Barry Webb

Former Metropolitan Police Service and

Commissioner of Police in the British Virgin Islands

Whilst a Chief Inspector I played a major role in the police response to the Clapham Rail Crash where 35 passengers died,  following on from this I bacame an advisor to senior officers responding to major disasters. As a Detective Superintendent/Detective Chief Superintendent I served in the National Criminal Intelligence Service and latterly created and managed the Metropolitan Police Murder Review Group (MRG). As Head of the MRG I oversaw the review of current unsolved murders (including Jill Dando and Stephen Lawrence) and undertook a number of high profile cold case investigations. After 30 years I retired from the MPS and became the Commissioner of Police in the British Virgin Islands where I served for 4 years.


  1.  Early Years and Policing in the 1970s
    •  Personal introduction and general remarks about my experience and time frames. An outline of the content of each of the presentations I am going to make during the cruise. My journey as a Police Constable through to Sergeant and the events that changed me rapidly from a naive and out of depth young officer to a more balanced individual with rapid understanding of life experience.

  2.  My Years at Brixton Police Station and Battersea Police Station (1982 – 1989)

    •  I served at Brixton Police Station as both a uniformed Inspector and as a Detective Inspector. Brixton at that time was the most challenging policing environment in the Metropolitan Police area and arguably the country. In 1981 it suffered from significant riots (worldwide media coverage) primarily between the black community and police – this led to the “Scarman” Public Inquiry where significant criticisms of the police were levelled (much of it legitimate). Between 1982 - 1985 I was part of a recovery plan to improve relationships with the community. I will outline the challenges faced highlighting both good and bad. Again my presentation will be a mix of funny personal experiences and the more serious face of policing in a hostile environment. I will introduce a number of case studies that will be interesting and thought provoking. Between late 1985 to 1989 I was posted to Battersea Police Station which, although not as racially divided, presented a number of challenges. In particular I will outline the significant role I played in the aftermath of the Clapham Rail Crash (December 1988) where 35 persons were killed. This will be a mixture of poignant stories, human endeavors and light hearted moments. I am acutely aware of the sad nature of this incident but my account will focus upon positive aspects and the ability of ordinary people to do extraordinary things.

  3.  Murder Investigations and other Major Crime Cases

    •  This presentation will focus upon the dynamics of murder investigation – how the reality is so different from the impression given by TV detective stories. I will provide a number of case studies based upon investigations I was personally involved in. Again there will be some humour but my focus will be on the reality. The cases I will use are very interesting and each will have a number of important learning points that I am sure the audience will be able to relate to. I will also deal with a high profile child abuse case (this is currently a very topical subject) where I investigated 4 male adults for systematic abuse of 9 children. I will highlight how the criminal justice system was biased against children and in favour of the defendants. I will highlight the courage of the 5 children that gave evidence at the Old Bailey and mention some of the funny interactions I had with them. I will touch upon the introduction of The Police & Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1985 that fundamentally changed crime investigations and highlight the key components of a well-managed major crime investigation.

  4.  Undercover Policing and Kidnap / Extortion

    •  I will recount my time as Head of SO10 – Crime Operations Group at Scotland Yard – It will highlight how we professionalized undercover policing and constantly pushed at the boundaries of legitimate operations whilst maintaining integrity and remaining within ethically acceptable boundaries. I will outline how we selected, trained and deployed Undercover Officers. I will outline a number of ground breaking cases (again this will be mixed with amusing one-off incidents). I will also discuss my role in coordinating the response to kidnap and extortion cases and the unique challenges faced in these cases, not least of all the fact that unlike a murder – in the case of kidnap the victim is alive and thus decisions made can literally be “life or death” decisions, again I will use actual cases to highlight some important aspects.

  5. Reviewing on-going Murder Investigations and Undertaking Cold Case Reviews

    •  This will reflect upon my time as Head of the Metropolitan Police Murder Review Group – where I had responsibility for over 100 Detectives who reviewed unsolved murders in real time and undertook reinvestigation of cold cases. During this period I also personally undertook a number of reviews of very high profile cases including the murder of Stephen Lawrence, Jill Dando, Suzy Lamplugh and the 29 persons who died the the IRA bombing in Omagh. I will outline some of the key points from these cases.  I will provide interesting case studies and the important role that DNA now plays in many major crime investigations.

  6.  My Final Years

    •  I will reflect upon my career in the Metropolitan Police and then contrast this with my 4 years in the Caribbean – I will highlight the different challenges  (both professionally and culturally) I faced and provide some amusing but sensitive personal experiences. I will conclude by outlining how I was actually held hostage in my office by a mentally challenged individual and was shot 3 times over the period of 45 minutes (21st October 2004) – my injuries at time were life threatening and I was airlifted to Miami where I recuperated over an 8 month period. I will highlight how my police training allowed me to survive this incident including my psychological recovery and the lessons I learnt from this “near death” experience.

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