Film screening: How Do You Fix A Town Like Plymouth?

Chief Constable Joseph Sowerby, 1892–1917. Photographs with permission Graham Naylor, Plymouth City Library

  • Plymouth Arts Cinema, Plymouth College of Art, Tavistock Place, Plymouth PL4 8AT

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Join producer/director Rob Giles and presenter Professor Kim Stevenson from the University's Institute of Social Policy and Enterprise Research for a docudrama presentation and discussion about Plymouth Chief Constable Joseph Sowerby’s (1892-1917) role in clearing up the city as the youngest chief constable ever appointed. 

This broadcast quality biographical production will depict the life and times of one of Plymouth’s uncelebrated heroes. The film was selected and awarded a Certificate of Appreciation at the DadaSahed Phalke International Film Festival in Mumbai February 2019 Best International Documentary Category taking Plymouth’s crime history to an Indian audience. 

This one hour film featuring cameo roles from staff and students in the School of Law Criminology and Government will be accompanied by a short presentation on Crime in the Three Towns and post film discussion.

Born in Liverpool to the son of a landlord, Sowerby was brought up in Leeds where he rapidly rose through the ranks of the Leeds City Police receiving commendations for heroic rescues and arrests. Selected to head the Plymouth police force in 1892, Sowerby (29) was one of the youngest ever chief constables appointed nationally. During his tenure at Plymouth, he earned the respect of the local populace by effectively tackling drunkenness, crime and bad behaviour head on. Sowerby’s long career with Plymouth was synonymous with several significant and high-profile events including the arrest of Mrs Pankhurst, temperance marches and campaigns.

Comments from the first public screening:

“A well thought out piece of research, I hope to see more presentations like this in the future”

“Extremely informative and enjoyable”

“A very informative and interesting film which was well presented and enjoyable to watch particularly with dramatisation being included”

“Absolutely brilliant film, thoroughly enjoyed it and truly compelling”

“Excellent film, deserves to be widely shown, very interesting local subject matter”

Tickets cost £5 / £4 concessions / £3 students of the University of Plymouth and Plymouth College of Art. Please book via the Plymouth Arts Centre website or email for any queries.

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Today's events

Biography: Rob Giles

Rob joined the University of Plymouth in 2005 having previously worked as a 3D crime scene reconstruction specialist on over 30 cases 2003-05. Rob has worked in partnership with Professor Kim Stevenson as director to produce an information film reflecting on Plymouth's sustainability, past and present for the ESRC Festival of Science 2015 and subsequently appeared on the ESRC website as an example of good practice and featured on the town centre big screen by Plymouth City Council.

Rob is a University of Plymouth BSc (Hons) Media Lab Arts graduate.

Biography: Professor Kim Stevenson

Kim joined the University of Plymouth in 2004 and formerly taught at Nottingham Law School, Nottingham Trent University, for 15 years where she lectured Constitutional and Administrative Law and Sexuality and the Law; she has also taught courses as part of business studies, surveying, social sciences and criminology degrees. She was also a visiting professor at the William Mitchell College of Law, St Paul, Minnesota, USA and the Open University Hong Kong. 

Kim has published Sowerby articles for the Police History Society, presented conference papers and Sowerby was the inspiration for her lead-edited book Leading the Police: A History of Chief Constables 1835-2017.

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