DIRECTORATE OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS
HISTORY; HISTORY OVERVIEW
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Based on a document by Ian Aitken, then Head of Field Service Operations, prepared in 1990 as part of the name change to DTELS, with added text by Steven R. Cole covering the period 1990-1994
The history of the Directorate can be traced back to 1939, when as the Communications Branch, it started out life as a small Headquarters based group providing advise on radio communications applications to the Home Department.
It quickly became clear that technology, very much in its infancy then, had a lot to offer, but equipment and people who knew anything about it were thin on the ground.
Communications Branch therefore began discussing applications with potential manufacturers in an attempt to stimulate development and improve equipment supply, forging links with industry; many of which remained in place until its closure in 1994.
Regional Wireless Stations were built around 1940. Their locations were chosen carefully as they were initially transmitting stations which broadcast on HF, messages at regular intervals to police cars across a number of countries. At this stage, police forces did not have their own radio channels or communications control rooms as we know them today. To get a message to a car, forces telephoned it in to their nearest depot, who then broadcast it using morse code at the appropriate time. This was only ONE WAY TRAFFIC but wireless stations operated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on three shifts to provide the service.
VHF two way voice systems were being developed in the early 1940s but it was not until 1946 that the first county wide multistation scheme was introduced. Schemes that were then shared with the fire service. In 1947 broadcasting on HF ceased. Regional Wireless Stations were renamed Regional Wireless Depots and Communications Branch with increased technical staff was reformed to concentrate on the installation and maintenance of the new system.