Officers jailed for looting

A pod of dolphins.

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In 1940 PC Douglas Clarke and PC Arthur Beeson entered a bomb-damaged house in Southsea.

The city had experienced five air raids – the King’s Road and Stanley Street areas were in ruins and there had been more than 300 civilian casualties.

Once inside the house, both officers helped themselves to a fur coat worth 28 guineas (£30.20) and a cape valued at eight guineas (£8.40).

Shortly afterwards, the chief constable received an anonymous letter which asked: ‘Are you aware that looting of premises is going on by people who should know better? Perhaps a visit to [PC Clarke’s] house might be of interest.’

Three months later, on this day, the two policemen appeared at Hampshire Assizes in Winchester.

As he jailed both men for 10 years, the judge said: ‘At the present time when women and children are showing heroism you, who had the opportunity of sharing in the glorious heroism of the people of Portsmouth, have descended to this mean and most wretched crime.

‘I think justice requires that such offences committed under such circumstances should receive condign punishment’ – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.