Obituary: Robert Lawrence

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The Independent Online
During his seven years as Chief Constable of South Wales Robert Lawrence guided the force through difficult times.

Heading an organisation 3,000-strong calls for a high degree of managerial competence - particularly where a uniformed public service is concerned. Moreover, in the early Nineties the force faced a financial crisis which threatened both morale and its service to the public. Lengthy discussions with Whitehall ensued, but eventually the Home Office was persuaded to release badly needed resources. Lawrence's determination and a commendable disposition to speak his mind proved decisive, and the force emerged intact, able to get on with the job without having constantly to worry about the balance-sheet.

Born at Ystradgynlais in the upper Swansea valley, Lawrence was educated at the local grammar school and joined Mid-Wales Police (later to become Dyfed-Powys Police) in 1961, while still in his teens. Promotion from constable through the ranks followed steadily. By 1978 he was a superintendent in the West Mercia force and in 1983 he transferred to Staffordshire as Assistant Chief Constable, becoming Deputy Chief Constable in 1985. He returned to take command of South Wales in 1989.

Under his leadership the force was often at the leading edge of innovation. It played a significant role in devel- oping DNA testing, and earlier this month 100 officers started trials on the beat to evaluate various forms of body armour.

Robert Lawrence was awarded the Queen's Police Medal in 1991 and held the rank of Brother in the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John. A devoted family man and a keen angler and golfer, he won an Open University arts degree in 1988.

William Robert Lawrence, police officer: born Ystradgynlais, Powys 21 September 1942: QPM 1991; Chief Constable, South Wales Constabulary 1989- 96; married 1965 (one son, one daughter); died Swansea 21 May 1996.