History of the Gloucestershire Constabulary
Instituted in 1839
Through time the County of Gloucestershire has been policed
under three main systems, which are:
1) The Anglo-Saxon Tythingman (Somebody appointed by the
local Manor Court)
2) The Parish Constable / Watchmen (Somebody appointed by
the Parish Vestry or Justices of the Peace)
3) The whole time, paid Police Service
Then in 1835 The Municipal Corporations Act was created which
made provisions for efficient Police Forces within Cities and Boroughs.
As a result of this act we know that Tewkesbury & Cheltenham Borough
and Gloucester City had all created thier own small Police Forces.
In 1839 the Peel's County Police Act was passed, this allowed Justices
in Quarter Sessions to appoint paid Police Forces for the protection
of their County, if they saw fit, (It was not made compulsory
to set up a County Force until 1856).
On Monday 4th November 1839, a meeting was held by the General Quarter
Sessions for Gloucestershire, at The Shire Hall, during which a discussion
took place about the formation of a Gloucestershire Count
Constabulary and the appointment of a Chief Constable. The meeting was
adjourned to seek advise from The Secretary of State and The Irish Police.
On Monday 18th November 1839 a second meeting was held
and it was approved to establish a County Constabulary,
and appoint County Constables.
The following month Anthony Thomas Lefroy, of the Irish Police, was
appointed the first Chief Constable for the County.
The Gloucestershire Constabulary was initially not to exceed 250 men,
as the City & two Boroughs still had their own Police Forces until 1859.
Some of the first requirements published in 1839 for Constables were as follows:
1) To be under 40 years of age
2) To stand 5 feet 7 inches, without shoes
3) To read and write
4) To be free from any bodily complaint; of strong constitution
and generally intelligent
5) There was also a list of occupations that could not apply due to a
conflict of interest, ie: gamekeeper, bailiff etc.
A Constables rate of pay was not less than 15/-d. or more than £1.1.0d.
a week (In todays money, between £33 - £46 a week)
Each Constable was supplied with a uniform and truncheon, and a
small cutlass may have been supplied depending on their location.
On 22nd December 1839 the first Constable was dismissed from
the Force for being drunk, a Pc George Clarke!
A list of stations and there constables from 1840:
Gloucester - 8
Cheltenham - 47
Tewkesbury - 6
Stroud - 10
Dursley - 7
Cirencester - 9
Coleford - 7
Newent - 4
Stow on the Wold - 4
The Constabularys first quarterly budget in September 1840 was:
£3674.19. 1d (In todays money approx £162,000)
The Gloucestershire Constabulary is one of the oldest in the
Country, and is almost unique as its responsibility has hardly
been changed since its creation. Apart from the Southern
Division being amalgamated with the newly formed
Avon & Somerset Police on 1st April 1974 it has remained untouched.
The above publications on the Gloucestershire Constabulary are highly recommended to anyone
with an interest into the history of the Force.
Please click on the book for a link to where they are still available.
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