he raised his hand to stop a car. The elderly woman driver drove straight on, and he realised that he had not been told what to do in such a situation.

Sir Dawnay Lemon, who has died aged 92, served as chief constable of the East Riding, Hampshire and Kent police forces; he also made a mark as one of the last men to bowl under-arm seriously.

Although under-arm bowling was the rule when cricket began in the mid-18th century, it largely died out after the First World War, and is now employed in serious games only as a cynical gesture against slow play. Lemon was a fine exponent of the under-arm lob, which sailed high in the air and came down to take a devilish turn. The other under-arm method was to bowl low.

Philip Snow, who captained Leicestershire Second XI and later became a Fijian first-class player, remembers both the future Lord Hazlerigg and Lemon in action under-arm during the Leicestershire cricket week of 1937. Hazlerigg, playing for MCC, aimed so low that Snow found it hard to lift the ball while Lemon, representing Free Foresters, liked to bowl high in a leisurely way, which made the ball seem to hang in the air, to cause consternation among batsmen.

After two years Lemon joined Leicestershire Constabulary as an inspector. He proved himself an efficient officer while distinguishing himself as a batsman for a variety of teams, including MCC and the Leicestershire Seconds for whom he also took a typical six for 29 in 10 overs.

At 27 he became the youngest chief constable in the country when he was appointed to the East Riding of Yorkshire force; his father was then chief constable of Nottinghamshire. As chief constable of the East Riding, Dawnay Lemon combined already-honed organisational skills with a natural talent for leadership. He tactfully made a point of learning the names of all his men, as well as those of their wives. After three years in Yorkshire, in 1942 he was selected for the delicate task of amalgamating the Hampshire and Isle of Wight forces. With the growth of security consciousness in wartime he increased the size of the CID department, and took over the organisation of the course for the force’s reservists.

Twenty years later Lemon was to develop new policing techniques when he became chief constable of Kent. One was needed to cope with the clashes between gangs of “mods” and “rockers”. A more serious problem was that of illegal immigrants, and Lemon established contacts with the French and Belgian police.

In 1968 a superintendent and a French-speaking inspector held their first meeting with their opposite numbers aboard a Channel ferry, where it turned out that the French were well aware of immigrants. When asked why they had said nothing, the French officers replied: “You never asked.” The link between the two countries was to pay off in 1987 during the rescue of passengers from the ferry Herald of Free Enterprise.

Lemon was appointed CBE in 1958 and QPM in 1964. He was knighted in 1970. His retirement in 1974 left him more time to play golf at Royal St George’s at Sandwich, to take a keen interest in cricket and to serve as a churchwarden.

Dawnay Lemon, who died on August 5, married, in 1939, Sylvia Marie Kentish; they had a son and two daughters, one of whom predeceased him.