Tributes paid after death of ex-chief constable who 'turned West Mercia Police around'

By Toby Neal | News | Published:

Former top West Mercia Police officer Bob Cozens has died aged 90.

Former West Mercia chief constable Bob Cozens, who has died aged 90

Mr Cozens was chief constable from 1981 to 1985 and one of the major Shropshire crimes on his watch was the murder of Shrewsbury's Hilda Murrell, amid various conspiracy theories alleging she had been killed by agents of the state.

Robert Cozens, who was generally known as Bob, was awarded the Queen's Police Medal in 1981 and the CBE in the 1989 New Year's Honours.

Paying tribute, retired Telford police superintendent David Stephenson said: "He was a great mentor of mine and was marvellous for the West Mercia force.

"He turned the force around and made it a place for women, as well as men. He was very forward thinking.

"We changed direction for the better with his arrival. He brought out the best in everybody. "

And West Mercia Police Chief Constable Anthony Bangham said: "West Mercia Police takes pride in being a family force and has respect for the important contribution that Bob Cozens played in the formative years of West Mercia Police.

"His legacy as Chief Constable will remain in our history for future generations.

"Our thoughts are with Bob’s family and friends at this difficult time."


Mr Cozens had begun his career in Surrey and came to West Mercia in January 1981 from Lincolnshire, succeeding Alex Rennie.

He had been Lincolnshire's Deputy Chief Constable since 1978.

His previous career had included joining the directing staff at police college, and serving with South Yorkshire Police as Assistant Chief Constable, based in Sheffield.

He retired from West Mercia Police on March 31,1985, and returned to live in Surrey, taking up a post as Director of Police Research Services at the Home Office, advising on the operational requirements of the police service in areas such as communications, IT and scientific research.


During his time at West Mercia the 1984 kidnap and murder of 78-year-old Miss Murrell was one of the highest profile, and most controversial, crimes of the late 20th century, with many conspiracy theories, although the police view was that it was "a burglary gone wrong."

Mr Cozens was to cross swords with the campaigning Labour MP Tam Dalyell, saying he was hindering police inquiries into the death as his speculations were diverting officers who were investigating the case.

The case went unsolved for 21 years until a cold case review uncovered DNA and fingerprint evidence linking a Shrewsbury man, who had been 16 at the time, with the killing. In 2005 he was convicted of murder after a four-week trial and was jailed for life. In 2013 it was reported that 2018 was his likely release date.

The funeral of Mr Cozens took place on Thursday, February 22, at Guildford Crematorium.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.


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