Progress happened quickly during Chief Constable Boyes’s reign and by the end of the year female officers were given parity on pay and their range of duties was expanded. By 1975 the Police Women’s department was disbanded and all officers integrated into a single force.
In February 1974 the newly established NYP experienced a baptism of fire. A major murder investigation was launched when Harrogate sub-postmaster Donald Skepper was gunned down in his home by Donald Neilson. The ‘Black Panther’ as he was known to the press was eventually hunted down and convicted in 1976, receiving five life sentences.
The worst road accident in Britain
The following year on 27 May, a bus carrying 45 women on a trip from Teesside to the Yorkshire Dales went out of control down a steep hill, crashing through the parapet of Dibbles Bridge in Wharfedale. The driver and 32 of his passengers were killed with the remaining 13 travellers seriously injured, resulting in the worst road accident in Britain at the time.
In 1977 the new force tragically lost its first officer killed in the line of duty. PC Norman Garnham was actually off-duty on 2 March when he stopped a local youth following a domestic disturbance. Norman was stabbed and later died from his injuries. The youth was arrested a short time later.
In September staff moved into the new police headquarters, Newby Wiske Hall. The official opening was conducted on 21 October by the Lord Lieutenant, the Marquis of Normanby.
Chief Constable John Woodcock
In late 1977, Chief Constable Boyes handed over to John Woodcock.
A 60mph national speed limit on single carriageway roads was introduced during his 18 months in charge.
Shortly afterwards Chief Constable Woodcock left the force, moving on to the same role with South Wales Police.
Chief Constable Kenneth Henshaw
Kenneth Henshaw took up the reins in 1979 and oversaw a period of innovation for the force. The Force Underwater Search Unit was created along with the introduction of hand-held radars and unmarked police cars on the A1.
More advances in technology followed us into the 1980s when money raised from the sale of Solberge Hall, the force training school, was reinvested. The £130,000 raised paid for the development of the CCTV department.