Tributes paid to Chichester police commander

A Chichester woman who was the first female police commander has died.

Tributes have been paid to Shirley Becke, who lived at St Martin’s Square, after she passed away aged 94.

Mrs Becke joined the force in 1941 and became head of A4 until policewomen were integrated in 1973.

She received just four weeks of basic training at Peel House before joining the force. After the war she became a WDC.

Extraordinarily, before this post, Mrs Becke was the first woman to be trained as a gas engineer. After being promoted to Detective Sergeant Mrs Becke stayed at West End Central and met her husband, Reverend Justice Becke.

In 1957 she was promoted to Detective Inspector, shortly after becoming a Detective Chief Inspector.

After leaving the force she became the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service Regional Administrator for London.

Bridge was a passion of Mrs Becke’s, and she was a supporter of the Chichester Bridge Club. Books were another passion of hers.

Jean Hole, a good friend of Shirley’s and fellow bridge player, said: “I knew her for 25 years. She was a fantastic character, what you saw is what you got with her. She was really loyal to her friends.”