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BTP History Week - The murder of Detective Thomas Hibbs

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History - Hibbs

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The year is 1901. The country is in mourning after the death of Queen Victoria, Theodore Roosevelt is President of the United States and the British Empire rules much of the globe.

On a warm August evening, one young DC for the railway police is on patrol along the canals in Birmingham.

Armed only with his truncheon and his trusty whistle, the officer has no idea that in just under 10 minutes, he will be brutally murdered.

And that tragically to this day, his murder will remain unsolved.

That officer was DC Thomas Hibbs, a 23-year-old officer with the London and North Western Railway Police – which later became part of British Transport Police, as we know it today.

It is believed he heard a group of men stealing coal from a depot near the Birmingham Canal and, being the dedicated officer that he was, shouted and gave chase.

Sadly for Thomas, the men initially ran away but then realised he was outnumbered. His body was found in the canal some time later, with signs that he’d been hit over the head and dumped in the water.

He left behind two daughters and a young wife and, despite a large reward being offered and three men named and arrested, no charges were ever brought.

More than a century later, it is an honour to remember Thomas and the dedication that one young constable showed when faced by three offenders. We’re proud that 116 years later, we still have a force of men and women who are prepared to do the same.

On the burial register at his local church, the vicar wrote “he was a detective…murdered in the execution of his duty”. And, as all those who have lost their lives whilst bravely conducting their duties, he will be remembered.

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