Policing the Holy Land 1920-1948

This booklet has been published by the British Palestine Police Association (BPPA) for the centenary of the Palestine Police which carried the main burden of law and order during the British Mandate.  The Force was at first mainly locally recruited with British senior officers, but the difficulty of policing by Arabs or Jews, given the political emotions involved, led to an ever higher proportion of British policemen in the Force particularly to deal with public order and terrorism from both sides.  At first the British army help available to the civil power was small, but it also grew over the years. 

The first half of the booklet is the history of the Force written by Lord (John) Cope the Patron of BPPA.  John Cope was in Parliament from 1974 to 2020 and was on the front bench of the Conservative Party for 25 years in both the Commons and the Lords, including time as Minister of State for Northern Ireland responsible for policing and prisons there.  The second half is reminiscences by members of the Force edited by Ralph Cairns of BPPA whose uncle, an Inspector of the same name, was murdered. 

John Cope sums up: “The intention of the Mandate was to bring the country forward to independence with the existing largely Arab inhabitants and special arrangements for Jews.  Given the conflicting promises we had made and the conflicting aspirations of the Arabs and the Jews for the territory, this was always a huge challenge and ultimately proved impossible. . . British and international policy may have failed but the fault did not lie with the Police. . . . In 1948 we left behind the graves of 340 British and 276 Arab and Jewish colleagues.”     

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