Sir Harold Scott

Sir Harold Richard Scott, GCVO, KCB, KBE (1887 – 1969) was Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police from 1945 to 1953. Sir Harold Scott photo

Scott was born in Somerset, England and raised in Bruton, Somerset. He was educated at Sexey’s School and later Jesus College of the University of Cambridge. In 1911, he joined the Home Office as a civil servant, where he worked in various capacities including Secretary to the Labour Resettlement Committee (1918–1919) and Chairman of the Prisons Commission (1932–1939). With the outbreak of World War II, Scott’s work took on a more military capacity, as he joined London’s Civil Defence Administration until he was appointed as Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Aircraft Production in 1943.

In late 1944, the Home Secretary Herbert Morrison asked Scott to accept the post as Metropolitan Police Commissioner when the war was over. The appointment in 1945 caused a stir in police circles – Scott was the first Commissioner without a police or military background since Sir Richard Mayne (who had been a lawyer when appointed).

Scott’s administration background served him well in some of the more managerial aspects of the Commissionership, and he managed some considerable cost savings for the Met. He also improved the public relations outlook of the service, including granting Ealing Studios unprecedented assistance in the production of the film The Blue Lamp, which was to lead to the TV series Dixon of Dock Green, which painted a rosy view of the Metropolitan Police fostered by Jack Warner’s portrayal of genial PC George Dixon.

Scott presided over several high profile cases during his time with the Met, including the Derek Bentley trial for the murder of police officer PC Sidney Miles.

In 1951, Scott introduced a police cadet training scheme for young people aged between 16 and 18.

Scott retired in 1953, and thereafter wrote several books related to crime and policing including The Concise Encyclopedia of Crime and Criminals (1962).